Another look at Southborough’s recycling rate

As we talked about yesterday, there’s good news and not-so-good news when it comes to Southborough’s recycling rate. The good news is that the rate of recycling in town showed a steep increase from 2007 to 2009, when it went from 23% to 32%.

DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan said part of the increase is due to the schools getting their own waste disposal contract in September 2008. Prior to that, all the school waste was going through the transfer station, and since the schools didn’t have a recycling program at the time, all of it was getting hauled away as trash.

The schools now take care of their own trash and recycling, so it doesn’t go through the Transfer Station, and it doesn’t count toward the town’s overall recycling rate. In a comment on yesterday’s post, Marnie Hoolahan shared some encouraging news about new efforts by the schools to recycle.

The not-so-good news when it comes to our recycling rate is that we have the lowest one of all the surrounding towns. Using data from 2008 — the latest available from the Mass Department of Environmental Protection — when Southborough’s rate was at 28%, Hopkinton was at 40%, Northborough was at 37%, and Westborough was at 32%. Framingham, Ashland, and Marlborough also all had higher recycling rates.

Assuming we agree that recycling is a good thing (and not all of us do), what would it take to get you to recycle more?

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Annette Flaherty
12 years ago

What would it take? That sounds like a good question for the folks that continue to throw cardboard boxes and other recyclables into the trash. Every time I look in there, it is easy to spot things that should have been sorted out for recycling. It really does take that personal commitment.

When I lived in Wellesley, we had to do a lot more sorting of the materials and they still do. You have 3 separate colors of glass to sort, 2 types of cardboard, 3 different categories of hard plastic, aluminum cans, steel cans, aluminum foil and trays, etc….. yet people took the time. (This helps reduce their costs or even allow them to make back some money on selling the recyclables.) Most of our recyclable stuff is comingled so you can be pretty lazy and still recycle. Yet their rate is more than double ours!! That included those with the fanciest cars- no one was above the commitment. Just load up the trunks and do it. Very few chose private trash pickup- not sure if that has an impact. Maybe people are better educated about what a benefit there is for the town’s finances and our planet. In any case, the personal commitment to recycling times the population of the town equals the recycling rate.

Kelly Roney
12 years ago

I wish that the state published (and demanded) better numbers. Percentages are a bad measure since they don’t recognize pre-cycling; better would be total quantity dumped per person.

An example: When I stopped taking a daily newspaper, my rate of recycling went down, but my impact on the planet shrank, since the trees didn’t have to be cut and pulped, the newsprint didn’t have to be inked, and the finished paper didn’t need delivery by truck and car.

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