The city has been awarded a $40,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to improve recycling quality, according to an announcement from Mayor Thomas M. McGee.
With the funding, the city will implement the tools and resources of MassDEP’s Recycling IQ Kit, a program that provides education and feedback to residents on how to properly recycle.
This is the second year Lynn, one of the first communities to implement the program, is receiving the grant — last year, the city received a $15,000 grant, according to the mayor’s office.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) ran the program in 10 neighborhoods over 16 weeks, reaching more than 5,000 households. Recycling contamination for those households decreased by more than 70 percent as a result of the program, according to the mayor’s office.
The program will begin in May and run for 16 weeks. A team of summer workers will be hired to implement the program at the curbside for an additional 5,000 households this year. The program also pays for the cost of media and direct mail pieces to educate Lynn residents on proper recycling habits.
“Increasing the amount we recycle, and improving the quality of the recycling will help the environment and decrease cost to the city of Lynn,” said McGee in a statement. “Given the increasing signs of climate change, all communities need to make an extra effort to reduce the contamination in recycling. This grant acknowledges the strides Lynn residents have made in increasing recycling over the past few years, while helping them adjust to the new standards now in place.”
Contamination in recycling is a national problem, which has become an urgent issue for all communities in the past year, said Lisa Nerich, Lynn DPW associate commissioner, in a statement. She said China buys 80 percent of the world’s recyclables and in 2017, the country announced new, very strict standards on the quality of recyclables they will accept.
As a result, she said all communities now need to enforce the stricter standards by decreasing contamination in recycling, or pay for the cost of disposing of contaminated recycling. Contaminated recycling includes plastic bags, food and liquid, dirty napkins and paper towels, along with clothing, electronics and furniture.
“The city of Lynn has made great progress in making it easier for residents to recycle and the Recycling IQ Kit will help with our continued efforts,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) in a statement. “Increased recycling not only protects the environment, but also helps lower costs to the city and improves our neighborhoods.”
State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said in a statement: “Lynn’s successful implementation of automated curbside recycling has opened the door for further investment like the Recycling IQ Kit grant. This will lead to greater public awareness and reduction of contaminated recyclables.”
“Good recycling practices rarely make front-page news, but under one-third of the material that can be recycled in Lynn is actually diverted,” said state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) in a statement. “Every bit of recyclable material that is thrown away is money down the drain and taxpayers end up footing the bill. It’s a worthy initiative to encourage recycling in Lynn since it saves money and protects the environment.”