BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration announced more than $2.3 million in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) grants to 238 municipalities and regional solid waste districts to help communities maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs.
The SMRP, which was created under the Green Communities Act and is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
“Important environmental protection work happens every day in communities across the Commonwealth, and the funds awarded through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program are important for continuing those efforts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “SMRP funds allow the state to work with 238 cities and towns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources save money, and support jobs.”
“Partnerships with communities across the state through the SMRP are crucial to increasing recycling and reducing waste,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Today’s investment in local recycling efforts will help communities become more sustainable and closer to achieving their waste reduction goals.”
During the first round of 2017 SMRP funding, 185 communities qualified for the “Recycling Dividends Program” (RDP) and will receive payments ranging from $2,100 to $84,500, for a total of $2.25 million statewide. The RDP recognizes municipalities that have implemented policies and programs proven to maximize materials reuse and recycling, as well as waste reduction. Communities that earn RDP payments must reinvest the funds in their recycling programs for things such as new recycling bins or carts, public education and outreach campaigns, collection of hard-to-recycle items and the establishment of recycling programs in schools, municipal buildings and other public spaces.
“The Commonwealth’s environment and the public health benefit when municipalities are committed to reducing waste and increasing recycling,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting these local efforts, and this grant program ensures that communities have the resources they need to reach their recycling and waste reduction goals.”
As part of the SMRP, an additional 53 municipalities and regional entities that did not apply for or qualify for an RDP grant will be awarded a total of $53,750 for a “Small-Scale Initiatives Grant.” These population-based grants range from $500 to $2,000 each and help communities purchase modest, but critical recycling materials and outreach tools needed to sustain their existing recycling program or to facilitate new, low-cost initiatives.
“MassDEP and our community partners continue to work together to capture more materials that can be reused and recycled,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These grants will help provide new bins or carts, increase educational outreach efforts and expand recycling programs to under-served community sectors like schools and parks.”
The RDP was a new initiative rolled out in 2014 under MassDEP’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which was created by the Green Communities Act of 2008. The Act requires that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Waste Energy Certificates (WECs) be directed to recycling programs approved by MassDEP. The SMRP initiative has provided more than $24 million in recycling programs since July of 2010.
The number of municipalities that qualified for the RDP increased nearly 10 percent over last year and the value of the awards also increased. In this round, seven municipalities will receive payments in excess of $50,000: New Bedford at $84,500; Cambridge and Springfield at $71,500 each; Worcester at $65,000; Lowell at $64,000; and Brockton and Lynn at $52,000 each. On the other end of the scale, Cheshire, Paxton and Shutesbury will receive $2,100 each.
“Communities across the Commonwealth continue to recognize the importance of recycling to reduce waste, protect our natural resources and provide a path for a safe and sustainable future for our residents,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “It is our shared responsibility to do our best to preserve our environment for future generations in the Commonwealth and this vital funding is another important step towards preserving our planet.”
“Markets and costs in recapturing waste materials fluctuate, but an important constant remains – the desire by state and municipal leaders to reduce waste and maximize opportunities to expand recycling collections,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “These state DEP grants will have a positive and direct impact on the environment, local economies, and the quality of life for residents.”
“These grant funds will help communities across the Commonwealth reduce their solid waste footprint and meet waste reduction goals,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “Massachusetts has always taken the lead on sustainability and I want to thank Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for their support of this program.”
“The Recycling Dividends Program and Small-Scale Initiatives grants announced by MassDEP today will help to enhance local recycling and waste reduction efforts in cities and towns across the Commonwealth,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “This ongoing state-municipal partnership will result in many positive long-term benefits for the environment.”
“It is great to see so many towns, particularly in the Berkshires, working hard to increase local recycling efforts, reduce their waste, and move towards reusing as much material as possible,” said State Representative William Pignatelli (D-Lenox), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants show the level of commitment the Baker Administration and MassDEP have towards working with municipalities, across the Commonwealth, in becoming better stewards for our environment.”
A complete list of the 238 RDP and Small Scale grant awards can be viewed here.
The WEC payments received by MassDEP are deposited into the SMRP Expendable Trust, which is used to fund grants, technical assistance and education to help communities, businesses and institutions increase recycling and reduce waste.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.