Pawtucket News

Unique Recycling Program a Success at Pawtucket Public Housing Complex

RecyclingPAWTUCKET - A recycling initiative believed to be the first of its kind in the state at a family public housing complex has proven to be a big hit with residents of the city's largest such complex, who are recycling at a 100 percent rate.

Residential recycling at the state's numerous family public housing complexes has typically consisted of a few well-placed dumpsters where residents bring their cans, bottles and cardboard materials, according to Steve Mutter, special projects coordinator for MTG Disposal.

Mutter said city Public Works Director Lance Hill suggested to MTG, which took over city trash and recycling collection last year, that it partner with the Pawtucket Housing Authority. The PHA has two family complexes: 560 Prospect St. on the east side of the city with 292 units and 868 residents; and Galego Court on the west side with 161 units and 479 residents.

At 560 Prospect St., 65-gallon recycling containers were distributed individually to all 292 units, with the first biweekly pickup last December. All but one unit complied, and after a visit from an AmericaCorps VISTA volunteer to explain the importance of recycling, that unit joined in and all 292 units participated in the two subsequent pickups, with the next one scheduled for Jan. 24.

The PHA piggybacked on the city's contract price with MTG for purchase of the blue recycling bins, which PHA will own after five years. PHA Executive Director Steve Vadnais said the message that recycling is important has been reinforced in youth programs and activities at the complex as well as by the VISTA volunteers, and builds on what students also learn in school.

"We made a conscious effort to wait for single stream recycling [introduced statewide last year]," where all recyclables now go in one container, Vadnais noted. "It's a unique recycling effort in the public housing family community in Rhode Island, and the acceptance has been amazing," he said.

MTG said the first three recycling collection pickups averaged 3.47 tons of clean recyclable material, while regular trash tonnage has shown a significant drop. PHA estimates it will save $3,000 in disposal fees from recycling materials being diverted from the regular waste stream. The city also receives credit for the collected recyclables as part of its municipal recycling rate.

Press conference attendees will include Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien and City Council members, as well as officials from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, Pawtucket Housing Authority and MTG Disposal.

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