Newly negotiated contracts in Massachusetts took effect July 1, across the region, with significant costs for the communities, but officials said residents generally should not notice a difference in operations. Whereas recycling paid for itself in the past — and even generated profits, the poor commodities market in recent years including China’s refusal to accept the materials in bulk from the U.S., has led to significant costs for communities, officials said. “We are still rebounding from that,” said Steve Ellis, area manager for recycling of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “The market is responding but not responding quickly. It was a huge impact on the market, particularly plastics and paper.”
Single-stream recycling programs, in which residents combine their cans, bottles, paper waste and other recyclables, continues in many of the largest communities such as Springfield and Chicopee, although their budgets are taking a hit. Springfield has set aside $833,000 for its recycling budget in fiscal 2021, as compared to “zero” cost in the past, said Christopher Cignoli, the city’s director of public works. That new cost, however, will be partially offset by revenues shared between the city and the contractor, as negotiated, he said.
The city has a new recycling contract with Casella Waste Systems, which has a recycling processing facility in Auburn. The city collects recycling in a single-stream program, and brings it to a transfer station on Tremont Street in Indian Orchard, for Casella to transport to Auburn. The city’s share of recycling revenues could be $300,000 a year, to help ease some of its costs, Cignoli said. Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said the city remains committed to a strong single stream recycling program despite the financial challenge. “This is the right thing to do for our community and the right thing for the environment,” Sarno said.