RecyclingWorks in Lynn

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lynn Saves Big if Everyone Recycles.

Incinerator in Saugus, where Lynn paid $2 million to burn trash (& recyclables) last year.
I had a friend call me tonight and she mentioned that her 64 gallon trash cart was not big enough for her two-person household.  I said "How could that be?"  She told me that she recycled but not anything that was contaminated by food waste.  She was certainly not going to spend her time washing out a tuna fish can or anything else that contained food.  I told her "Then, you are not recycling".  She then told me that she paid taxes and expected the City of Lynn to provide her trash services.  I then proceeded to tell her that she was getting trash services, and more than most communities provide in Massachusetts, even with the new system.  She didn't want to hear it and ended the call, too busy to change her thinking about the best use of her time and her tax dollars.  This, from a woman who considers herself a civic minded member of the community.

Well, Here ye, Here ye, citizens of Lynn.  Last year the City spent $2 million paying to dump it's trash at the Incinerator in Saugus, MA.  Most of that trash contained recyclables and if they had been separated out, Lynn could have saved about $1.7 million.  Of course, that would be in a perfect world.  In 2014 Lynn ended the year with a recycling rate of only 7%.  If we could get that recycling rate up to just 25%, we could save in the ballpark of $500,000; no small amount of money for a city always strapped for cash.  I hope the fiscal conservatives are paying attention.

So, one way for Lynn to save is to recycle more but the other way is to trash less.  According to a recent article in Commonwealth Magazine Seriously, Is this the best we can do?   Lynn's trash problems are discussed and it is noted that although Lynn citizens may be alarmed by a limit of 64 gallons of trash per household per week, we are still trashing too much.  The writer points out that "(In Lynn), a family putting out one cart of trash per week could still generate an estimated 2,330 pounds of trash per year, or about 863 pounds for each person in a typical Lynn home. That’s 45 percent more trash than the average Massachusetts resident generates".  What's in that trash?  Probably unwashed tuna fish cans and other recyclables. 

Other things that may be in the trash but should come out are things like textiles--clothes and sheets and old curtains, all can be donated to places like the Salvation Army, St, Vincent dePaul and Goodwill.  Donated textiles are likely to be 100% reused or recycled.  Think how light all those 64 gallon carts would be with all the textiles out of them.  Then there are books, and lights, and computers and equipment and so many things that can be donated or diverted outside the trash cart.  We just need to change our thinking about trash and recycling, about washing out a tuna can instead of tossing it in the trash, about whether its better to spend $500,000 at the incinerator or on fixing pot holes and beautifying our streets.  The choice is really ours.