Recycling at family housing complexes a big success

Recycling at family housing complexes a big success

PAWTUCKET - A recycling initiative city officials believe 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 all now recycling. Officials will hold a press conference this Friday, Jan. 24.

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, the city's sanitation service provider since last year.

Mutter said city Public Works Director Lance Hill suggested to representatives for MTG that the company partner with the Pawtucket Housing Authority. The PHA has two family complexes, one located at 560 Prospect St. on the east side of the city with 292 units and 868 residents, and one at 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 month. 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 Pawtucket Housing Authority piggybacked on the city's contract price with MTG for purchase of the blue recycling bins, which the 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, said Vadnais in a statement. "It's a unique recycling effort in the public housing family community in Rhode Island, and the acceptance has been amazing."

MTG officials 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.