New coordinator would ramp up recycling for city, schools

New coordinator would ramp up recycling for city, schools

Position should pay for itself, say officials

PAWTUCKET - A move to add a new recycling coordinator in the city could boost local recycling efforts and pay for itself, according to city officials.

The "recycling and sustainability administrator" would be responsible for improving the city's recycling rate, with a focus in local public schools, according to Public Works Director Lance Hill.

Currently there is very minimal recycling happening in some schools, said Dylan Zelazo, spokesman for Mayor Donald Grebien, and the administrator would help get a "holistic" district-wide effort off the ground.

Hill is also looking for the new administrator to focus on energy efficiency initiatives, efforts that would reduce the city's "carbon footprint" and decrease the amount of energy used to bring about lower utility costs.

"He wants to get a lot of value out of this one position," said Zelazo.

The new administrator would help bring Pawtucket in line with other communities in the area, said Zelazo, many of which have had a recycling coordinator in place for a long time.

The City Council gave initial approval to the new position last Wednesday and will likely give it a final go-ahead next week.

Councilor Mark Wildenhain said he thinks it would be an "atrocity" to continue having students throw all their waste in the same container when they're learning something else entirely in the classroom and at home. City officials asked two years ago that schools start recycling more, said Wildenhain, and the new administrator would help finally make it happen.

City Council President David Moran said he sees the recycling coordinator "as an investment," a chance to see big improvement at no cost to taxpayers. If the new hire doesn't do enough to pay for their position, said council members, the job simply goes away.

The City Council Finance Committee, made up of John Barry, Larry Tetreault and Wildenhain, have asked for a set of metrics to determine whether the new position is actually paying for itself. Hill is currently coming up with a system to give the council, said Zelazo.

When Pawtucket sends recyclable materials to the Central Landfill in Johnston, the city gets money back, said Zelazo. Money is divided up between communities based on how much Rhode Island Resource Recovery is able to get when reselling materials. Different goods have different values.

The money that comes back to a community like Pawtucket must be used to further advance recycling efforts. The city currently has enough in its account, $180,000 to fund the new recycling position, at a salary range of $49,660 to $57,445, for three years, said Zelazo.

With a no-bin, no-barrel program and automated recycling now in place, Pawtucket residents have been able to bump up the city's recycling rate from 17.5 percent to just shy of 25 percent, said Zelazo. Once the city hits 25 percent, it will receive a $20,000 check from Rhode Island Resource Recovery.

Communities are now required to increase recycling to a 35 percent rate. Once Pawtucket reaches 30 percent, the city will receive another $20,000, and the same will happen again at 35 percent, said Zelazo. That money, unlike the money from the sale of recycling, goes back into the local general fund.

The "profit share" money has been spent on various items over the years, said Zelazo, like a wood chipper to break down plant waste and make it easier to store and transport.

The recycling effort in local schools will be especially important, said Zelazo, because students should in theory bring the behavior home to their parents. Those who remain Pawtucket residents for life will benefit from having those good habits consistently instilled early on, he said.

Comments

I guess the mayor needs to give another friend a job. This must be the guy who didn't make it into the latest fire academy.