New Pilot Program Aims to Increase Recycling in Massachusetts Subway Stations
Commuters walking in and out of Cambridge’s Alewife station will soon be met with 7-foot tall, U.S.-made kiosks built with 100 percent recycled materials, offering riders the space and information to recycle on the go.
The two kiosks are part of a pilot program designed by MassRecycle in partnership with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Massachusetts Beverage Association, and Casella Recycling, with the long-term goal of increasing recycling in MBTA Subway stations.
Cambridge’s Alewife Station is the northernmost stop on the Red Line and sees over 11,000 visitors per weekday, including those who travel to the station on foot, by bus and by car.
“We take pride in the MBTA’s ability to foster more sustainable lifestyles and help commuters reduce their carbon footprint,” said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. “Increasing the T’s ability to recycle, and educating its customers on the environmental advantages of the program, is a very important step towards making the MBTA the most sustainable transit organization in the country. It is also a great example of public and private collaboration for the betterment of Boston and surrounding communities.”
The recycling receptacles are expected to not only be cost-neutral when it comes to maintenance, but to have the potential to increase revenue for the MBTA if used on a larger scale by making space for increased advertising revenue and adding valuable materials to recycling tonnages, including aluminum and PET, the material used for water bottles.
“Community recycling programs do an excellent job of diverting materials from the waste stream, but it’s also important to make it easier for people to recycle on the go,” said Nicole Giambusso, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Beverage Association. “This pilot program targets a heavily travelled public space with education and accessibility, both of which are critical to any effort to increase recycling.”
The Massachusetts Beverage Association is a sponsor of the Alewife pilot program as part of its Massachusetts Recycling Challenge, which has included placing recycling receptacles in high foot-traffic areas in Worcester, Lowell, Salem, Quincy, and several other communities to increase on-the-go recycling, as well as providing technical assistance to communities seeking to enhance their municipal recycling programs, and holding seminars that were collectively attended by representatives from over 100 cities and towns.
“To increase the state’s recycling rate, it’s important that we target the issue from all angles,” said Edward Hsieh, executive director of MassRecycle. “Highly travelled public spaces like MBTA Subway stations are a critical part of the waste-reduction puzzle in Massachusetts. This pilot program is the perfect example of how an organization, public or private, can do its part to offer convenient public space recycling.”
Casella Recycling is supporting the project by offering design and marketing services and consultation free of charge. Casella Recycling will also provide removal service for the recyclables collected during the pilot program.
The new recycling receptacles were unveiled at an event Wednesday morning, which included remarks by Frank DePaola, MBTA general manager, Cambridge Mayor David Maher, Jefferson Smith of MassRecycle, and Steve Boksanski, a representative for The Massachusetts Beverage Association.
“Increasing recycling is a top priority in Cambridge,” said Maher. “I know that residents of Cambridge and surrounding areas are committed to protecting our local environment, and this program gives them added infrastructure to do what is right.”
The MBTA, Massachusetts Beverage Association and MassRecycle will evaluate the pilot program as it progresses to determine how successes can be replicated at other MBTA Subway stations.