So long to sorting in Somerville

On September 24, 2010, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Single stream recycling pilot starts Oct. 6

At a recent community meeting, Ward 5 resident Courtney O'Keefe checks out one of the new recycling bins to be used in a pilot program in her neighborhood. - Photo by Elizabeth Sheeran

By Elizabeth Sheeran

Tired of sorting your paper from your plastics? Recyclables sorting could soon be a thing of the past in Somerville, if a new pilot program goes as planned.

The City of Somerville is bringing so-called “single stream” recycling to town, trying it out first in an area of around 1,300 households in Ward 5. Under the new program, residents will put all recyclable papers, cardboard, cans, glass and plastic in one cart.  The goal is to get households to recycle more by making it easier.

“The big motivation is to get our recycling rate up and our solid waste disposal down,” said David Lutes of Somerville’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, which held a community meeting on September 16 to introduce the pilot program and answer questions.

Lutes said results elsewhere show that less hassle for homeowners means a lot more waste goes to the recycling center instead of the landfill. That cuts down on solid waste tipping fees paid by the city, and increases the revenue it gets from recycling.

According to Brooke Nash at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which is providing grant money for communities to switch to single stream recycling, approximately 40 Massachusetts municipalities have converted in the past year alone. Lutes said single stream programs have boosted recycling rates by more than 50 percent in some communities.

The Somerville pilot program includes a section of Ward 5 bordered by Broadway, Central Street, Albion Street, Lowell Street and Charles E. Ryan Road. Officials chose that area because its past recycling rate is close to the citywide average, making it a good neighborhood to test out what will work in the rest of Somerville.

Each household in the pilot area will receive its new larger recycling bin sometime between September 29 and October 1. The blue, 65-gallon covered carts will be delivered curbside during the day, and will come with literature about the program. Weekly collections of single stream recyclables will begin on Wednesday, October 6.

Ward 5 residents who attended the September 16 meeting were generally enthusiastic about the pilot. A number of homeowners said the new program will reduce trash day mess, since everything will be in one bin.

“I think it’s a great idea, because they’re covered, and they’re large enough,” said Andrew Kasparian, who owns a three-family residence on Hinckley Street in the pilot neighborhood. “Right now, as soon as the newspapers go out and all the recycling goes out, everything blows around and I end up with the other guy’s trash on the street in front of my house.”

Lutes said the pilot program will run for at least three months, after which the city will study the results to develop a plan for citywide rollout.


The city will hold a second community meeting on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 11 a.m. in the Visiting Nurses Association third floor community room, located at 259 Lowell Street. For more information, call 311 or contact Carlene Campbell, director of community relations, at 617-625-6600 extension 2615, or visit


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