The Mashpee Transfer Station will roll out a new recycling program Monday requiring residents to sort recyclables by type: tin and aluminum cans, plastic, mixed glass, newspaper, mixed paper, and corrugated cardboard.
On Wednesday morning, several users of the transfer station gave their reactions to the pending change as they dropped off their recycling. On that morning, they still were allowed to use the “single-stream” recycling program which has been in place for almost 10 years.
Most said the shift away from single-stream recycling—a move which is projected to save the town as much as $60,000—will not stop them from recycling, though it could affect whether others recycle.
One resident, when asked about the sorting program, said only “report this” and gave the reporter two thumbs down.
Other residents had a more positive reaction.
“I like to recycle,” Patricia Jewett said.
While she thought that the change might affect how some people recycle she said, “The people that want to recycle will do it.”
Another transfer station user, who gave his name only as Brian, said “I think there will be a lot more people just dumping their recycling with the trash,” due to the new program. But he said that he will continue to recycle.
“I’m kind of surprised that they have some of this stuff together anyways,” said another user of transfer station, Brian Welch, as he carried his recycling to the bins Wednesday morning.
April Mittlefehldt, who sorted her recycling even though the sorting program does not officially begin until Monday, said “I think it’s super easy.”
“It’s not really an added step when you get used to it,” she said.
Next time, though, she said she would probably sort her recycling before she was in the parking lot.
Mark Pasquerella, a transfer station employee, said that he thought that having transfer station users sort their recycling into six bins might increase traffic at the station, especially if people are sorting their recycling in the parking lot.
He also noted some common sorting mistakes that people sometimes make.
Paper bags, for example, do not belong in the newspaper bin and dirty containers, like jars still filled with peanut butter, must be cleaned before they can be recycled.
In general, he said, “people are pretty good about it.”
The change from single-stream recycling to the new sorting system comes because of new recycling policies in China, which used to accept large quantities of recyclables from the United States, but since 2018 has become more restrictive in its import of recyclables.
Mashpee is not alone in feeling the effects of oversea policy change.
“The entire commonwealth’s recycling has changed, as well as nationally and globally,” said Kari Parcell, regional waste reduction coordinator with Barnstable County.
Other towns, including Barnstable, have switched from single-stream to sorted recycling, Ms. Parcell said.
For at least one Mashpee resident, the move away from exporting recyclables to China is encouraging.
“I’d rather stand here and sort it out than send anything to China,” Ken Gauvin Sr. said after dropping off his recyclables. “Hopefully this will create jobs here.”
Ms. Parcell said recycling is important, even if it requires a little bit of extra sorting.
“There’s no doubt it helps with the carbon footprint,” she said. “Environmentally, it’s a great thing.”
Recycling also creates jobs both in Massachusetts and across the country, Ms. Parcell said. From jobs at transfer stations and recycling plants to coordinating positions like her own, Ms. Parcell said there are about 14,000 jobs related to recycling in Massachusetts.
To reduce the human impact on the environment, she said, people should consider “how can we spend less, use less, consume less.”
One transfer station user had similar thoughts.
“I think we all just need to buy less,” said Jean Garvin. She called the recycling sorting program “the next logical step.”
Another transfer station user, Jim A. LeBlanc, said that he thinks the new program could increase the amount people recycle by putting a “limelight” on recyclables. “I think that it’s a good idea,” he said.
Transfer station stickers cost $150 for trash and recycling disposal or $30 for recycling only and are available at the Mashpee town clerk’s office. Although the pink stickers on sale this year are printed with a typo saying they expire in June of 2019, they will be accepted until June of 2020, according to the town clerk’s office.
Catherine Laurent, director of the Mashpee Department of Public Works, was not available to answer questions about the new recycling program.