Column: Reduce, reuse, recycle but, most of all, reduce – The Local

Image by Martin Stadlober from Pixabay
by Paula Jones

This past Sunday, the Boston Globe ran a front-page lead story discussing the growing costs of recycling that is hitting towns in western Massachusetts.

And as many of us know, recycling costs are hitting us in eastern Mass. and Ipswich as well.

According to the Globe article, “Boston, for example, is now paying nearly $5 million to have recycling collections carted away, up from just $200,000 in 2017.”

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In Ipswich, our recycling costs are bundled with our hauling of trash.

Marlene Connolly, town of Ipswich Waste Reduction Manager, explains that, “In 2017, we (the town) were making $10 per ton on recycled materials; but we don’t make that anymore. Now the cost of hauling (where haulers JRM included the recycling processing costs) went up $200,000 per year starting July 1, 2018. Which is a LOT. But we don’t pay per ton like some of the other towns.” 

In July of 2017, China notified the World Trade Organization that it would put a stop to importing 24 varieties of solid waste, including types of plastic and unsorted paper commonly sent from the U.S. (mostly because many of these materials were contaminated with mixed materials from lazy recycling practices and confusing information on what is recyclable.)  

Although some materials continue to move, their values have dropped due to reduced demand.

Recyclers are also facing increased inspections for contamination levels. As a result, material recovery facilities like ours (JRM) have adjusted their processing to remove additional contaminants which has increased their operating costs.

As their costs rise, so does our town’s costs for managing our waste and hauling. The new focus for now is to reduce our waste. 

In 2017, the Ipswich Recycling Committee revised our name and our mission.

We changed our name to the Ipswich Waste Reduction Advisory Committee, and we did so to sync our mission with the new realities of managing waste.

Although our commitment to recycling remains, our new focus is reducing waste.

Waste reduction (or prevention) is the preferred approach to waste management, because waste that never gets created doesn’t have waste management costs.

Try incorporating some small tweaks into your routine. You’ll throw out less trash and help fight climate change at the same time.

Buy well-made products and borrow the items that you rarely use.

When you purchase long-lasting clothes, housewares, and electronics, you’ll trash them less often.

Even better, when possible, borrow or buy used goods.

Cut plastic and single-use items out of your daily routine. For example, swap your facial wipes for a reusable washcloth and of course, please use reusable water bottles and shopping bags.

Think about joining the Ipswich Curbside Composting Program: On average, Americans toss out a staggering 400 pounds of food per person every year. Most of it ends up in a landfill, where it releases methane, a potent contributor to climate change.

By composting organics with the Ipswich compost program, you can turn waste into rich compost. 

We will continue to bring you news on recycling in Ipswich and waste reduction ideas.

Paula Jones is a member of the town’s waste reduction advisory committee, which can be reached at or on the Facebook page, Ipswich Recycles & Composts.