The Town of Dedham is striving to become a leader in sustainability. In 2009 the Town was one of three communities to receive the Leading by Example Award from the State for outstanding efforts to establish and implement policies and programs resulting in significant and demonstrable environmental benefits in the realm of energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, and waste reduction. The Town has been proactive in its recycling efforts, signing the resolution in support of the Mass Recycles Paper! Campaign and the resolution in support of updating the Massachusetts Bottle Bill.
In November 2009, the Town of Dedham introduced Single Stream Recycling and Automated Collection. The purpose of a single stream recycling system is to make recycling easier for residents by eliminating the need to sort recyclable materials. Each resident was given a ninety six gallon recycling toter and a sixty four gallon trash toter free of charge. Senior citizens or residents living alone could exchange the large bins for the smaller, thirty two gallon model. Additional trash bins were available with a onetime fifty dollar charge and a yearly seventy dollar collection fee. However, families of six or more or those with a financial hardship could apply for a fee waiver for an extra trash bin. The recycling barrels were designed to be larger than the trash bins to encourage residents to recycle more and trash less. As a result of this program, trash tonnage has dropped by 4,000 tons and recycling rates in Dedham have doubled from 12 tons to 25.29 tons in the first seven months since its implementation. In addition, the town has saved $400,000 since switching to Russell Disposal.
Prior to starting this program the Town conducted a yearlong education and outreach campaign that included visiting each precinct to explain the program. In addition to the public meetings the Town created a new Recycling and Trash Guide for Dedham Residents. The effort we put into educating our residents prior to the implementation of the program paid off with greater participation and understanding of the recycling process as a whole. Prior to the start of this program residents could put up to 5 barrels of trash out for collection. The new program signifies a shift in the way the community thinks about trash and as a result we have greatly reduced the waste generated by Dedham residents.
In addition to our curbside program the Town continues to maintain free, weekly collection of bulky items and white goods. Dedham also owns a Transfer Station, which is operated by Recycling Solutions and open on Saturdays for Dedham residents to dispose of free of charge, no more than 3 bags of trash.
Supplementing the Town’s programs, each year the Dedham High School Marching Band & Color Guard runs an electronic equipment recycling day. The Board of Health also runs each year a Household Hazardous Waste Day and for the first time will be running a Medication Disposal Day. For the third year in a row the Environmental Department has sold the Earth Machine compost bins at the Dedham Farmer’s Market. To date over 407 bins have been sold. This year marks the second anniversary of the Town’s participation in America Recycles Day. In celebration of this day, the Town of Dedham’s Environmental Department organizes a local recycling competition among the elementary schools.
These cumulative efforts by the Town has earned Dedham the MassRecycles 2010 Green Binnie award for innovative programs to reduce waste and increase recycling.