[GRRN] Community Economic Development Through Recycling

Amy Perlmutter (amyp@chelseacenter.org)
Thu, 23 Dec 1999 16:16:46 -0500


Massachusetts Communities Embark on Recycling-Based Economic Development

In 1996, Massachusetts communities spent more than $358 million dollars to
dispose of over 7 million tons of municipal solid waste. Instead of being
disposed of, these materials could have been used as resources to create new
products, thereby saving landfill space, reducing transportation related costs
and pollution, protecting the environment, and helping local economies.
Increasing the local demand for recycled materials is one way to reduce the
economic and environmental costs of disposing waste. The Chelsea Center for
Recycling and Economic Development recently awarded close to $100,000 to
Massachusetts' municipalities and community-based organizations to assist them
in identifying ways to reuse recyclable materials.

The Chelsea Center's Recycling-Based Community Economic Development Program is
helping four Massachusetts communities explore ways to expand their economic
base by taking advantage of the hidden values in municipal solid waste. With
grants of up to $25,000 from the Chelsea Center, these communities are
assessing their municipal and manufacturers' wastestreams, and linking this
information to the economic development needs in their community.
"Communities
are beginning to see their waste as a resource, " says Chelsea Center
Executive
Director Amy Perlmutter. " This program gives communities the opportunity to
turn liabilities into assets, and demonstrates how recycling-based economic
development can create jobs, add to the local tax base, and contribute to the
growth of a community's manufacturing sector, while also reducing waste,
supporting local recycling programs and helping the environment."

In Boston's Chinatown, where numerous food markets and restaurants pay rising
fees for waste disposal, the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC)
will adapt composting technology to Chinatown's food-related business wastes.
This project will assess the economic benefits of urban composting, and
explore
other material reuse or exchange programs that reduce the cost of waste
collection. Douglas Ling, Director of Economic Development at ACDC, believes
that the rapid-composting technology demonstration means more than just
reducing waste removal costs for Chinatown businesses. "This project can lead
to a whole new way of thinking, perhaps an enhanced sense of a sustainable
community that integrates job opportunities, business development, and
environmental protection, that will guide Chinatown's growth for years to
come," he said. "This would be a significant step towards that vision."

The City of Taunton is working to revitalize its manufacturing facilities,
redevelop its hazardous waste sites, and bring jobs to the area. With its
grant from the Chelsea Center, Taunton's Industrial Development Commission has
engaged Sustainable Solutions, Inc. to conduct an inventory of Greater Taunton
manufacturers to assess the nature, quality and tonnage of solid waste that is
generated. Materials will then be evaluated as potential feedstocks for new
recycling-based manufacturing opportunities, as well as new business
opportunities for existing recycling enterprises.

Another grant recipient, the Center for Ecological Technology (CET), hopes to
create new resource opportunities by identifying the flow of materials used
and
generated by businesses in Adams and North Adams. This information will be
compiled in a materials tracking database to help businesses expand their use
of recyclables, and spur new business development. "This project will not
only
enhance relationships among Berkshire businesses, but also stimulate new
economic growth," stated Laura Dubester, CET Director.

Boston's hospital and medical center cluster provides an opportunity to
examine
this industry's waste stream for reuse potential. A research group in the
Manufacturing Engineering Department of Boston University will team up with
community partners to investigate the potential for a medical equipment
remanufacturing enterprise in downtown Boston. Remanufacturing in Boston
could
bring industrial activity to inner-city communities in need of local jobs, and
produce materials and energy savings.

Funding for this program comes from the Clean Environment Fund, comprised of
unredeemed bottle deposits. Part of the University of Massachusetts at
Lowell,
the Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic Development was founded by the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1995 to create jobs, support recycling
efforts, and help the economy and the environment by working to increase the
use of recovered materials by manufacturers. The Chelsea Centerís goal is to
help create an infrastructure for a sustainable materials economy in
Massachusetts, where businesses will thrive that rely on locally discarded
goods as their feedstock and that minimize pressure on the environment by
reducing waste, pollution, dependence on virgin materials, and dependence on
disposal facilities. The Center does this by providing a range of services to
manufacturers, municipalities, and other service providers. For more
information, visit the Chelsea Centerís web site at www.chelseacenter.org.

For more information about the Recycling-Based Community Economic Development
Program, contact Jennifer Capuano at (617) 887-2300 x14 or
jenniferc@chelseacenter.org, or visit the Chelsea Center web site at
www.chelseacenter.org.

# # #

Amy Perlmutter
Executive Director
Chelsea Center for Recycling and
Economic Development
University of Massachusetts
180 Second Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
617-887-2300/fax 617-887-0399
visit our web site at www.chelseacenter.org