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[GreenYes] Massachusetts' recycling based community economic development program
Apologies for cross postings

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jennifer Capuano	
Tel:  617-884-6237	February 25, 2002

Communities Find Value in Local Wastestream

	Businesses and communities trying to navigate their way through tough
economic times shouldn't overlook an important potential source of revenue:
their local trash bins.
	From New Bedford to North Adams, several Massachusetts communities over
the past three years have taken advantage of a grant program that helps
identify opportunities for local economic development based on recovering
and reusing what's currently thrown out in commercial and municipal waste
streams. Known as "recycling-based community economic development" (RBED),
the concept is starting to catch on as more and more communities see the
economic potential in discovering which company's trash might be another's
firm's feedstock or other ways in which locally discarded materials might
find new life to the community's benefit.
	The Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic Development, a program of
the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and the Commonwealth's Strategic
Envirotechnology Partnership (STEP) started awarding the grants - up to
$25,000 per project -- in Fiscal Year 2000. The funding for the grants
comes from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the Clean
Environment Fund, which is comprised of unredeemed bottle deposits.   To
date, the Center has supported 14 projects.  Preliminary applications for
Fiscal Year 2003 grants are due March 15 and final proposals are due at the
end of May.
	"I think every community needs to look at their own situation and see if
there are clusters and concentrations of recyclable wastes," says Douglas
Ling, Director of Economic Development for the Asian Community Development
Corporation (ACDC) in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood.  With a Chelsea
Center RBED grant that paid for a study by Boston University researchers,
Ling and his ACDC colleagues learned that both the market and workforce in
Chinatown are ripe for successful development of a local enterprise to
remanufacture surplus hospital beds and dental chairs from the cluster of
hospitals and medical schools nearby.  These facilities provide a steady
waste stream that will become the feedstock for such businesses, and
Chinatown's workforce would welcome manufacturing jobs. The ACDC board is
currently reviewing the business plan for a remanufacturing enterprise,
giving due consideration to the economic viability and sustainability of
the venture.
	Meanwhile, in New Bedford, an effort is underway to help a local business
expand its product line and markets by recovering organic waste from the
City's numerous fish processing plants.  By recovering waste from the
plants, Advanced Marine Technologies, Inc. can expand its ability to
manufacture high-grade organic fertilizer and nutritional food supplements
made from fish wastes; at the same time 25-30 local fish processing plants
can avoid the steep costs associated with the disposal of the organic waste
stream, and divert a large amount of waste from the local landfill.
Increased manufacturing capacity at Advanced Marine Technologies will
translate into expanded markets for the company and additional jobs in the
local economy.
	Because of its interest in extending the life of the local landfill, the
Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse District also has provided a grant to
support the project, complementing the Chelsea Center's RBED grant to the
New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce's Sustainable Greater New Bedford
group, which initiated the effort.
 	In Springfield, the desire to help a local business stay in business in
the City has produced a collaborative effort to develop additional
feedstock from locally recycled materials - incl=g the company's own
products.  Corex Products Inc. manufactures hard plastic desktops and chair
backs for school furniture.  The company has determined that it can grind
up its old products and use the resulting "flour" as feedstock in
production of new desktops and chair backs.  The City is currently working
with the school department to determine the usual lifespan of classroom
desks and chairs, and current disposal practices and costs to find out
whether the schools might generate a waste stream that can be turned into
feedstock for Corex.   Other sources of local potential feedstocks, such as
recycled wood pallets, also are being explored.  The work with Corex
resulted from a previous RBED grant, which was used to inventory material
flows and business sector information in hopes of identifying
recycling-based business retention and attraction opportunities. That
inventory was done in connection with a proposal to develop a
recycling-based eco-industrial park on a brownfield property located in the
Indian Orchard section of the City.
	In every case, a successful RBED project requires a collaborative effort
among local officials, economic development agencies, recyclers, businesses
and community-based organizations, and a commitment among the parties to
work together for a number of months or even years. RBED projects, like
other economic development projects, are rarely quick or easy. Significant
time and effort may be required to identify which waste streams offer the
best opportunity for economic development, and there may be logistical
details that need to be resolved before a program can be established. 
	In addition to the economic and environmental benefits to be realized,
there are other important outcomes that make the effort worthwhile.
	The Center for Ecological Technology (CET) used a Chelsea Center RBED
grant to survey local businesses in Adams and North Adams, identify problem
materials that with recycling or reuse potential, and develop a database to
identify and track opportunities for waste or resource exchanges.  "A lot
of great things came out of this effort," says Laura Dubester of CET.
"Getting people from various businesses together to think both practically
and creatively about waste was invaluable to the project."   
	For more information about the grant program or other RBED projects,
contact Jennifer Capuano at the Chelsea Center at 617-884-6237 or e-mail:


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