Report Shows Dorchester and Roxbury Key for Improving Boston’s Recycling Rate

Boston Recycling Coalition Presents Survey Results to City Council, Calls for Zero Waste Planning

Boston, MA – The Boston Recycling Coalition (BRC) released new data last week that demonstrate there is much more potential for successful recycling and Zero Waste programs in Dorchester and Roxbury than previously recognized. These findings are based on a community survey of Dorchester and Roxbury residents and are showcased in a new report titled “Zero Waste Potential in Dorchester and Roxbury: The Boston Recycling Coalition Community Survey.” Boston’s residential recycling rate has hovered under 20% for years, far below the national average, with particularly low participation in some Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods. 

The BRC presented the report in a meeting at City Hall last Thursday, to several members of the Boston City Council, the City of Boston Public Works, Environment, Public Health and School Departments, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 

“The City of Boston has characterized Dorchester and Roxbury as areas with low participation in recycling,” said Katelyn Parady of Toxics Action Center, which co-coordinates the BRC. “But our conversations with hundreds of community members and our survey findings show clearly that Dorchester and Roxbury residents are excited about helping Boston improve its recycling and diversion rates. These new insights send a clear message: Dorchester and Roxbury are crucial partners in Boston’s journey to Zero Waste.”

Nearly 70% of Dorchester and Roxbury residents surveyed said they would compost household food scraps if the City provided curbside composting. According to Tolle Graham of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health, more than half of the community members who took the survey were also interested in jobs and other economic opportunities associated with Boston’s growing Zero Waste industry. “Zero Waste is about the environment, but it’s also about good jobs and strong local economies”, said Graham. “Residents of Dorchester and Roxbury know that Boston has an opportunity to develop a thriving Zero Waste workforce, with workers participating in innovative, local ventures for re-use and manufacturing.”

In their presentation to local officials on Thursday, members of the BRC also emphasized the importance of educational campaigns that target landlords, as well as residents of public housing, who need better information about how recycling works in their homes. The report notes that landlords are essential to the success of waste diversion and reduction in Boston, as fully two-thirds of residents are tenants. 

BRC Steering Committee member Curtis Rollins of the Boston Workers Alliance said the report is a reminder of how important it is for Boston to participate in a Zero Waste planning process that engages diverse stakeholders. “With a planning process that engages stakeholders from across the city, Boston can improve on programs of similar sized cities such as San Francisco, and Seattle to become a national leader on Zero Waste and ensure a healthy, sustainable, and economically vibrant future for all of its residents”, said Rollins.

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The Boston Recycling Coalition is an alliance that brings together key local and national environmental, worker, and community groups into a partnership aimed at rapid and responsible expansion of Boston’s Zero waste sector. Download the report at http://goo.gl/8PxQdL or contact report author Katelyn Parady at 617-747-4362 or katelyn@toxicsaction.org to receive a copy.

Tolle Graham, MassCOSH, 617-825-7233 x19

Alex Papali, Clean Water Action, 617-338-8131 x212

Katelyn Parady, Toxics Action Center, 617-747-4362

Curtis Rollins, Boston Workers Alliance, 713-724-4845