Environment and Engineering Sections

No Mere Diversion

Springfield Municipal Recycling Facility Marks 25 Years in Operation

Mass. Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) leaders recently joined local, state, and federal officials to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Springfield Municipal Recycling Facility (MRF). The Springfield MRF is owned by MassDEP, operated by Waste Management Inc., and counts 75 Western Mass. communities as members.  

Over the past quarter-century, member towns have recycled and diverted more than 1 million tons of material, saved more than $62 million in avoided trash-disposal costs, and received approximately $14.5 million in revenue from the Springfield MRF due to the sale of the recycled materials on the open market.

“The success of the Springfield MRF was made possible by the state and community partners working in tandem to create a successful, scalable resource for thousands of residents,” said MassDEP Commissioner David Cash. “The MRF is the perfect combination of environmental protection through waste diversion and economic growth through the sale of valuable materials.”

The 25th-anniversary celebration was held at the Delaney House in Holyoke, and guests included state Rep. Stephen Kulik and Greg Superneau, chair of the Springfield MRF advisory board.

“All of us in Western Massachusetts can be proud that, for 25 years, we have led the way with effective municipal recycling programs in the Commonwealth,” Kulik said. “The revenues that come back to cities and towns from the MRF have saved local taxpayers millions of dollars, and we are reusing materials that used to be buried in landfills. Our recycling success has created jobs, saved money, and created a cleaner and healthier environment.”

Added Superneau, “this anniversary stands as a testament to the spirit of cooperation from all of our MRF community members.”

In the fall of 1989, MassDEP provided the bricks and mortar to build the Springfield MRF. By the end of 1989, the first cities and towns in Western Mass. delivered their newspaper, glass, steel, and aluminum cans for processing. Since 1995, the MRF has consistently turned a profit that continues to pay municipalities a reliable revenue source from the sale of their recyclables.

“I am proud of the partnership we have had with MassDEP and our communities over the years,” said Chris Lucarelle, area recycling operations director for Waste Management. “We have not only played the role of an operator, but have had the opportunity to be an innovator as well. Through the advisory board, we will continue to work with the members to advance our capabilities with the common goal of recycling more and wasting less. We look forward to continuing our partnership for years to come.”

The communities are represented by municipal delegates on the advisory board, which acts as a liaison between the MRF and its member communities and works to increase the quality and quantity of recyclables coming into the facility. Over the years, the board has provided communities with recycling bins, mini-grant funding, educational materials, and long-term planning for regional recycling.

“Simply put, the completion of the Springfield MRF in 1989 was one of my signature accomplishments as mayor of Springfield,” U.S. Rep. Richard Neal noted in written remarks delivered to the anniversary celebration. “Twenty-five years later, I am still proud that the inaugural recycling center in Massachusetts was built in the City of Firsts. Now serving 75 communities in the region, the facility reinforced our legacy of innovation, and helped clean and protect the environment in the process. With this bold initiative a quarter of a century ago, we put ourselves on the forefront of the clean-energy movement.”