Special Recognition Award
Recycling in Wellesley is kicking off its second 50 years this Spring with a commitment to continue the proactive thinking and innovation that it used to establish the longest running municipal recycling facility in the country. The RDF started its program with a few glass jars and a determined group of environmentally minded residents. From its modest start to a program that is now state-of-the art, recycling has become a daily habit for so many citizens and a key money-maker for the Town.
According to Town archives, in late 1970 resident Martha Stone thought of the idea to start glass recycling in Wellesley after reading about a similar program in California. Stone, fellow resident Roselyn Coleman, and a few others founded a group called Action for Ecology to brainstorm ways to improve the local ecology. Members settled on the idea of collecting glass bottles, jars, and other containers and taking them to a nearby Coca-Cola plant where they would be paid a small fee. The group persuaded Wellesley’s then dump supervisor Everett Kennedy to set aside a small area where residents could bring their glass items. The new program was advertised in The Wellesley Townsman and kicked off on February 11, 1971.
Recycling has come a long way since those first glass products 50 years ago. In 2020, Wellesley recycled 418 tons of glass alone. In the half-century since the program began, those initial small fees paid to the Town have grown to more than $10 million in total revenue.
To mark the golden anniversary of Wellesley recycling and kick off the next set of innovations, the RDF has rolled out several new initiatives to expand its impact including a robust food recycling program and a recycling app to make the Town’s recycling program even more transparent and accessible.