MassRecycle received an exceptional group of nominees this year. We are proud to share the efforts and accomplishments of municipalities, individuals, institutions, public servants, and businesses across the Commonwealth.  The nominations below tell stories of people that go the extra mile every day.  MassRecycle is proud to honor the champions of waste world sustainability.

Please join us in a round of applause for this year’s awardees and all nominees.

Small Transfer Station- Open Less Than Three Days a Week

Winner: Ruth Kaminski

Organization: Leicester Recycling Center

Ruth Kaminski is one of the founding members of the Leicester Recycling Center, which has been in operation since February 1991. The center is an all-volunteer organization with up to 40 volunteers at any given time; it always has been and continues to be financially self-sufficient. Residents pay a nominal fee to purchase a vehicle tag. On average, the center sells 500 stickers each year to town residents, businesses, and “out-of-towners” who have limited recycling options in their own areas. In addition to selling vehicle tags, Ruth actively seeks grants to supplement the income needed to run the center.

Thirty years ago when the local landfill was scheduled for closure, Ruth and a group of Leicester residents researched the issue and decided to open a recycling center, citing two reasons. First, the newly enacted Solid Waste Act required communities to recycle certain items. Per these regulations, tires were recycled in the first year, metal items in the second year, and paper in the third year. Secondly, for the first time in history, citizens had to pay for trash removal by private subscription. Ruth and her team wanted to reduce overall trash removal costs for town residents by offering recycling as an alternative. An additional benefit arose for local mom-and-pop trash businesses as they were able to keep prices down and compete with the larger trash removal companies.

In the beginning, the recycling crew would meet at the landfill site with sports teams, individuals from halfway houses, and Leicester residents to organize town-wide clean-ups. Those efforts resulted in tons of roadside trash being recycled. Later on, Ruth applied for and received grants to purchase equipment. They started by recycling items for town departments and processed all hazardous waste at no cost to the town.

The center paid for hazardous waste training for its own volunteers. Over time, Ruth’s dedication and hard work have led to a very robust recycling operation. The variety of items recycled by this program is beyond compare, and Leicester is often used as a model by other towns when they are opening their own recycling programs.

In addition to regular recycling, the center also conducts special events. For example, Leicester recently held its second Leicester Rain Barrel effort to help residents find alternative solutions during water restriction periods. This event was based on the Great American Rain Barrel program. The center also works with groups such as the Leicester Police Department to sponsor prescription drug take-back days. To protect sensitive information found on prescription drug containers and hard drives, the center follows all protocols required by law.

The volunteers who work at the Recycling Center come from a variety of sources. Many citizens of the town of Leicester work regular shifts at the center, and groups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts participate intermittently. In addition, Ruth recruits volunteers from outside groups. For example, she has recruited volunteers from Hope House, an organization that offers substance abuse treatment while also providing emergency housing to clients in need. Another connection is a group known as More Than Words, a job training and youth development program for vulnerable young adults who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school. Ruth also has contact with the court system, which provides individuals logging mandatory community service hours.

Nominee: Michael Mallet

Organization: Town of Athol Recycling Center

Since starting employment here in Athol 1 year ago, Mike has transformed the recycling center I transfer station into an efficient and streamlined operation.

He has worked to remove an old bus that was used as an office with mold and no wash/bathroom facility with a new office trailer complete with bathroom and breakroom. Mike has made major changes to the vehicle patterns to make then safer for recyclers accessing the compacters.

Mike has planned and completed upgrades for the scale with an outside readout and a modernized ticket system.

Mike has replaced several hundred feet of fencing and planted trees to increase greenspace and look more professional at the entrance.

Mike has updated all the signage to make bins easily identifiable and waste bans clear to the users

Mike has worked with the staff to update the software from a local server to cloud based allowing two staff members to work on the same spread sheets at once with updates in real time.

Mike has started to bring the facility into OSHA compliance with the addition of proper ladders, safety devices, hiviz clothing, etc.

Mike has added a whole new level of professionalism to the facility and helps many members of the community daily. He has taken a facility with declining usership and actually brought people back, all while smiling and keeping the residents, environment and staff as top priorities.

Nominee: Nicholas Parlee

Organization: Town of Winchester Transfer Station

Nick Parlee utilized the Winchester Transfer Station’s leaf and yard waste collected over the course of two years to create a usable compost product. The diverted material was screened into finished compost after the 18 month process from waste to compost and available for residents to help themselves when they visit the transfer station. Nick’s efforts diverted 2,400 cubic yards of organic material from landfill in 2021.

Nominee: Ray Stone (Supervisor) and Audericio Avelar Burros (Attendant)

Organization: Town of Wendell Recycling and Transfer Station

The Wendell Recycling and Transfer Station (WRATS) is small but mighty. Open (almost) two full-days a week, they offer more than other transfer stations and they do it with minimal staff hours, infrastructure, facilities, and resources. The facility is not much more than a small gatehouse, land for dumpsters, and a building for the Free Store, but they make it work while going the extra mile.

The Transfer Station is home to the Wendell Free Store, which offers a generous selection of toys, games, household goods, etc. Swap Shops are not unique among Transfer Stations, but this one is very large, well organized, has everything you need and nothing you don’t. It is clearly well managed and well attended. WRATS goes above and beyond to offer programs that divert waste, decrease litter, and serve the particular needs of their community. Wendell is a small town (population 924 as of 2020) with a small tax base. In the 14 hours a week that Ray Stone and Audericio Avelar Burros are managing The Free Store, PAYT disposal, at least six hazardous waste days a year, and somehow always being available to help visitors, they also find time to institute and offer a Food and Paper Waste Compost Program, subsidized back yard compost bins, and a Pay-As-YouThrow bag lottery. The latter is a program wherein any resident can be entered into a drawing for a roll of PAYT bags by bringing a 1 0+ gallon bag of roadside litter to the transfer station.

The staff at WRATS do not have to go above and beyond, but they do.

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Municipal

Winner: Superintendent Gregory M. St. Louis

Organization: The City of Watertown, Department of Public Works

As superintendent of Watertown’s Public Works Department, Gregory St. Louis has been leading the charge in moving The City of Watertown towards achieving the goal of 30% reduction in materials ending up in solid waste disposal.  Food waste and organic materials currently make up a large percentage of Watertown’s waste stream.  St. Louis recognized that there were already 600 residents in Watertown that were paying for private curbside collection, indicating a high level of commitment by the community. The focus on completely subsidizing the cost of curbside collection removes the financial barrier for individuals and increases the likelihood for participation.

Financial support is especially important for Watertown, as it is one of the 47 municipalities MassDEP identifies as meeting the Environmental Justice Population definition. The budget for this program is funded within the DPW’s annual budget and went into effect July 1st, 2022. This is an opt- in model that allows residents to self-select to participate. Opt-in models allow a program to scale up, starting with early adopters who will help promote and educate future participants. If Watertown achieves 4,000 resident sign ups, the weekly tonnage diverted would be 20 tons/week, which accounts for a 33% diversion rate from Watertown’s established baseline. As of July 13th, 2022, there are 1,413 Watertown households currently enrolled in the program, nearly 95% of the Fiscal Year 1 goal.

St. Louis made the intentional decision to partner with Black Earth Compost for their ability to include the most residents and because the food scraps collected would be processed into finished compost that could then be provided back to residents, helping to increase food security while decreasing food waste. 

The program that St. Louis has implemented for The City of Watertown is already becoming a model and inspiration for surrounding municipalities. Neighboring cities and towns have reached out to learn about how this program was designed, funded, and implemented so that they can push for similar programs. 

Nominee: Jessica Camarena

Organization: City of New Bedford

Jessica Camarena brings unexpected patience and dedication to her work as Waste Reduction Enforcement Coordinator (WREC) for the City of New Bedford.

As Waste Reduction Enforcement Coordinator, she could inspect bins, issue citations, and move on, but she goes the extra mile. She works with residents through education and guidance rather than punishment. Leveraging her bilingual skills, she works tactfully with property owners, property managers, and residents across the city, to verify adequate recycling capacity. She demonstrates exceptional patience and diligence in her work. Her efforts make a long-lasting difference in each household she works with, creating a culture of recycling and waste diversion. Her efforts help to divert waste and extend the life of the Crapo Hill Landfill; a facility upon which the region relies.

Nominee: Wellfleet Recycling Committee

Nominee Organization: Wellfleet Recycling Committee

The Wellfleet Recycling Committee is comprised of an extraordinary group of volunteers who have been responsible for a range of public programs, initiatives, and local laws that steward the environment and inspiring sustainable practices on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I started working with the Recycling Committee, as Outreach Coordinator for Wellfleet Public Library in 2016. During that time, we coordinated an annual Fixit Clinic where community members brought their broken items to the library to be guided by a fixing expert to hopefully repair their stuff, monthly Boomerang Bag sewing bees where participants sewed reusable bags out of discarded textiles that were then given to local nonprofits such as Helping Our Women for free, we created a zero waste PSA that demonstrated ways to reduce waste, and promoted a number of their other local initiatives. This included their community cutlery program, where folks can borrow cutlery, reusable napkins, composting bins, and other items rather than use disposable ones at large events. I even used the cutlery at my wedding! 

The Committee is responsible for the town’s Commercial Plastic Water Bottle Ban, Balloon Reduction Bylaw, Municipal Plastic Bottle Reduction Policy, Polystyrene Reduction Bylaw, and Plastic Bag Ban. 

The Recycling Committee has coordinated the volunteers, resources, and logistics for local large-scale events such as Oysterfest and different road races, to go plastic free. These events can attract thousands of people. They have helped implement refill stations and promoted investment in our public infrastructure. They are constantly putting out PSAs and information about how folks can best recycle, compost, and leading initiatives to promote sustainability in the community. The fact that the Recycling is a small group, and has managed to have such a monumental impact, is nothing short of extraordinary. These examples are just some of their ongoing work. While I no longer work at Wellfleet Public Library, or get to coordinate initiatives with the Wellfleet Recycling Committee, the impact this group has had on my life, the community, and our local environment has been life-affirming and an example of what truly compassionate, dynamic leadership looks like. I want to express how grateful I am for who they are and all they do!

Nominee: Andrea Scarfo

Organization: City of Boston

Andrea was brought on to be the Outreach and Communications Coordinator for our zero waste program, and has exceeded expectations. She has streamlined all our branding, revamped our website, our Trash Day app, and created numerous outreach materials including giveaways to better promote our programs. She has created new partnerships and piloted our farmer market program that has added 5 more drop-off sites for food waste in Boston. She has also launched an outdoor advertising campaign highlighting recycling both on Boston buses and billboards. She has increased our outreach efforts ten fold by bringing a presence to community meetings and Coffee hours in Boston Parks. She did this all in under 6 months. She truly is a star employee and deserves recognition.

Nominee: Lenny Federico

Organization: Town of Wellfleet Transfer Station

Lenny has been working the summers at the Wellfleet Transfer Station for 10 years. In that time he has endeared himself to the people coming to recycle and has become a bit of a celebrity. Using charm and wit, he entertains and educates as he monitors the recycling area. He has been an essential part of our efforts to reduce contamination by having conversations with people and staying up to date with how our materials are handled. 

He has been interviewed about his experiences at the transfer station by the WOMR radio station and the Provincetown Independent, gaining the nickname, “The Friendly Guy”. He also has an eagle eye for non-recyclable items being thrown into the machines. Lenny’s front line efforts over the last decade are worthy of recognition.

Nominee: Vithal Despande

Organization: City of Somerville

Vithal Despande has done a lot to improve waste in Somerville. He has launched textiles and mattress recycling in the last 3 years; mattress launched a few months ago and he got some great press on it. He’s been dedicated to improving recycling for many years (more than I know!) and is always an advocate for improving recycling. 

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Individual

Winner: Jason Johnson

Organization: WIN Waste Innovations

Jason Johnson has worked in just about every role at WIN Waste’s C&D recycling facility and transfer station in Taunton, Massachusetts. He started at the age of 18 as a laborer doing site work; today he is the site’s Operations Manager, overseeing a team of 25 permanent and temporary employees who receive, recycle, and recover about 140,000 tons of C&D waste each year.

In 2021, Jason and his team achieved a 27 percent material recovery rate — far above the Commonwealth’s 15 percent minimum. WIN Waste Director of Operations, Anthony Spitalieri, says Jason’s innovative approach to wood and vinyl recovery is a key to this remarkable number.

At Taunton, the team grinds the wood picked from C&D open tops then runs it through a second trommel, distilling it into grains, called “fines,” that are light and — more importantly — absorbent. The fines are in demand by environmental remediation groups, which use them for spill cleanups. Jason makes sure they get into the hands of these groups and that his team is producing enough to meet the demand. 

Jason also runs five balers at Taunton because of what he describes as a “huge” market for vinyl and mixed rigid plastics in bale form. He sources buyers and resells the bales to product makers that give the recycled materials new life in everyday goods and applications. During a recent 22-day period, Jason’s team baled 45 tons of vinyl, 20 tons of mixed rigid plastics, and 418 tons of absorbent wood fines.  

Spitalieri said in his nomination, “We’re extremely proud of Jason’s high recovery rates because it means we’re finding more sustainable paths for products that would otherwise go to a landfill.”

Nominee: Diane Jones

Organization: Tipping Point Shrewsbury

Diane Jones started off in 2019 as a woman with a sign, going out every Friday to stand on her Town Common in Shrewsbury to face traffic. Her sign said, “Honk for Climate Action”. Most times, she was alone. Very few people honked. Often people jeered or yelled rude things. Occasionally someone else with a sign came to stand with her or a group would stay for a while. Diane showed up weekly, for months. 

Then COVID hit, and the world changed. People started walking, and getting outdoors more. A few people joined her. People stopped yelling so much, and started honking at her sign. She added another sign: “Vote for Climate Action”. People joined her, and a group was formed: Tipping Point Shrewsbury (01545).

Diane started writing an outline for a climate action plan, researching it on the internet and eventually getting help from Ken Pruitt of Winchester. She led her group to present before all the town officials and committees: Finance, Board of Health, Select Board, Town Meeting, and the Town Manager. In the end, she successfully pushed them to declare a Climate Emergency. Diane and Tipping Point have convinced the Town to commit to hiring a person to write an official Climate Action Plan for Shrewsbury.

Many of us in the waste world focus on getting recycling to happen in our towns, and just getting that going is a heavy lift sometimes. A climate action plan includes a comprehensive approach to avoidance, reduction, and recycling on a myriad of fronts, including transportation, renewable resources, building efficiency, sustainable forestry, and of course … sustainability in solid waste.

Diane is the hero we all need to hear about. The lone figure with a signboard who won over her town with the strength of her convictions … and led an entire town to reduce, divert, renew, and change their ways.

Nominee: Justin Moseley

Organization: Recycleworks, Inc

Justin Mosely has tirelessly helped his clients to divert unwanted food and beverage from the landfill to its highest and best use.

Justin Moseley’s unwavering commitment to organic waste recycling and reuse is unmatched in The United States.

In 2021 alone, Justin diverted well over 85,000 tons of food and beverage waste from the landfill. Justin works with clients to develop and implement large-scale zero-waste initiatives.

Some marque projects include –

Large Soup Manufacturer in MA – Comprehensive Zero-Waste program. From manufacturing output to plastics recycling, Justin has worked handin-hand with his client to implement a recycling system. Justin designed and oversaw the installation of state-of-the-art, liquid tight systems to handle organic waste.

Food Manufacturer in MA – Justin spearheaded a major organic waste upcycling program with a large manufacturer in MA to divert their unwanted organics to the highest and best use.

Major Grocery Chain – Packaged Food Upcycling program – Justin worked with a major grocery Chain in MA to implement a packaged food program at all of their locations throughout the state.

Nominee: Michael Orbank

Organization: STO Building Group

Michael Orbank- Sustainability Manager for the Northeast Region at STO Building Group, has been working in the environmental field since 2014. Although this might not seem like a long time, Michael has made every year count. Determined to improve construction and demolition (C&D) recycling and deconstruction within and beyond the projects he works on with STO, Michael has fostered a strong network of collaborators. This community allows designers, architects, general contractors, and others to support one another and get more involved in the C&D recycling and reuse community.

Michael has had several non-profit reuse outlets walk through his ongoing projects and evaluate what building materials they can recover from those and future projects.

Michael understands that having time and a plan for recovery built into projects can lead to success.

In addition to finding creative solutions and outlets for difficult to recycle or reuse materials, Michael has tackled an even bigger challenge: training and reinforcing new habits that ensure on site staff place materials in the right bins, so they can ultimately be recycled or reused correctly. Michael raised this issue during his collaboration with Recycling Works in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks), and an instructional case study video was born! This video, and the tips Michael shares in it, can be used by other construction firms to train their onsite staff, a key piece of getting C&D and building materials diverted from a project. 

Since 2020, Michael has been the co-chair of the Boston Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF), where he organizes informative presentations about deconstruction efforts across the country to encourage change in Massachusetts. However, Michael is also realistic when it comes to the challenges of the everchanging market of recycling C&D materials, including the capacity for transporting, storing, and relocating building materials in our area. Michael convenes the group of professionals in the CLF to address these issues, create a roadmap for solutions, and support one another.

Nominee: Amanda Wolfe

Organization: New Life Furniture Bank of MA

Last year, New Life save over 202 tons (1 ,828 cu yds) of household goods and furniture from the landfill. Already this year, New Life has saved 177 tons (1 ,602 cu yds) an overall increase from the previous year.

The increase is from new partnerships coordinated by Amanda such as junk haulers, clean out specialists and store returns. All of these items would have gone in the trash, but instead went to families transitioning out of homelessness.

Amanda has been instrumental in developing new drop off locations with transfer stations. Allowing residents a convenient place to donate, even if the original plan was to throw the piece in the dumpster. A pilot that has been so successful, Amanda is looking to expand it to two more transfer stations.

In addition to expanding the over 1 0,000 pieces that come through our warehouse, Amanda has ensured items that are not up to our quality standard or are not right for our clients find a new home with other local charities or repaired. For an organization that deals with unwanted items, we produce very little waste.

Nominee: Jennifer Gendreau

I have been converting clean discarded plastic bags into plarn (plastic yarn) and crochet reusable tote bags and collection holders for consumers for almost 3 years since COVID19 shut down. I am currently focused on local stores and limited community members for changing their habits of throwing away clean bags that aren’t going to be used. My mission is to provide an alternate use for the bags, rather than ending in the trash by means of convenience.

Nominee: Wendy Millar Page

Organization: Town of Winthrop

Wendy Millar is the Solid Waste & Recycling Manager for the Town of Winthrop. I first met Wendy at the networking time during the conference and I was immediately drawn to her positive attitude and herself proclaimed title of Trash Wendy. She comes from the world of non-profit and has brought her love of helping people into her new role. She is the only female manager at the DPW. Together, we have been able to increase collections of residential clothing diversions by 15% since our partnership was created. She has put newspaper articles about textile recycling, she has put information about our programs on social media and has been a true advocate of recycling. She has also used her artistic abilities to share recycling with her community with up-to-date graphics. She truly cares about the environment, the residents of her town and the people she works with. I went to go tour the town with her and everyone knew her, every place she went.

She greeted everyone with a smile and a happy good morning. Her networking ability is fantastic. I feel lucky to have met her at the conference and look forward to what she is able to accomplish in her community. Her passion is infectious, and we need more people like her in our industry.

Nominee: Nancy Gilberg

Organization: Salem Recycles

Nancy has been a tireless volunteer for Salem Recycles and pretty much single-handedly built SR’s social media presence. She has spearheaded efforts to bring Styrofoam events to the City, as well as being a collaborative leader in e-waste and zero waste events. Nancy’s is also a member of SAFE (Salem Alliance for the Environment) and Friends of Salem Woods.

Nominee: Taylor Millspaugh

Organization: CMRK New England

Taylor only recently joined the team at CMRK. In this short time she has worked tirelessly to prepare municipalities for the effects of the TEXTILE Waste Ban. She has toured multiple muni sites to ensure they would be well equipped for Textile diversion activities -She even organized a tour of the CMRK warehouse in Northborough!

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Institution/University

Nominee: Dave Purington and Deerfield Academy Facilities

In 2016, the Franklin County Solid Waste District received grant funding from DEP to work with several area private schools, including Deerfield Academy (DA), to expand composting on campus. DA already had a robust 80/20 waste management campaign: 80% diversion/20% landfill. 

DA had implemented a robust waste diversion program for a wide variety of items from the dorms: CFLs, wire hangers (from laundry service), batteries, electronics, printer cartridges, pizza boxes, plastic bags, and rigid Styrofoam.

Meals are served on ceramic plates with silverware. There are not trays, no individually packaged products, and compostable serviceware is used at special events. All products in their two cafes are also certified compostable.

The Solid Waste District worked with Dave Purington, Environmental Management Coordinator, to add small compost pails to classrooms and to add containers in every bathroom to collect paper towels for composting. These waste management components are now institutionalized.

In 2016, the District and Dave worked to design a system to collect unopened food and personal care

products from students at the end of the year. This program was implemented using cardboard boxes with signs indicating what can and can’t go into the collection box for donation to the Survival Center Food Pantry in Turners Falls. This program has been consistently sending 500-700 lbs of food and personal care products to the food pantry each year. Previously, these items went into the trash.

In addition, usable items left behind by students are collected, sorted in the hockey rink and then a community tag sale is held. The proceeds are donated to a different organization each year.

In 2022, Dave implemented a pilot program to collect food waste from 15 faculty apartments and houses. If the pilot is successful, then the program will be expanded to about 180 faculty residences.

Dave Purington’s investment in maintaining and growing DA’s waste management program is impressive. He continues to look at areas for improvement or for adding diversion programs. The DA Facilities staff implement his vision and are the boots on the ground that make each aspect of DA’s program successful and sustainable. Each time I go to DA and see their system in the dorms, bathrooms, cafeteria, and buildings I am truly amazed. The DA waste management/waste diversion program is exemplary.

Nominee: Mary Fischer

Organization: Brandeis University

Like so many universities, Brandeis University has leaned into sustainability, but what I found particularly impressive is the culture of opportunity for students to engage on so many levels.

  • Grant -based research to work on topics like recycling medical plastic and creating enzymes that digest plastic waste.
  • Move in/Move out diversion of textiles, books and home goods, and messaging about reusable packaging. 
  • Piloting Organic Herbicides
  • Brandeis joined the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN)
  • A game called “saving Ohno” in which students take virtual actions to save their virtual grandchild from the effects of climate change.
  • Giving students the opportunity to help get out the climate vote by being part of a phone bank.
  • Green Room certifications for residence halls, winning reusable cutlery sets.

What struck me most was an Eco-Anxiety Support Group started by their counseling center, which grew into a system in which the students were matched with short non-credit courses that educated them about the topics they had the biggest concerns about.

Brandeis University has all the usual staples of a school that is reducing, reusing, and recycling, but it engages its students in a way that really makes them think more about the future, and their part of it. 

Nominee: Sakiko lsomichi

Organization: Harvard University

Sakiko launched a series of Waste Talks over the 2020-2021 academic year that invited solid waste experts from both the public and private sectors to speak to members of the Harvard University community and anyone else interested. Sakiko’s friendly, but persistent questions elicited responses that shed light on the many factors influencing waste management policy in Massachusetts today. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and others signed up to hear Sakiko’s Friday morning interviews. Several guests and registrants have said that this series was the best collection of presentations on the state of waste management in Massachusetts they have ever heard.

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Business

Winner: Johnny’s Luncheonette

Johnny’s Luncheonette has been adored by residents of Newton for 25 years. When the current owners took over in 2013, they expanded the restaurant’s sustainability standards and included locally sourced ingredients. As a restaurant generating approximately one half-ton of food waste per week, Johnny’s Luncheonette is an example for other businesses and institutions subject to the organic waste ban that are seeking alternative ways to manage their food waste.

The restaurant’s thoughtful approach to their menu is not limited to their preparation and ingredients, but also encompasses responsible waste management. Johnny’s Luncheonette separates out pre- and postconsumer food scraps for composting and boasts a long-standing recycling program that is built into their employee training plan. 

They enthusiastically work wasted food diversion and recycling into their many priorities. They use Black Earth’s Compost in their outdoor dining planters. Signage on the planters links to Black Earth’s website, revealing to guests the connection between their plates’ food scraps and the nutrients that feed the flowers beside them.

Along with supporting nearby farms and composters, the diner works with local organizations to develop coloring book-style activity placemats to increase consumer knowledge of sustainability, recycling, organic waste diversion, and food systems, all of which provoke diners to think about how food arrives on their plate and where their leftovers end up. One placemat features a dynamic array of materials and asks whether each belongs in the recycling, compost, or trash. Another delves into the process of composting, demonstrating compost recipes while highlighting the role microorganisms play in breaking down organic contents.

In addition to harboring community knowledge and resources, Johnny’s Luncheonette aims to have a green influence on other businesses in the area by acting as an example and demonstrating consumer interest. This is just one more way that Johnny’s Luncheonette uses its experience with composting and recycling to reach beyond its internal operations, making waste diversion a communal effort and learning process.

Nominee: Helpsy

Helpsy, a Certified B Corp, is on a mission to radically change the way people think about, dispose of, and buy second hand clothing in a world where more than 85% of clothes end up in the trash. Through our integrated businesses -Helpsy Shop, Helpsy Collect, and Helpsy Source- Helpsy works to reuse, resell, and repurpose the clothing it collects. Overall, Helpsy serves approximately 45 million people through our collection efforts utilizing bins, home pickups, and community clothing drive events. Helpsy serves over 6 million people in Massachusetts alone.

Currently, Helpsy works with 14 Massachusetts municipalities, performing weekly home pick ups for textiles, as well as servicing over 130 textile collection bins and operating community clothing drives. Through these combined efforts Helpsy collects and diverts over 4 million pounds of textiles from the landfills in Massachusetts, every year. 

Clothing collected in Helpsy bins, via municipal partners, home pick ups and clothing drives is first sorted by Helpsy Collect’s staff, our many partners and divided into grades. The higher grades are resold to thrift stores and eCommerce reseller’s via Helpsy Source, a sustainable wholesale resource fore-commerce sellers, or directly to consumers via Helpsy Shop. The lower grade clothing is repurposed into things such as industrial rags, stuffing, and insulation.

Helpsy’s integrated clothing collections amount to 29 million pounds of clothes collected in the last year alone; this equates to 560 million pounds of COz emissions and 14 billion gallons of water that would have been used in new clothing production. We also take great pride in the environmental efforts made at our warehouses, as well as with our logistics planning. All of the plastic rolling carts and cardboard products that Helpsy uses are made from recycled materials; our warehouses have renewable energy systems in place, in addition to onsite recyclable programs for paper, glass, and aluminum; all of our driving routes are designed to minimize fuel usage and to reduce C02 emissions.

Helpsy is honored to have been named a Real Leaders 2022 Eco Innovation Award winner, proudly sharing the stage with other innovative companies. Helpsy was ranked in the top 50 amongst companies who have a vision of making a positive impact on our environment while aligning themselves with proven responsibility for growth. 

Helpsy is committed to giving back to the communities that we serve. In addition to our mission of innovation and environmental impact, we work with and support nonprofit organizations such as: Big Brother Big Sister in NY and CT, DARE, RARA, AMVETS, and ACLD. Helpsy has paid over $10 million to landlords and charities, while providing clothing to community partners when needed. In 2022, we are working toward our goal of providing 100,000 coats this winter to the under-served communities in which we work; we are inspired to grow that effort as our company continues to grow. Helpsy is proud to offer fair, living wages to all of our employees; every employee is given stock options and every employee has affordable healthcare available to them. Additionally, we make great efforts to be a second chance employer; reentry is challenging enough and finding honorable living wage work shouldn’t be another obstacle.

Nominee: Vanguard Renewables

Vanguard Renewables is a national leader in the development of food and dairy waste-to-renewable energyprojects. The company combines food waste and manure inside farm-based anaerobic digesters to produce renewable energy. Anaerobic digesters are large, sealed tanks that capture the biogas from the digestion of that organic waste by microbes inherent in cow manure. The biogas is then converted into renewable natural gas or renewable electricity. 

Since 2014, Vanguard Renewables has recycled more than 600,000 tons of food waste and just under 250,000 tons of manure. The company has mitigated emissions equivalent to over 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is comparable to taking more than 108,000 cars off the road for a year. Vanguard Renewables has also generated over 85,000 MWh of renewable electricity, enough to power more than 7,100 homes. Simultaneously, the company has generated more than 94,000 MMBTU of RNG which is equivalent to fueling 273 buses for one year. The company has also produced enough liquid fertilizer to sustainably fertilize more than 30,000 farm acres at Vanguard’s codigestion sites alone; And, the company’s manure-only facilities will also have significant methane emission mitigation impacts.

All of the progress would not be possible without Vanguard Renewables’ feedstock providers and farm partners. Securing feedstock suppliers is crucial to ensuring customer retention in the food waste space and encouraging companies to engage in decarbonizing their operations. Chuck Marble, Founder of New England Natural Bakers, a granola manufacturer producing organic food in Greenfield, Massachusetts, is setting an example for the food industry to take a stand to mitigate the emissions from their unavoidable waste. The excess waste from their facility goes to a Farm Powered anaerobic digester where it gets recycled into renewable energy and organic fertilizer. Vanguard’s feedstock providers receive a circular path to food waste reduction and repurposing, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and decarbonization of manufacturing and supply chain operations.

Vanguard Renewables is forward thinking. The company’s anaerobic digester technology provides a platform for the future of food and beverage waste management. In the United States, 40% of all food produced is discarded. 63.31 million tons of food waste were generated in 2018. That means 55.9% of food waste ends up in landfills. In the shift to divert organic waste from landfills and incineration, Vanguard Renewables’ anaerobic digestion and organics recycling facilities provide an innovative solution to a national food waste problem while displacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. 

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Public Servant

Winner: Mayor Ruthanne Fuller

Organization: City of Newton

MassPSC is nominating Ruthanne Fuller, the Mayor of the City of Newton, for her demonstrated leadership in advancing extended producer responsibility in the Commonwealth. During the 2021 20221egislative session Mayor Fuller testified in favor of extended producer responsibility bills for paint, mattresses, packaging and paper products, and the expanded bottle bill. Mayor Fuller prioritized providing verbal testimony amid her busy schedule because these bills are highly advantageous to municipalities and taxpayers. We are grateful to Mayor Fuller for being the only mayor or city manager to testify on behalf of EPR at the Massachusetts Legislature’s June 2021 hearing. Her leadership has also been instrumental in sustaining Newton’s strong programs in curbside recycling collection, clothing drives, reuse, and drop-off center. Mayor Fuller has also worked closely with Green Newton to promote clean recycling and reduced contamination, which has helped Newton deliver cleaner recyclables to its collection vendors. 

Nominee: Chad Contonio

Organization: Town of Dennis Transfer Station

Chad operates one of the finest Transfer Stations on Cape Cod. He also allows his site to be used as a regional drop off point for Boat Shrink Wrap, Food Waste, Glass, and Latex Paint.  The central location and size of the Dennis Transfer Station creates an opportunity for smaller towns farther out on the cape to participate in these programs.  Many vendors will not come out to places like Wellfleet for small quantities of recyclable items.  Combining materials from multiple towns in one place provides the scale necessary to make these programs happen for our residents, and Chad is always first to volunteer.

Nominee: Marissa Perez-Dormitzer

Organization: Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District

Marissa Perez-Dormitzer has dedicated her career to more sustainable waste management through education. In a story for South Coast Today, she was referred to as a “Recycling Crusader”, and her career backs up the claim.

Marissa has served as the Waste Reduction Manager for the Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District for 22 years. In this role, she served the communities of New Bedford and Dartmouth by educating the public about recycling and solid waster, implementing new programs, and applying for and managing grants. Her efforts have made played a major role in diverting waste and extending the life of the Crapo Hill Landfill; a facility upon which the region relies.

She has instituted creative programs such as a Win Products and Reduce Waste giveaway that introduces residents to reusable or minimally packaged household goods, and works with enforcement to educate residents about recycling, ensure that they have the resources to recycle, and use enforcement only as a final measure.

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Lifetime Commitment

Kathleen Casey

Organization: Hilltown Resource Management Cooperative

Kathleen has been responsible for coordination of all recycling efforts between our 5 towns for many years. She has been instrumental to not only Goshen but the other towns in our district. She is retiring this year and I can’t think of a better way to send her off for all of the hard work she has done over the years. Please consider her for this honor.

Lynn Rubinstein

Organization: Northeast Recycling Council (NERC)

Write up pending

Terri Goldberg

Organization: Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEMOWA)

Write up pending

Bruce Gellerman

Organization: WBUR

Write up pending

Daniel Moon

Organization: Environmental Business Council of New England

Write up pending

Kerry Weaver

Organization: Town of Lexington

Write up pending

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