Patricia Neary Bridgewater Tree Committee, Bridgewater Green Committee, NAFT, BIA

Pat Neary is a tireless advocate for nature, addressing issues from litter and pollution to the preservation of our natural world. She is not just a force of nature; she is a force for nature. I had the privilege of working closely with Pat when we co-founded the “Bridgewater Green Committee” to promote sustainable living in our community.  Pat’s determination led us to public events like the 4th of July parade, where we made a memorable statement with plastic bags on our heads and a prominent banner. We also engaged with the community at the local farmers’ market and gained traction on social media.

Pat’s networking prowess was pivotal. She secured a table at FallFest, enabling us to connect with diverse individuals and organizations, championing causes like an expanded bottle bill and styrofoam elimination. Pat orchestrated “Bag It” documentary screenings at the Bridgewater Public Library, even bringing the film’s costume to life, leaving a lasting impact on library-goers. Despite challenges, Pat’s determination remained unwavering. She organized meetings with advocates from towns that successfully banned plastic bags, fostering collaboration and resolve. After nearly five years of relentless effort, we achieved a majority vote to ban plastic bags in Bridgewater, largely thanks to Pat’s leadership and unwavering dedication as an environmental champion.

Girl Scout Troop 64918 – Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass.

Parade floats are great ways to celebrate, but many pay a lot for items they throw out right after the parade.   The cadette girls of Troop 64618 were tasked to do a float for the girl scouts. Thinking ahead after a recent “me and my guy” dance, they collected the flower decorations after the event.  The leader that had the truck and float became the location for the decorating and un-decorating. I think the location is key.

All that was spent was on zip ties and safety pins. The only things thrown out were the cut zip ties. Reuse was key and new relationships were formed.  After the parade, the girls were gentle with the items to be stored to be used again. The paper flowers and brown craft paper were collected and brought to the coordinator who runs the indoor project graduation event. For the Graduation Project, they decorate the High School with Around the Word themes and hold activities as an alternative for graduating seniors from organizing drinking parties. The flowers and paper have already had 2 activities and could have 2-5 more. Anew partnership was made that hinges on shared reuse.

Neil Rhein – Keep Massachusetts Beautiful

Neil Rhein, Executive Director of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful (KMB), created the Talking Trash & Recycling program to enhance recycling education without competing with local Recycling Coordinators. This interactive presentation educates residents, employees, and students about waste management in Massachusetts. Neil’s presentations encourage reducing trash generation and improving recycling habits, promoting a more sustainable lifestyle while helping the state meet waste reduction goals. The program lasts 45 minutes, with additional time for questions. Initially targeting local students in Mansfield, Neil expanded the program with a MassDEP grant in 2020. When COVID hit, he transitioned to Zoom presentations. Amidst widespread recycling misinformation, this program is essential. Neil’s commitment to spreading it statewide is commendable for maintaining recycling as a sound waste management option.

Neil has already reached over 1,300 people with the program, disseminating accurate recycling information. Recordings are available to the public, and Neil continues to schedule customized Zoom or in-person presentations. He deserves special recognition for his tireless leadership, initiative, and knowledge-sharing, contributing to recycling, reuse, and waste reduction in Massachusetts.

Sue Higgins – Northeastern University

Sue Higgins, the Director of Materials and Recycling at Northeastern University, manages sustainability initiatives on a vast campus of over 35,000 students and staff. Her work includes data collection to enhance material diversion, expanding residential composting to multiple dorms, launching a battery recycling program with 20 collection bins, and extending plastics recycling efforts beyond bottles and containers, including lab plastics.

Sue’s commitment also extends to community involvement. She supported Trash2Treasure, a student group diverting useful items during Move In/Move Out, and successfully added foam mattress toppers to the collection, recycling 660 pounds of foam. She was a member of the Beverly Waste Reduction Committee and played a pivotal role in reviving the “College Collaborative” group in partnership with MassRecycle, advocating for educational institutions’ membership and creating a platform for collaboration, networking, and shared best practices.

Sue’s passion for sustainability and waste reduction, coupled with her dedication to collaboration and mentoring, makes her a catalyst for positive change in her workplace, community, and the recycling community at large.

Fawaz El Khoury – CMRK

Fawaz El Khoury has built a business that not only helps the environment, but also gives back to people. CMRK partners with nonprofits to help them receive unrestricted funding. Through CMRK, and out of his own generosity, Fawz has given back over $25 million dollars to nonprofits. He is not only generous, but a steward of the environment.  He enables municipalities to divert tons of useful materials from their waste; not just clothing but also books and household items. These items are sent to thrift stores in areas that need them. This strategy serves multiple populations and keeps useful goods out of landfills.  He treats all towns the same regardless of size. Every municipality is important to Fawz and he truly sets the tone at CMRK from the top.  He treats others with respect and kindness.

Fawaz does not want recognition but he is one of the most generous people I have ever met. He treats employees like family and truly cares about others. He is an Ellis Island Award recipient; an award given to those who make it their mission to give back to those who are less fortunate. He has employees who have worked for him nearly 30 years. He is as loyal to them as they are to him.  He donates clothing and food to areas struck by disasters without promoting himself or allowing recognition.  He acts with generosity and integrity.

Fawaz is an amazing businessman, boss, mentor, friend and deserves recognition for his impact in Massachusetts.

Nicholas Parlee – Town of Winchester

Nick has managed the Winchester Transfer Station for the last four years, prior to which he served as the Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator / Energy Manager for the Town of Chelmsford.  Nick has made significant contributions to the Town of Winchester’s Transfer Station. Serving about 5,000 households, he updated the composting program, improved diversion rates, and expanded recycling streams, including food waste processing, textiles, and waste ban items.

In 2020 – 2021, Nick led an effort to enhance the facility, addressing operational deficiencies and layout issues, resulting in a $6.5 million improvement project. Despite construction challenges, he maintained uninterrupted service. Nick collaborated on a new facility layout for increased safety, added recycling compactors, and created space for commercial recycling drop-off operations. The project also featured a new staff building, stormwater improvements, and additional storage areas. Nick’s leadership and commitment have been instrumental in improving the Transfer Station, ensuring its efficiency, safety, and sustainability for Winchester.

Laurel Hanke – Newburyport City Hall

Laurel Hanke has devoted nine years to the Newburyport Recycling, Sustainability, and Energy Department, consistently demonstrating trustworthiness, adaptability, a strong work ethic, and remarkable patience. Her ability to assist residents with recycling-related inquiries and concerns leaves them at ease, fostering open communication for further questions and waste reduction concerns.

Ms. Hanke’s role as a supervisor at the Colby Farm Lane Recycling Center is especially commendable. She oversaw a program that provided job opportunities for individuals with disabilities, empowering them with valuable skills and work experience. Over the years, these young adults have grown, taking on more responsibility at the Recycling Center, thanks to Laurel’s mentorship. Under her guidance, they have honed essential social and professional skills.

The Recycling Center’s ongoing success, which benefits both residents and businesses in Newburyport, is a testament to Laurel’s dedication and exceptional leadership.

Gary Bernhard – Shutesbury Recycling & Solid Waste Committee

Gary Bernhard, a dedicated volunteer, has been an integral part of the Shutesbury Recycling and Solid Waste Committee (RSWC) since 1989, a year after its formation. He has served as the Recycling Coordinator for over twelve years, despite the small stipend that doesn’t cover the substantial time and effort he invests. Under Gary’s leadership, the RSWC has achieved multiple milestones including a town-wide recycling program, which evolved into curbside pickup of recyclables, and implementing Pay As You Throw, which resulted in consistently high recycling rates. Gary secured grants, notably one for solid waste hauler contract preparation. He also obtained funding for recycling bins, compost bins, educational literature, and more, including the Recycling Almanac (now digital).

Gary’s contributions extend to organizing Bulky Waste Collection days and negotiating access to the Leverett Transfer Station, benefitting both Shutesbury and Leverett residents. He facilitated composting workshops, educational events, and addressed resident complaints on collection days. His dedication shines through his Trash Talk newsletter column, focusing on critical topics like recycling symbols on plastics. In response to bans, he introduced a textile bin and arranged mattress disposal solutions in neighboring towns. The breadth and extent of hard work, leadership and creative problem solving that Gary has provided over decades makes him an ideal candidate for this MassRecycle Individual award.

Patrick Conaway – Keep Natick Beautiful, Big Heart Little FeetBig Heart Little Feet

Pat Conaway is the founder of Big Heart Little Feet, an organization dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and community involvement. Over the years, he has led over 50 clean-up efforts involving neighbors, youth groups, and volunteers to restore local waterways and trails. Pat’s commitment extends to establishing a Trail Work initiative on Mondays and Wednesdays, engaging more volunteers in trail maintenance and connecting them with larger watershed conservation.

His impact spans across Natick, Framingham, Wayland, and Cochituate State Park, where he has installed trash and recycle bins at key locations. Pat collaborates with high school environmental clubs, involving them in various projects, from clean-ups to rain garden initiatives. He also plays an active role in the Natick Trails Maintenance Committee, focusing on local trail improvement. Pat’s dedication extends beyond local communities. He coordinates the Natick Earth Day Festival Planning Group, serves on the Wayland Green Team, and was nominated for the Mass Recycles “Massachusetts Recycler of the Year Award.” Together with concerned citizens from Wayland, Framingham, Natick, and Ashland, he formed the Lake Cochituate Watershed Council.

For over fifteen years, Pat has run the “Buddy Bins” program in Natick, Framingham, Wayland and possibly other places, he has  organized clean ups all over, bringing groups of kids, involving companies, and other affinity groups. He has also played the Bag Monster at many events and contributed to a real culture change with all age groups.  He is an example of conviction, endurance, and inspiration to all of us!

Tristyn Campbell – Tantasqua Junior High School

Tristyn has been an avid participant in my Recycling Club during his two years at Tantasqua Regional Junior High School. He has shown up every other Tuesday (sometimes more) to circulate across the three floors of our building’s classrooms to remove as much recycling as he can. While our club doesn’t often draw a large number of participants, his consistency helped contribute to building-wide consistency with using recycling bins and reducing waste from our two offices, and over 50 classrooms. Since teachers and office staff knew to expect him, their was less waste being thrown away, and more being recycled.

Matthew DeMarrais – Needham DPW

As the Superintendent of Needham DPW’s Recycling and Solid Waste division, Matt leads by example with his actions day in and day out. He actively engages with residents, discussing recycling and the importance of reducing our carbon footprint. Under his guidance, the Recycling and Transfer Station serves 14,819 households in Needham.

This past year, the station recycled 481 tons of Commingle, 726 tons of Paper, 403 tons of Cardboard, and 326 tons of Single stream. They diverted and recycled 762 tons of scrap metal, 20+ tons of mattresses, 50 tons of textiles, and 60+ tons of electronic waste. Moreover, the station produced over 3,000 tons of organic material, turning it into compost distributed free to residents. Matt’s initiatives have reduced waste and increased recycling in the town. He educates young minds through Boy Scout and Girl Scout tours of the RTS facility and implemented a successful Food Waste diversion program, diverting over 80 tons last year and 150 tons this year.

Matt goes the extra mile: removing contaminants from recycling containers, ensuring the Swap Shop runs efficiently and moving it indoors for better preservation. He actively spreads awareness through local news coverage and participates in the Needham Solid Waste & Recycling Advisory Committee, contributing innovative ideas and recycling practices. Matt’s leadership and dedication to recycling and solid waste make him a deserving nominee for recognition.

Shyan Ong

Shyan Ong, a Wakefield resident and dedicated parent of two elementary school children, launched a composting and food rescue program for school lunches. Initially initiated in 2020 but halted by the pandemic, Shyan resurrected the project in the ’22-’23 school year, partnering with the Wakefield Environmental Sustainability Committee to include two elementary schools: Walton and Greenwood.

Driven by her passion t, Shyan, a non-committee member, implemented a system with three waste disposal options: trash for wrappers, compost for food scraps, and a cooler for unopened food rescue. She created educational signage, provided hands-on guidance during lunch periods, and organized the pickup of rescued food for local Boys & Girls Club afterschool programs. Initially, she handled pickups personally twice a week until recruiting volunteers to assist.

Shyan plans to expand the program to the town’s other two elementary schools in the coming months. Her initiative has diverted around 4,000 pounds of food waste from landfills, composted with Black Earth Compost, and collected 5,000 items for afterschool programs and local food banks.

Rene Wood – Town of Sheffield, MA

Rene Wood, the Town of Sheffield’s dedicated recycling coordinator for four years, has made a significant impact on waste diversion efforts. Raised in a family that valued waste reduction, Rene carried these lessons into her career and retirement, where public service became her focus.

In her tenure as volunteer recycling coordinator, she has:

  • Implemented a bear-proof, transfer station-based food waste diversion program and promoted the sale of countertop containers and bins for home composters.
  • Secured a $19,000 Community Compact Best Practices grant for waste reduction program expansion.
  • Established a textile recovery program, collecting nearly four tons of textiles in the second and third quarters of 2023.
  • Introduced a bulky rigid plastic collection program.
  • Expanded the electronics recycling program to include all electronic devices with cords.
  • Enlarged the battery collection program to accept all battery types, including alkaline batteries.
  • Created a brochure for the transfer station.
  • Enhanced the town’s waste-related webpage with informative content.
  • Conducted outreach at community events, organized a composting workshop, and engaged in tabled activities.
  • Developed marketing materials and signage for the mattress recycling program.

Furthermore, Rene actively contributes to the Berkshire and Western Massachusetts Solid Waste Community by serving on advisory boards, mentoring other communities, and advocating for small-community Hazardous Household Waste event parity.

Rene’s outstanding achievements extend beyond waste reduction, as she has secured over $2.5 million in grants for Sheffield in various areas, demonstrating her remarkable dedication and positive approach.

Nicolette Pocius – John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science

Nicolette Pocius is an exceptional teacher at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. Alongside her role teaching environmental science and advising the Recycling and Environmentalism Club, she wears many hats, including coaching sports and serving as the National Honor Society (NHS) Faculty Advisor and Ski & Snowboard Club Advisor.

Nicolette’s Recycling and Environmentalism Club, active since 2017, boasts 20-30 members. They meet twice weekly to manage recycling totes around the school, collecting roughly 29,184 gallons annually. This dedicated group also educates the school community on recycling. Nicolette collaborated with her students and the Recycling and Environmentalism Club to launch a food waste collection pilot. They conducted a waste audit, diverting 285 pounds of food waste to composting during a week. Since launching on April 3, 2023, the school has diverted over 7,000 pounds of food waste to compost.

Nicolette’s unwavering commitment, extra credit initiatives, and collaboration with students have made her program a model for replication in other BPS schools. She also creates a safe space for her students and deeply cares for their well-being. Nicolette Pocius is a remarkable educator and a deserving nominee for MassRecycle’s Individual Award.

Dr. Tom Irwin

I nominate Dr. Tom Irwin for his exceptional advocacy of paint extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation in Massachusetts. His grassroots approach has sparked transformative change, inspiring citizens and businesses statewide to embrace sustainability. Dr. Irwin, a physician and chemical engineer, emerged as a leader in paint stewardship advocacy through voluntary work in Dalton. He discovered the PaintCare program’s potential to manage hazardous materials effectively.

Dr. Irwin’s vision involves organizing forums to garner grassroots support for paint EPR across the state. He engages residents, leaders, representatives, and legislators, creating a robust coalition for responsible paint disposal. His forums are not his only approach: he has gone door to doo collecting signatures and rousing support for paint care legislation. His tireless efforts elevate paint EPR in public discourse.

Dr. Irwin’s collaborative spirit fosters partnerships among diverse stakeholders, promising a lasting environmental impact. If passed, the legislation he champions would benefit the environment, municipal waste programs, and serve as a model for future EPR laws. His unique dedication deserves recognition, making him a true grassroots champion for EPR in Massachusetts.


Nancy Irwin – Medfield Transfer Station and Recycling Committee

Nancy has been the leader and organizer of the Medfield Swap Shop for 5+ years.  She organizes the volunteers (40 of them) and volunteers at the Swap Shop most days that we are open (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – May to October).  She makes sure all rules are followed for recycling and reusing items donated by residents.  In addition she has been organizing and scheduling both Household goods collections as well as textiles (especially since the new law went into effect on Nov 1, 2022).  She has begun collecting outside the Transfer Station so that those residents who live in apartments and condo’s who don’t have a Transfer Station sticker can still donate their textiles.  During the first town-wide collection, the truck provided was filled and they had to send a second one to pick up the overflow.

We filled 2 trucks.  Nancy works tirelessly and she deserves recognition for all the time and energy she has put into recycling.

Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District

The Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District serves New Bedford and Dartmouth, overseeing the Crapo Hill Landfill. They aim to reduce waste and banned materials at the landfill. With a population served of 134,862, their programs promote recycling, reuse, and waste reduction.

Food Waste Diversion: They’ve boosted compost bin sales by 1438% from FY2019 to FY2022. District staff focused on backyard composting to divert food waste.

Food Waste Drop-off: New Bedford added food waste as an accepted material at the Recycling Center in June 2022. The program includes starter kits for residents. They’ve diverted around 3,000 pounds since then.

Waste Reduction and Recycling: The district educates residents, businesses, and schools, focusing on food waste, curbside recyclables, and textiles. They’ve initiated various efforts to address recycling issues, like providing recycling bins, promoting recycling at festivals, and educating businesses about waste bans and mandatory recycling.

They’ve also coordinated textile diversion programs, including home pickup and clothing bins, which have successfully diverted tons of textiles from landfills.

Dennis Roache – City of Boston

Dennis has been Deputy Superintendent and now Superintendent of Boston’s Sanitation Department over the last few years. In those years, Dennis has helped get mattress and textiles recycling up and running, and most importantly helped oversee the launch of curbside compost. With up to 30,000 households participating weekly as of Summer 2023, Boston has one of the most progressive waste reduction programming.

Anya Pforzheimer – Watertown DPW

Watertown implemented an innovative city-wide organics collection program starting last July. Starting from 1500 and adding 250 households per quarter. We are now at 2500 and growing strong. Many other municipalities have been intrigued and motivated to follow their lead, as we have gathered from out communications with them. Lexington is starting a 2000 hh pilot, after inquiring about Watertown. North Reading, Norwood, Taunton, Grafton, Westborough, Walpole and more towns have also been motivated to follow in their own way.

Erin Dorr – Town of Bedford, Facilities Dept.

Erin has spearheaded the food waste reduction initiative at Bedford Public Schools. As a Consultant for the Facilities Dept, she has a unique ability within our Town structure to observe first-hand the needs and behaviors inside each Public School cafeteria. She has used this on the ground knowledge to tailor solutions to each individual school’s needs. Over several months, Erin worked with stakeholders at DPW, Facilities and the Schools to get buy-in for these programs. By starting small and leveraging the schools that were most willing to take steps to reduce food waste, she has built some success stories that we can now bring to the rest of the school buildings. The project was begun with diverting kitchen-generated prep waste at Bedford High and John Glen Middle School to start and build trust in the overall program. Lt Job lane School added a “share cart” to keep unopened food out of the trash next. Then JGMS took the most impactful step by diverting all student-generated food waste and adding a “share fridge” to make unopened and uneaten food available to students in the hallway. Each of these steps was carefully considered and supported with clear communication and excellent signage, including Waste Sorting Table tents, which are my personal favorite. These food waste reduction programs would not have been possible without Erin’s enthusiasm, persistence and willingness to do what is needed. JGMS has reduced lunch waste by more than half incorporating these new initiatives.

Institution / University

Mike Evens – Williams College

Williams College, nestled in Northwestern Massachusetts, fosters student-driven climate action and sustainability. Guided by their Climate Action and Zero Waste Action Plan, the college’s Zilkha Center spearheads their commitment to environmental responsibility.

Among their initiatives, WRAPS (Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus) stands out. This entirely student-led program repackages leftover pre-consumer food from dining halls and events into individual meals, which are then frozen and delivered to local meal sites in North Adams. WRAPS not only rescues surplus food but also supports the food-insecure local community. As of 2022, they’ve saved 12,133.5 pounds of food waste and prepared over 10,246 meals.

Williams College’s sustainability efforts extend beyond campus. They’ve partnered with the Community Climate Fund (CCF), providing financial support to local businesses for composting organic waste. This initiative has already engaged six businesses in a pilot program, diverting approximately 10 tons of food scraps from landfills over six months.

Williams College exemplifies a commitment to sustainability, combining campus initiatives with community outreach, making them a deserving nominee for recognition.

Environmental Stewardship Council – Stonehill College

Stonehill College’s Environmental Stewardship Council spearheaded a remarkable effort to combat single-use disposable food containers, and their Reuzzi mobile app led to incredible results. The app’s innovative use of QR codes on reusable containers achieved a 99% return rate during its pilot phase, outperforming previous systems.

By the 2022-2023 academic year, Stonehill College achieved a 76% reduction in single-use containers, translating to nearly $70,000 in annual cost savings. Their community praised Reuzzi for its practicality and contribution to sustainability.The success of Reuzzi was driven by its user-friendly interface, a gamified approach, and the dedication of the Environmental Stewardship Council. Stonehill College plans to expand the Reuzzi program, further reducing waste and emissions.

The commitment of Environmental Stewardship Council at Stonehill College to environmental sustainability sets an inspiring example for the campus and beyond.

Sustainable UMass – University of Massachusetts Amherst

In 2013, UMass Amherst students noticed the massive amount of senseless waste generated during spring move-outs. UMass Amherst students, with guidance from the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN), launched New2U. This initiative collects and repurposes items to promote sustainability and engage students. The program grew, managing over 14,000 students in 52 residence halls.

Despite the pandemic, New2U relaunched its move-out collection in Spring 2022 and resumed the tag sale in Fall 2022. They promoted the sale to incoming students through orientation events. The tag sale offers significant discounts on items, with revenue reinvested in sustainability projects through the Sustainability Innovation & Engagement Fund (SIEF), which initially funded New2U.

Planning involves tent setup, self-sorting bins, and training for staff and volunteers. Clothing and textiles are recycled, while non-perishable food is donated locally. The program collected and repurposed various items, including foam mattress pads and toppers. Four dedicated staff members played vital roles in sustaining New2U: Mike Dufresne, Dawn Bond, Ezra Small, and Laurie Simmons.

Overall, New2U has engaged over 500 volunteers, generated nearly $80,000 in sales, and diverted over 90,000 pounds of items from landfills. Their commitment to sustainability deserves recognition.

Trash2Treasure – Northeastern University

Trash2Treasure (T2T) is a Northeastern University student organization dedicated to reducing campus waste and promoting sustainability. During spring move-out, T2T collects and repurposes items, diverting a remarkable 11,428 pounds from disposal in 2023. Half of this is donated or recycled, with the rest sold at the start of the fall semester. T2T adapts and expands its program, adding a pop-up clothing sale and collecting foam mattress toppers for recycling in 2023. They are also exploring summer collection options.

Founded in 2008, T2T became an independent club in 2016 and earned the Husky Innovation Award in 2016. They strengthened their partnership with Facilities Management, with Sue Higgins serving as their advisor. T2T collaborates effectively with other student organizations, and volunteers share in the revenue. T2T works with Facilities and partner organizations to donate or recycle unsold items: Helpsy for textile recycling, Green Mattress for foam mattress toppers, and the Northeastern Mutual Aid Society for food and hygiene product donations to a community fridge.

Between sales and collections, T2T hosts sustainability-focused activities, engaging students in recycling and waste reduction. They maintain an active social media presence to reach students. Advised by Sue Higgins, T2T is praised for its service to the university, preventing waste while providing affordable items for students. Their large volunteer turnout and strong operations demonstrate their effectiveness.

Susy Jones/MIT Sustainability Office  – MIT

Susy, the Sustainability Office, and the Facilities team at MIT have made major strides in waste reduction. MIT has done excellent work increasing organics and recycling over the years. What sets MIT apart from others, though is a few unique initiatives. First, MIT employs Rheaply, an online sharing/exchange network to exchange unwanted items. When community members have research equipment, furniture, or other items they no longer want, they can post it on Rheaply. This helps save the University money but also reduces waste and disposal costs. Another unique initiative is their support for Green Labs Recycling. Several labs collect hard to recycle plastics for recycling. In dining areas, chopsticks are recycled with a local vendor to make cutting boards and other wooden items.  Furthermore, the University supports efforts to research new processes/technologies that can reduce waste or increase recycling. MIT is very deserving this award especially since being overlooked for many years!

Liv Woods  – Massachusetts Oyster Project for Clean Water, Inc

The Massachusetts Oyster Project (Mass Oyster) is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring native shellfish populations in the state’s marine estuaries. They focus on four primary activities:

Restoration: Mass Oyster collaborates with local organizations to establish and maintain oyster upwellers across Massachusetts. These upwellers grow native oysters for restoration projects and support initiatives like Wellfleet’s oyster propagation efforts.

Shell Recycling: Since 2021, Mass Oyster has partnered with the Town of Wellfleet and local restaurants on Cape Cod to collect oyster shells. After aging these shells for a year, they are placed in Wellfleet Harbor to create a habitat for juvenile oysters. This initiative repurposes shells that would otherwise go to landfills.

Education: Mass Oyster engages with school groups, Scout Troops, and environmental organizations, offering curriculum resources to educators. They aim to raise awareness about Massachusetts’ water resources and garner support for shellfish restoration.

Advocacy: The organization actively advocates for changes to Massachusetts’ laws that hinder shellfish restoration efforts.

In 2022, Mass Oyster’s shell recycling program contributed to the growth of juvenile oysters in Chipman’s Cove, Wellfleet. In 2023, volunteers bagged over 37,000 pounds of recycled shells, which were then deployed to the Cove. These shells serve as a nursery habitat for oyster spat, ultimately benefiting commercial and recreational shellfishermen. This initiative completes a vital circle, ensuring that oyster shells are back in the water, contributing to shellfish restoration projects.

MGH Institute of Health Professions

MGH Institute of Health Professions (MGH IHP) is a prominent health professions graduate school affiliated with Mass General Brigham. It offers comprehensive health profession programs encompassing clinical and non-clinical disciplines. Recognizing the crucial link between human actions, environmental impact, and public health, the Institute has embarked on a journey to enhance its sustainability efforts.

In the past year, the Institute has undertaken a major initiative to standardize waste infrastructure across its seven campus buildings. This includes introducing color-coded bins (black for trash, blue for mixed recycling, green for compost) and installing over 120 sign holders to ensure proper waste disposal. Classrooms, lounges, and kitchens now feature 23-gallon bins equipped with clear signage.

In addition to waste management, the Institute actively promotes specialty recycling, such as printer toner cartridges, light bulbs, electronic waste, and batteries. E-waste collection drives are held regularly, and battery bins are conveniently placed near common areas like printers and lounges. Customized bins are also available for specific campus programs, like a disposal solution for hearing aid batteries in the audiology program.

To further engage the campus community, MGH IHP has initiated efforts to enhance sustainability communication. Updated orientation presentations now include information about the color-coded waste bin system and other sustainability initiatives. An Earth Day presentation during staff forums sheds light on waste infrastructure and common misconceptions. Moreover, the Office of Campus Services launched a sustainability newsletter that highlights campus sustainability efforts and events, emphasizing the importance of reducing waste for the well-being of both people and the planet.

Cora Spelke, Office of Sustainability Amherst College

At Amherst College, we’ve created a sustainable closed-loop system during the annual Move Out/Move In cycle to minimize landfill waste and reduce the need for new materials. We collect donations during Move Out, focusing on keeping items within our campus community. Students are provided donation bags and drop-off spots in residence halls. These donations are then sorted over the summer and offered for free during a Yard Sale and Clothing Extravaganza held during Move In week. This initiative not only prevents items from going to landfills but also reduces the need for new purchases.

Winter coats go to international and warm-weather climate students, textbooks are given to a student-run used bookstore, and pleasure reading books are shared via the campus library’s free bookshelf. We’ve successfully repurposed over 90% of collected items, with the remaining 10% going to our local survival center. This collaborative effort involves various campus offices and stakeholders and has significantly reduced waste while benefiting our students.

Before this program, usable materials were wasted, leading to excessive landfill contributions and unnecessary repurchases. Now, we’ve transformed our linear economy into an intentional and coordinated circular system. This initiative has received praise and become a signature program of the Office of Sustainability, diverting around 20 tons of room furnishings and over ten thousand clothing items in one year. It’s particularly valuable for lower-income students and has grown in impact each year.

Lexie Raczka – Boston University Dining Services

Choose to Reuse at Boston University reduces single-use packaging at the GSU Food Hall. Initially, nearly 60% of orders used compostable disposable containers. It’s a mobile order-integrated program that seamlessly lets users opt for reusable containers or plates at no extra cost within the existing ordering process. To encourage reusables, a surcharge is applied to single-use container orders.

Operated like a library system, it partnered with and Grubhub for integration. Users, including students, staff, and faculty, can participate via the Grubhub Campus App at GSU eateries. Upon selecting a Choose to Reuse location, users consent to join and are signed up, akin to checking out library materials.

Orders selecting the reusable container option are prepared in green reusable containers, with a barcode scanned to associate them with the order placer. After marking the order as complete, it’s placed in the pick-up zone.

Customers return empty containers to marked collection bins within three days, with a two-day late return window before charges apply. SMS reminders encourage timely returns. Containers are marked as “returned” automatically after going through the dishwasher, minimizing waste and encouraging sustainability.


Miguel Encarnacion – Lightlife Foods

Lightlife Foods, a plant-based meat manufacturer in Turners Falls, owned by Greenleaf Foods, SPC Massachusetts, partnered with RecyclingWorks to preform a waste assessment to align with their annual goal of conducting plant waste audits across the United States and Canada.

Lightlife Foods exemplifies outstanding food waste prevention, donation, and diversion strategies at their facility. They prioritize food waste prevention by collecting what can be reintroduced to their manufacturing process, donating surplus foods to the Western Mass Food Bank, and composting the inedible food scraps with a local composter, Martin’s Farm. Unsalvageable packaged foods are depackaged with Bright Feeds for animal feed production. RecyclingWorks recommended improved on-site material sorting, with most suggestions implemented by plant manager Miguel Encarnacion.  The emphasis on staff training significantly reduced food waste, resulting in an estimated additional 50 tons of food donated annually to the Western Mass Food Bank. Furthermore, 55 tons of cardboard now compost at Martin’s Farm, and 5 tons of bottles and cans are diverted for single-stream recycling each year. These achievements owe much to the committed team at Lightlife Foods.

Rob Cox – Roche Brothers

Roche Brothers has demonstrated a thorough commitment to reducing food waste through their source reduction, donation, and food waste recycling programs. Roche Brothers seeks to donate all possible unsold food to Lovin’ Spoonfuls.

Food that cannot be donated – whether expired, recalled, or otherwise deemed inedible – is hauled by Recycleworks to be used to generate renewable energy through anaerobic digestion.

Recycleworks and Roche Brothers have implemented a system to collect, haul and process all inedible food waste – including packaged food – from all of the chains locations.

Each month, Recycleworks and Roche Brothers divert over 100,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill through this program. All of this unwanted, inedible food is diverted from the landfill and gets a second lease on life as a source of renewable energy.

Roche Brothers is always looking for innovative recycling solutions to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to the landfill and Recycleworks is proud to partner with them.

Vanguard Renewables

Vanguard Renewables® pioneered anaerobic codigestion technology in the U.S. nearly a decade ago when the industry was in its infancy. Their Farm Powered® program converts waste into renewable energy and fertilizer, leading a transformative shift in waste perception. In 2020, Vanguard Renewables, Starbucks, Unilever, and Dairy Farmers of America formed the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance (FPSA) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by recycling organic waste sustainably. This inspired smaller food and beverage leaders to follow. In September 2022, the Farm Powered Sustainability Heroes (FPSH) program launched with members like New England Natural Bakers, Fancypants Baking Co., and Sloop Brewing Co. FPSH fosters collaboration, helping members achieve sustainability goals through Farm Powered anaerobic digestion. In 2023, CFE Seafoods and 88 Acres joined the Alliance. FPSH offers businesses a tangible solution for organic waste and transparent reports, demonstrating their commitment to the environment, aligning with ESG claims.

To address climate goals, eight states, including four in the northeast, have implemented food waste ban legislation. FPSH and Farm Powered® support food and beverage industry businesses in navigating these evolving regulations for sustainable organic waste management.

Small Transfer Station

Barbara Beslie – Town of Savoy

Barb Belisle is a power house! She is the Town of Savoy Commissioner on Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District, Treasurer , and Transfer Station attendant . Barb takes great pride in her work full time at Ecu -Care helping our community residents navigate the Health Care system.  She also manages the Transfer Station in the Rural Town of Savoy appx 676 residents. Since she took over The swap shop has had a transformation and many shop there and find treasures! Barb discovered MassRecycle Coffee mug which will be given to MassRecycle Director, possibly the first logo of MassRecycle. The recycling diversion has increased since she has taken over. In some of the small towns yes we have to actually hand pack the paper recycling! Barb maximizes every space she can, this will help the town reduce swap outs and hauling charges. She is increased Textile, universal waste, E-cycling,

Scrap metal recycling programs! Kudo’s for Barb and her amazing attitude and work ethic.

Glad to have her part of our team at NBSWMD.

Bobby from the Town Of Cummington – Transfer Station Town of Cummington

Bobby is the most passionate attendant! He truly loves the environment, his residents and wants to help his community. He has great communication and is proactive in his approach with vendors. He really helps make his transfer station run smoothly!

Public Servant

Janine Delaney Bishop – MassDEP

Janine started her journey with MassDEP in 2008 as a Municipal Assistance Coordinator (MAC) for Southeast District 3. Her background as a Conservation Agent and her dedication to environmental sustainability impressed the hiring team, earning her the role despite her lack of recycling experience.

During her five years as the Southeast 3 MAC, Janine’s energy and enthusiasm made her a valuable addition to the team. She briefly served as a solid waste data manager in MassDEP’s Boston office, where her analytical skills contributed to the Solid Waste Master Plan.

In 2016, she returned to MassDEP as a Regional Planner III, managing various waste reduction programs. Her expertise in local government and grant management led her to become the Recycling Grant Program Manager in 2018. In this role, she oversaw the distribution of over $30 million to numerous cities and towns.

Throughout her journey, Janine supported her colleagues and maintained the integrity of her programs. Her dedication and mentorship were especially evident during transitions, ensuring the continuity and success of her initiatives.

In May 2023, Janine moved to the Drinking Water Program at MassDEP. Before her departure, she organized a memorable zero waste retirement party for her mentor, Brooke Nash.

Janine’s strength lies in her ability to connect with people and develop lasting relationships. She’s not only passionate about waste reduction but also committed to reusing items whenever possible. Her efforts to rescue items from being discarded and promote reusable foodware showcase her commitment to sustainability.

Senator Joan Lovely – Massachusetts Legislature

Joan has always been a strong supporter of reuse, recycling and waste reduction as well as other environmental initiatives include wind, and solar. She has been a co-sponsor of many important bills -and just signed on to co-sponsor the Paint Stewardship Bill!  Thank you Joan!

Owen Zaret – City of Easthampton City council

Owen has organized and taken part in trash clean up work, the nip bin project,  plastics ordinance, and general environmental sustainability practice.

Kathleen Healey – Canton High School

I am nominating Katie Healey for the MassRecycle Public Servant award. Katie is currently a science teacher at Canton High School, but she brings a wealth of knowledge from her years as an environmental engineer. More than experience, Katie has a passion for environmental issues and has worked diligently to incorporate this into the coursework for her students.

Whether she is teaching robotics, environmental science, or other science classes, she finds ways to bring up waste. In the fall of 2022, I spoke to her sustainability class about careers in the waste industry. Katie has hosted e-waste drives to reduce waste and support the Canton High Robotics team.

Her students have worked on projects like building backyard composters, evaluating swaps of Styrofoam trays to compostable trays in the diving hall, and learning about zero waste and sustainability using publicly available resources.

Elizabeth Bone- Town of East Longmeadow Health Department

The Town of East Longmeadow has been extremely fortunate to have Liz Bone as our Recycling Coordinator, since 2017. In her time here she has launched a multitude of recycling and waste management initiatives.

Liz coordinates annual recycling events for such items as textiles, electronics, batteries, and school supplies and even organizes quarterly “Fix It” clinic events in conjunction with our Council on Aging.

She organizes our annual Earth Day events which continue to gather more volunteers and cover more area each year. This year alone we had over 200 volunteers and recycled 800 pounds of bottles and cans! Liz also spearheads our residential compost and rain barrel initiative, providing affordable conservation solutions to residents.

Of all of the programs, the most notable over the last year would be our Town’s school lunch waste recycling program. Liz has worked tirelessly, with the help of students and staff, to reduce cafeteria waste by 95%!

Liz is such an amazing asset to our Town and we appreciate everything she does to make it greener!

Mark Ryan – Town of Norwood

Mark Ryan serves as the Public Works Director and Town Engineer for the Town of Norwood. He has worked for the town since 1999 and oversees a department of 52 employees. Mr. Ryan is responsible for managing the curbside solid waste and recycling program, the annual Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Day, and the operation of our Recycling Facility.

Under Mark Ryan’s direction, the department has a series of goals related to solid waste:

  • Reduce solid waste generation by 30% by 2030, including textiles, junk mail, and food scraps
  • Ban plastic bags and polystyrene in Norwood; and promote sustainable/reusable packaging options
  • Increase public awareness of existing waste diversion options
  • Achieving zero-waste by 2050
  • Creating a circular economy through creative solutions for production, consumption, and management

Strategies to meet these goals include:

  • Launched two food scrap composting drop-off sites (flier attached), with a goal to expand to additional areas in FY’24
  • Ensured that all town-sponsored events are zero waste/utilize composting
  • Ensured that all permitted events require the use of composting materials
  • In late spring/early summer 2023, will open a reuse it swap-shop at the Recycling Facility, providing a space for residents to give away usable items that they no longer wants or need; and finding things that they can use