For years, the MBTA has been moving people throughout Greater Boston. These days, it will also help you get rid of some trash.
This Saturday, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority will hold a regional recycling event at the Kingston commuter rail parking lot. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents from any community can drop off items ranging from computers and swing sets to air conditioners, clothing, toys, lawn mowers, and washing machines.
The event is the third in a series of community recycling days that the MBTA has begun holding at its Greater Boston transit facilities, according to Timothy W. Lasker, the MBTA’s sustainability specialist.
The collections offer residents a convenient way of recycling items that in many cases cannot be placed in regular trash or recycling collection, while also saving fees often charged at municipal facilities. Except for televisions (at 35 cents a pound), there is no charge for the items.
“We wanted to do a program that was not only good for the environment, but would also show communities that we weren’t just a transportation department, that we cared about the communities we serve,” Lasker said. “We felt it was important to show our customers and the communities that we are trying to pitch in and help them in a number of different ways.”
The initiative was organized earlier this year, at a time when the financially strapped MBTA was facing a public outcry over proposed bus and subway fare increases and some service cuts, which have since taken effect.
Lasker said the recycling program does help the MBTA with its public relations, but was not undertaken in response to the controversy.
‘This was just something that felt right when we started doing it.’ - Timothy W. Lasker, Sustainability specialist for the MBTA
“This was just something that felt right when we started doing it,” he said. “It was just coincidence that we happened to be dealing with all these other financial issues.”
Claire Sullivan, executive director of the South Shore Recycling Cooperative, said she welcomes the MBTA’s initiative. The cooperative provides assistance to Kingston and 13 other communities to shrink their trash tonnage by promoting the reducing, recycling, and reuse of trash items.
“This is a good way to divert some of these materials from having to be dealt with by the towns,” she said.
Lasker said the recycling program is part of an overall effort by the MBTA to become greener in its operations. As part of that policy, the agency has also begun recycling wastes at its maintenance facilities and has placed paper-recycling bins at many of its stations.
The MBTA, whose employees volunteer for the event, can offer the mostly free disposal because it works with a contractor that collects and hauls the items without charge. The company keeps the proceeds it receives from disassembling the items and selling parts for reuse.
At the first recycling day, held at the Salem train station in June, the MBTA collected about 50,000 pounds of items brought by about 400 vehicles. The second event, at the Orient Heights Blue Line station in Boston last month, collected about 10,000 pounds. Laker said the haul was smaller because Boston has a good recycling program and many residents in that area don’t have a vehicle to carry their trash to the station.
Paul Balser, Kingston’s highway superintendent, said his town’s transfer station accepts the types of items that the MBTA is collecting, in most cases without a charge. The station, which also accepts regular trash and recyclables, is available to residents who purchase a $140 annual sticker or a $10 day pass.
But for the one-third of Kingston households that do not use the transfer station, Baler said, the MBTA’s program offers “a very convenient way to dispose of these types of debris they may generate.”
The Silver Lake Regional School District, meanwhile, is lending its help with the event. At the town’s request, the district planned to send home fliers to all kindergarten to sixth-grade students, and to place posters in the regional middle and high schools, both located in Kingston.
“We are certainly interested in spreading the word,” school Superintendent John Tuffy said. “We were asked by the town to do this, and we certainly think it’s a great idea.”
He said some students in a Silver Lake Regional High group that works on recycling also plan to volunteer for the event.
The recycling day will not accept wood, glass, hazardous materials, liquids, tires, mattresses, carpets, paint, upholstered furniture, Styrofoam, fluorescent bulbs, toilets, or household trash. For more information, e-mail Timothy Lasker at firstname.lastname@example.org.John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.