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Wellesley celebrates 50 years of local recycling program

Robin Wechsler disposes of her family's food waste at the Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility in 2018.
Robin Wechsler disposes of her family's food waste at the Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility in 2018.Erin Clark for The Boston Globe

The town of Wellesley is celebrating 50 years of a local recycling program that officials say has grown into a “daily habit” for residents and a source of revenue for the community.

Wellesley officials are planning activities to involve residents and businesses as part of the anniversary, according to a statement posted to the town website.

Beginning this month and continuing through the year, the town is hosting the “Recyclable of the Month” at its Recycling and Disposal Facility, the statement said. The new program will feature information about why materials should be recycled.

“Recycling has become a foundation for the Wellesley community and I am humbled to be part of it,” said Jamie Manzolini, the facility’s superintendent. “The RDF team is continually exploring the newest technologies to ensure that Wellesley can continue to process recyclable material in the most beneficial way possible, both environmentally and financially.”


Wellesley’s recycling began as a volunteer effort led by a local group — called “Action for Ecology” — in early 1971. The volunteers collected glass jars and bottles and brought them to a nearby Coca-Cola plant, and the town’s dump supervisor set aside some space for people to bring their glass containers.

The program quickly grew, and added newspaper and can recycling within months. In its first year, the effort recycled about 750 tons of material.

Wellesley’s dump has since been replaced with the town Recycling and Disposal Facility, which can handle materials ranging from glass, plastic, and aluminum to mattresses, appliances, and yard waste, according to the statement.

Mary Ann Cluggish, a founding member of Action for Ecology, said that volunteers supported the recycling program by writing newspaper articles, giving talks at schools, plus handled logistics to get the effort running.

“It is still one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done. I hope Wellesley will always continue to be a leader in sustainability,” Cluggish said in the statement.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.