Recycling & Solid Waste Disposal

Reducing waste, reusing resources, and recycling are not new concepts to New Englanders. The region’s pragmatism and history of limited resources has taught residents never to take more than they need, and not to waste what may not be available tomorrow.

In order to become a truly sustainable community, Keene must continue teaching future generations about recycling and waste management. The majority of the natural resources we extract from the earth are refined and used once before being placed in a landfill. Much of what we put into landfills never biodegrades and can pollute adjacent water supplies. As Keene develops into a model sustainable small community, it is important to move towards reducing waste or possibly even making Keene a zero-waste community – eliminating landfill waste altogether. New markets could be identified for recyclables and other materials that can be repurposed.

The City of Keene and community partners should develop an educational campaign with the goal of reducing waste generated by residents and commercial operations by 70% through recycling, reclaiming, and composting. All waste generated within the community, including construction waste, should be brought to the facility for recycling, reclamation, composting or transport, as appropriate.

The community and city are in a position to require innovative waste management for new construction projects. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points are awarded when 50% to 75% of construction waste is diverted from the landfill; this could be coupled with a green building incentive program to encourage builders and developers to design and build eco-efficient buildings.

Other possible techniques for waste-reduction goal achievement are:

  • Bring back education provided by the city to inform residents and businesses about simple, cost-neutral ways to reduce waste. A calendar was used as part of a previous successful educational campaign.
  • Explore possibilities for creating new industry or industry partners who could use the municipal waste as a clean fuel source or raw materials.
  • Create the gas to energy to local food production system at the transfer station and recycling center, which would create jobs, provide local sources of food and feedstock, generate renewable energy for the facility, and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Include recycling options in public facilities where they are easily accessible and visible, including public parks and trails.
  • Expand the composting program to include commercial food waste.