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MMA Innovation Award winner, From The Beacon, February 2017
With a simple redesign of its recycling units, better locations throughout the city, and improved outreach, Salem officials say they have seen significant improvements to a program designed to clear the streets of unsightly cigarette waste.
The “Park Your Butts” program began in October 2014 with the purchase of 90 recycling bins for cigarette butts that the city placed throughout the downtown. For every pound of cigarette waste discarded in the bins, TerraCycle donates $1 to Salem Main Streets. But the program wasn’t immediately successful.
“We saw some utilization, but it was nowhere close to what we had hoped to achieve,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said.
Instead of giving up the program, the city retooled it. Working with its all-volunteer recycling committee, SalemRecycles, and watershed association, Salem Sound Coastwatch, the city selected new bins with new artwork and better designs that would make them more visible.
The bins were relocated to 60 more appropriate locations, while SalemRecycles and Salem Sound Coastwatch promoted the program by staffing tables at the farmers market and using Facebook and flyers.
Dominick Pangallo, Driscoll’s chief of staff, said that the new bins are now about half-full each week when they’re collected.
“We’re monitoring the amount collected each week and are able to adjust the locations based on use to encourage the greatest amount of utilization,” Pangallo said.
“We were able to increase the amount of cigarette waste being placed in the receptacles instead of on our sidewalks and, more importantly, boost awareness in general about the proper disposal of cigarette butts,” Driscoll said. “All while continuing our commitment to recycling as much as possible.”
For more information, contact Mayor Kim Driscoll’s office at (978) 619-5600.