The Baker-Polito administration yesterday awarded more than $2.9 million in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grants to 262 municipalities and regional solid waste districts to help them maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs.

The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program was created under the Green Communities Act and is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. The MassDEP reports that 219 communities qualified for the Recycling Dividends Program under the SMRP and will receive payments ranging from $2,100 to $97,500 for a total of $2.93 million statewide.

The Recycling Dividends Program, launched in 2014 under the SMRP, recognizes municipalities that have implemented policies and programs proven to maximize materials reuse and recycling, as well as waste reduction. Communities that earn RDP payments must reinvest the funds in their recycling programs for items such as new recycling bins or carts, public education and outreach campaigns, collection of hard-to-recycle items, and the establishment of recycling programs in schools, municipal buildings and other public spaces.

Also in this grant round, 43 municipalities will be awarded a total of $44,000 for a Small-Scale Initiatives Grant – a population-based grant ranging from $500 to $2,000 to help communities purchase modest but important recycling materials and outreach tools needed to sustain their existing recycling program or to facilitate new, low-cost initiatives.

The number of municipalities that qualified for RDP grants increased 11 percent over last year, and the amount awarded increased by more than 14 percent, according to the MassDEP. Twenty-seven municipalities are first-time recipients of Recycling Dividends Program funds.

“Organics, paper, metals and plastic constitute more than 65 percent of the materials we throw away today, but the Commonwealth has made it a priority to recycle and reuse these valuable materials,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These SMRP grants will help communities pump up their current recycling programs, capturing more materials that can be reused and recycled, and helping them cut their waste disposal costs.”

The Green Communities Act of 2008 requires that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Waste Energy Certificates be directed to recycling programs approved by the MassDEP. The SMRP initiative has provided more than $35 million to local and regional recycling programs since 2010, according to the MassDEP.

Link to MassDEP website for listing of the 262 RDP and Small Scale grant awards