Montserrat Archbald receives Western Mass Outstanding Recycler of the Year Award

November 18, 2010

I was delighted to nominate Montserrat Archbald for Springfield MRF Recycler of the Year, said Amy Donovan, Program Director from the Franklin County Solid Waste District.  As part of an America Recycles Day celebration, the Springfield MRF Advisory Board honored “Everyday Heroes” of western MA recycling programs at a special held at The Delaney House in Holyoke, Massachusetts. 

Outstanding Recycler of the Year awards were presented to Montserrat Archbald from Greenfield Community College (GCC) for her participation in the Green River Festival, as well as Dr. Mary Czajkowski, the Superintendent of the Agawam Schools, and the Pedal People from Northampton.   Ms. Archbald is the Chair of the Green Campus Committee at GCC and is well known for her activism on campus, including expanding the GCC bottle and can recycling program and laying the groundwork for future composting efforts on campus. She is perhaps best known amongst students and staff for her weekly Green Tips emails on recycling, waste reduction, and saving energy.

The Green River Festival is a music and hot air balloon festival that takes place every July on the GCC campus.  Montserrat was a long time attendee of the event and after the 2007 Festival she approached the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce (FCCC) about the lack of recycling at this popular event, which attracts approximately 15,000 attendees from all over the country. The FCCC gladly put Montserrat in charge of recycling for the 2008 festival, provided some free tickets for recycling volunteers, and a recycling program was born.

At the 2008 Festival 7.16 cubic yards of bottles and cans was recycled. For the 2009 festival Montserrat borrowed 50 recycling containers from the Franklin County Solid Waste District and more than doubled the amount recycled to 16.24 cubic yards. But the 2010 Festival saw unprecedented numbers: a whopping 24.65 cubic yards of recyclable containers – about 16,760 bottles and cans – was recycled. This represents a 52% increase over 2009 and a 244% increase over 2008.  The Solid Waste District loans recycling bins, sorting tables, and equipment and each year assists with the purchase of recycling bin liners.

Montserrat and her 17 hard working recycling volunteers also collected two cubic yards of cardboard generated by food and craft vendors. The recycling team emptied liquids from beverage containers, removed any trash or contamination from the recycling, and collected bottle caps separately for recycling via the Aveda Re-Cap Program. They redeemed the returnable bottles and cans, with $138.50 in bottle and can deposits going toward GCC’s Green Campus Committee.

The cardboard and the non-redeemable recyclables such as water and juice bottles, which are the majority of the recyclables, is sent to the Greenfield Transfer Station after each Festival, and then to the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). At the MRF the plastic, metal, and glass containers are sorted and baled for shipment to recycling facilities. 

It is interesting to note that since the majority of the food vendors are local restaurants, there are no soda fountains at the Festival, and therefore the trashing of many cubic yards of non-recyclable paper or plastic cups, lids, and straws is avoided. Food vendors serve beverages only in recyclable bottles and cans, and in addition, attendees are allowed to bring coolers, which are often filled with recyclable bottles and cans.