I want to give a shout out to every Westfield resident who brought recycling materials to the Conservation Center in 2020. Because of your efforts, 240 tons of materials were recycled instead of being thrown away. This is an amazing accomplishment and a great example of putting the mantra of "Think Globally/Act Locally" into action.
Some may not realize this, but many of the recycling programs you now participate in didn’t exist four years ago. I'm proud to report that under my leadership as Chair of the Public Works Committee and Liaison to the Green Team, the town of Westfield launched 11 new recycling programs at the Conservation Center—at no cost to taxpayers—during the past three-plus years. These include the ability to now recycle Styrofoam/EPS, plastic bags, food waste, #5 plastics, plastic toys, fluorescent light bulbs, household batteries, books, cork, tennis balls, and even crayons. As a result, we helped Westfield families not only clean out their homes, but we also prevented all this material from being thrown out, a win-win for Westfield residents and the environment.
Launching and running these programs isn’t easy, especially given the volumes that are being collected. For example, 50 percent of all the Styrofoam that’s recycled in all of Union County is now collected at the Westfield Conservation Center.
Thanks to my leadership and the hard work and dedication of the Department of Public Works (especially Conservation Center manager Rich Eubanks) and the Westfield Green Team, we continue to proactively find ways to keep existing programs operating at no cost to you while launching new ones. Here are two examples:
Plastic Bags Establishing plastic bag recycling in Westfield required finding a willing partner at a local supermarket. This way, we could take bags collected at the Conservation Center to this local supermarket for consolidation and transport to a recycling vendor. I personally reached out to the store managers at Stop & Shop here in Westfield as well as Acme and Whole Foods in Clark and got Acme to agree to be our partner. And, after the program became a huge success and the volume of bags started to overwhelm Acme to the point that they wanted to stop Westfield’s drop-off altogether, I reconnected with Stop & Shop and arranged for Westfield to drop off bags at both stores, ensuring this program continued.
#5 Plastics In 2018, I heard from many residents who were disappointed when changes in global markets required that the Town of Westfield stop the curbside collection of #5 plastics (such as yogurt and takeout food containers). I too shared these same concerns and remained determined to bring back #5 plastics recycling. Late last year, I learned from a recycling expert and Westfield resident that a market for recycled #5 plastics was starting to reemerge in the US. I immediately requested that our town’s Recycling Coordinator follow up with Westfield’s recycling vendor. After several discussions, Westfield was able to reinstitute #5 plastics recycling at the Conservation Center in mid-April 2021. Since then, more than 3 tons of #5 plastics have been collected at the Conservation Center which otherwise would have been thrown away.
These are examples of the proactive leadership I have brought to the Council over the past three-plus years and hope to continue to bring to the Council over the next four. I'm asking for your vote on Nov. 2 to continue this work moving Westfield forward on behalf of our Town and residents of the Third Ward.
Please contact me at [email protected] or 917-589-1197 if you have any questions.
Ward 3 Councilman David Contract