At long last, more “diversity and equity” have been brought to East Longmeadow’s trash and recycling program. According to the town’s health director, Tammy Spencer, East Longmeadow will now have its trash/recycling calendars and guides written in both English and Spanish in order to comply with requirements set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Spencer told the board members that adding Spanish to the town’s trash literature was being done, in part, to qualify for DEP’s 2022 Recycling Dividends Program.

According to DEP’s pamphlet outlining the program’s criteria,

The Recycling Dividends Program (RDP) will provide payments to municipalities that have implemented specific programs and policies proven to maximize reuse, recycling, and waste reduction.

The program grants “special consideration” for a subset referred to as the “Environmental Justice Populations.” These populations include any of the following:

The annual median household income is not more than 65 percent of the statewide annual median

minorities comprise 40 percent or more of the population,

and 25 percent or

more of households lack English language proficiency, or Minorities comprise 25 percent or more of the population and the annual median household income for the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150 percent of the statewide
annual median household income.

Under the pamphlet’s section entitled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Recycling Program,” it states that to qualify for grant money, a municipality must have completed a minimum of two activities from the following:

Multilingual recycling & trash guides were available on website and/or sent as a mailer or using
Recycle Smart translated guides.

Sent multilingual materials to property managers for multifamily dwellings/apartment/condominium complexes, public housing and/or mobile home parks.

Multilingual recycling & trash reminders/signage posted at drop-off location.

Multilingual guides for handling HHW properly were available on municipal website and/or sent as mailer.

Multilingual handouts/guides were available at schools for students to take home.

Hosted multilingual webinar or social media live stream/video or Cable TV program 1x/year for recycling education/outreach or created video guides.

Reduced or subsidized PAYT bag or sticker fees for low-income or residents experiencing other hardships.

Reduced Transfer Station/Recycling Center access fee for low-income residents.

Reduced costs for HHW collection/bulky waste/zero waste collection events for low-income residents, or residents experiencing other hardships.

Later in the meeting, Ms. Spencer spoke about the town’s community health survey that’s now available to residents on the health department’s website.

Heath board vice-president Dr. Katie Jobbins was like super excited about the survey but expressed concerns that it was not made available in languages other than English.

To watch her exchange with the health director, click the video below.