2014-03-14 / Around Town

Recycling Crown Up for Grabs

By Tom Walsh

Kyle F. Hence, Portsmouth’s recycling coordinator, had only been on the job since last August and was searching for new ways to generate more local interest in what he’d been hired to do.

Then it came to him.

“It was early in my tenure on the job. I wanted to do something to raise awareness of the recycling issue. And I started thinking that people seem to like competition,” he said. “So how about having a recycling competition?”

His counterparts in Newport, Middletown and Bristol liked the sound of Hence’s idea. And those communities have all formally joined the competition.

Soon, Hence’s idea had grown to become the East Bay Community Recycling Competition. The competition will start, appropriately enough, on April 22 – “Earth Day.” It will wrap up at the end of the school year in June on a date still to be determined.

Competitors will be judged in two ways – by the highest increase in recycling and the biggest decrease in solid waste tonnage. Each community will be responsible for posting performance results online.

“Our primary goal is to boost recycling rates across Aquidneck Island and Bristol and reduce solid waste hauled to a central landfill by increasing awareness, practical action, and recycling solutions,” Hence said. Secondarily, Hence hopes his idea will inspire similar competitions across Rhode Island. He also hopes that it will help to develop and refine “public engagement strategies for ongoing recycling education and outreach efforts.”

“We need to educate residents about the growing producer responsibility movement and identify and overcome impediments to higher recycling,” Hence said.

For those recycling advocates who also have artistic ability, the event will also include an art contest. “The challenge will be to create the most compelling message around trash and recycling,” Hence said. Categories will include video, song, poster, pin, and T-shirts or hats.

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