Springfield Township scores highest on marketable recycling

by Betsy Wallace
Posted 5/19/21

As usual, the Springfield Township Commissioners had a full array of agenda items to handle at their Workshop and Business meetings.

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Springfield Township scores highest on marketable recycling

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As usual, the Springfield Township Commissioners had a full array of agenda items to handle at their Workshop and Business meetings.  Here are the highlights.

Recycling audit shows Springfield Township’s materials are the cleanest/most marketable.

The Commissioners announced the results of an independent recycling audit for the Montgomery County Recycling Consortium showed that Springfield Township had a residue rate of 11% (in other words, the cleanest recycling materials), and an 89% recovery rate (the proportion of recycling material that can be sold), the best in the Consortium of Springfield, Abington, Cheltenham, Plymouth, Hatboro, Upper Moreland, and Upper Dublin Townships.  According to Township Manager Michael Taylor, the audit confirms that “Springfield Township residents do a really great job of making sure their recyclables are clean and this positively affects our recovery rate.”

The cleaner the materials we put into our recycling bins, the less the Township pays for recycling. 

“Materials that aren’t rinsed clean have no resale value,” Taylor said. “All that Mascaro can do with them is trash them.” 

The biggest culprits are unrinsed food containers.  

“Simply put, a good rinsing of food containers reduces the cost of recycling for the Township,” Taylor said.  For a complete list of accepted recycling materials, see springfieldmontco.org/information/news-notifications/article/?id=6166

Mascaro has been providing one-stop-shopping recycling services to the Consortium for years, including operating the Consortium’s transfer facility in Abington Township (each Township takes its recycling directly to this facility), hauling the recycling materials from the transfer facility to Mascaro’s recycling facility in Birdsboro, and then processing and reselling the recyclable materials.  The Consortium’s contract with Mascaro is due to expire soon.  At the Business meeting, the Commissioners voted to approve a Request for Proposal that unbundles the three recycling components, resulting in a more competitive bidding process and lower bids.

Natural Lands Trust gives presentation on land protection, municipal land use and trails

The Township’s 2014 Comprehensive plan will be ripe for updating in the near future.  With that in mind and at the invitation of Commissioner Jonathon Cobb, two representatives of the Natural Lands Trust, Ann Hutchinson, Senior Director of Municipal  Planning and Jack Stefferud, Senior Director of Land Protection, gave a half-hour presentation on conservation and preservation services available to municipalities.

According to Hutchinson and Stefferud, for municipalities wanting to save open space, it all comes down to “buy the best, zone the rest.”

Stefferud stressed that the Township “has to decide up front, why is the land important?”  When asked by Commissioner Wilson when to start engaging the owners of a property in a discussion, Stefferud said “Yesterday.  If the Township wants to acquire land, it makes sense to contact the landowner right away.”

Stefferud has done transactions that took 15-20 years. 

“It’s important to let people know that you’re interested and that you’re not going anywhere.”  Money to buy land usually comes from grants.

In the past few years, the Township has included a trail component in particular land developments but there is no general sense of how all of these trail components would be connected. 

The Commissioners were interested in working with NLT to update the Township’s plan for an overarching trail network that would make the Township walkable.  Township Manager Taylor noted that a local trail map exists in the most recent Parks and Recreation Plan that the Commissioners can review.

Public access to workshop agenda materials and hybrid virtual/in-person meetings.

Commissioner Cobb suggested that they convert the workshop agenda and supporting materials into an easily navigable digital document so that the public could access it prior to workshop meetings.  It shouldn’t be costly to do but the public document cannot include any executive-privileged documents and the digital format would have to accommodate those Commissioners who like to make notes on the agenda materials.  The public document will be too large to email – the Township is looking at several options for making the materials available to the public, including using Dropbox and providing a hard copy of the materials in the Township Building.

The Township could hold hybrid workshop and business meetings once the CDC Guidelines are lifted.  While the Commissioners themselves will be required by law to return to in-person meetings, the Township is looking at the possibility of giving residents an option of attending via videoconferencing or attending the meetings in-person.  Technical logistics would have to be worked out.  Filming the workshop meeting is too expensive because workshop meetings usually are three hours long. 

Film viewing: The Stories We Hide: Discrimination at School

At the outset of the Business Meeting, Commissioner Graham presented a short film created by local student members of the Cheltenham NAACP Youth Leadership Committee. The format was anonymous narratives of racism in our schools read by the student leaders.  Graham said “These student leaders, concerned about racial inequity in the school system, gathered statistics and stories and have identified several concerning trends in academics, discipline, and staff bias.  This video is a small fraction in a collection of anonymous narratives of local students’ experiences of racism in their schools.”

Township residents can request an audio recording of the Workshop Meeting by contacting Michael Taylor, Township Manager, by email: mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org.  Residents may view the Recorded Business meetings and check all Public Meeting Agendas and Minutes here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/government/meeting-agendas-minutes/

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