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SHIRLEY — The town of Shirley has been awarded a $3,500 Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant that will help maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs. The grant was created under the Green Communities Act and is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“I’m proud to represent communities that are dedicated to reversing the destructive effects of climate change,” said state Sen. Jamie Eldridge. “I want to thank the Baker-Polito administration for awarding this important environmental protection grant to Shirley, which will boost our recycling and waste reduction efforts.”

During the first round of 2017 funding, 185 communities qualified for the Recycling Dividends Program and will receive payments ranging from $2,100 to $84,500, for a total of $2.25 million statewide. The program recognizes municipalities that have implemented policies and programs proven to maximize materials reuse and recycling, as well as waste reduction.

Communities that earn RDP payments must reinvest the funds in their recycling programs for things such as new recycling bins or carts, public education and outreach campaigns, collection of hard-to-recycle items and the establishment of recycling programs in schools, municipal buildings and other public spaces.

“Congratulations to Shirley on securing a SMRP grant for 2017,” said state Rep. Jennifer Benson. “This funding will help the town maintain and expand their recycling services and help the environment.”

An additional 53 municipalities and regional entities that did not apply for or qualify for an RDP grant will be awarded a total of $53,750 for a Small-Scale Initiatives Grant. These population-based grants range from $500 to $2,000 each and help communities purchase modest, but critical recycling materials and outreach tools needed to sustain their existing recycling program or to facilitate new, low-cost initiatives.

The RDP was a new initiative rolled out in 2014 under MassDEP’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which was created by the Green Communities Act of 2008. The Act requires that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Waste Energy Certificates be directed to recycling programs approved by MassDEP. The SMRP initiative has provided more than $24 million in recycling programs since July of 2010.