Sustainability Banner


            The following articles are reprinted from TeamWorks the employee newsletter of the MBTA  

Richie Hart Article


Too Much Paper



News first ariticle 1.2014To follow up on last year’s successful community recycling, the MBTA once again hosted free recycling events in the spring and summer. They were held in Commuter Rail parking lots at Ashland, Kingston, and Salem stations, as well as subway parking lots at Orient Heights and Wonderland, and at the Watertown Bus Yard. The local community was encouraged to bring in everything from computers to microwaves to major appliances to be recycled. There was no charge for recycled goods, except for televisions.

A number of communities sponsor similar events, but they often charge to dispose of each item, and the wait time to drop off goods can be as long as 45 minutes. The MBTA appreciates how valuable each customer’s time is and worked efficiently to facilitate a quick and easy recycling process at these events. Each event lasted four hours and averaged 275 cars per event—a rate of more than one car per minute. To date, the MBTA has collected 33,195 lbs. of televisions and 194,455 lbs. of other recyclable goods. This means that the T has kept over 100 metric tons of land-banned items out of landfills and disposed of them properly.

Most of the workers who helped at these events are MBTA employees who volunteered their time. One T employee shared that he was amazed at the turnout and the amount of stuff dropped off. He also commented on the look of surprise, and appreciation, on people’s faces when they found out it was an MBTA event. The MBTA works with a recycling company that specializes in dismantling “land-banned” items so that there is no impact on landfills. The company breaks down the items into specific commodities, and then sells them. Sometimes there might be a $10.00 charge (per carload) to a person recycling items to offset the recycling company’s costs since the commodities market can vary a great deal; but this is still an economical and environmentally friendly way to get rid of stuff.

At the time of this article there were three additional events scheduled for this fall: Andover, Wachusett Mountain, and Wellington Station. For information about recycling options in your department or upcoming MBTA recycling events, please contact Tim Lasker, Sustainability Specialist, at (617) 222-5750 or tlasker@mbta.com.


Early in 2012, the MBTA completed a massive environmental cleanup at the Readville Yard 5 facility. The facility is a 45-acre parcel located on Industrial Drive on the border of Boston and Dedham.

The site was contaminated with lead and arsenic, which were commonly used in rail yards during the 1800s through the mid-1900s. Nearly 18,000 tons of contaminated soil were removed from the property, as well as about 11.2 tons of miscellaneous trash, 1,000 tons of concrete and metals, and 74 tons of railroad ties. News Second article 1.2014All materials and soil were taken to appropriate disposal facilities.

The MBTA plans to retain a portion of the property for rail use, and plans to sell the majority of the yard to a private group for development.

On the portion that the MBTA is retaining, plans are in place to install solar arrays. The arrays will generate clean, renewable energy. Each will have a capacity of 2,600 kWh, and produce a minimum of 1.7 million kWh, which is equal to the annual average energy usage of 316 homes.

The MBTA will have no upfront costs for the solar project's construction. The T will in turn purchase 100% of the electricity from the solar developer, and as a result will save over $1.5 million in electricity costs over a 20-year period.

Initially, local residents were concerned about what the MBTA was doing to rectify the environmental conditions of the site. But after numerous public meetings and a thorough remediation process, residents came to appreciate the work the MBTA had performed, and look forward to the solar project’s development.


News third article 1.2014It’s not something one really thinks about as they wait for the signal to change before they can drive across the tracks, or when the subway stops in a tunnel and then proceeds. Yet signals play an integral part in the safety and operation of subways and trains.

There are over 2,300 signals on the Red, Orange, Green, and Blue lines. Up until recently, signals used small incandescent light bulbs that lasted about six weeks; and replacing a signal bulb required two people because of safety requirements for working on a right of way. Needless to say, changing these lights is a recurring cost that mounts up quickly.

Who better to solve the costly problem than James Christian, Supervisor of Signal Maintenance. James knew the eventual solution would be to use LED bulbs, but there were two problems: those bulbs need a bayonet base that would be able to plug into existing units; and LED bulbs are expensive! But James also knew that LED bulbs lasted about six to eight years and used approximately 1/12th the amount of electricity of incandescent bulbs. So he worked with a manufacturer to develop a LED bulb that cost half the amount of similar bulbs, and met MBTA specifications.

As of the end of 2012, James and his crew have installed about 1,500 bulbs at a cost of $138,000 for parts and labor. This might seem like a lot of money, but the return on investment was reached within four months, and the savings for the MBTA over a three-year period will be around $1.17 million!

Through innovation and hard work, James Christian has saved the MBTA over $1 million, and has the T one step closer to achieving the secretary’s GreenDOT Implementation Plan—all this just by changing light bulbs! Kudos James, and thank you.


News fourth article 1.2014On a brisk Saturday last June, the MBTA held its first community recycling event at the Commuter Rail parking lot in Salem, Mass. For the last year the MBTA has been working on a pilot project with Northeast Materials, a company that specializes in recycling materials in a responsible fashion, so that “land-banned” items do not end up in our landfills. Tom Daly, Manager of Environmental Compliance at the MBTA, thought if we can do this for the MBTA, why not offer it to the communities we serve.

The turnout exceeded expectations with over 400 cars, trucks, and vans dropping off recyclables. The response was overwhelmingly positive and left people with a “feel-good” sentiment knowing they were able to responsibly recycle their items for free. The public was thrilled that the T would host such an event. Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and her kids even showed up to participate having traveled back from New York City for a school field trip.

The mayor was pleased with the turnout and surprised by the huge amount of material being recycled. She Tweeted, “Huge turnout 4 community recycling event sponsored by MassDOT at Salem T station. 400+ cars already thru + helping recycle tons of electronics.” The total weight received that day was 48,839 lbs. (8,009 lbs. from televisions alone).

News fourth article B 1.2014On Saturday, September 8, there was another recycling event at the Orient Heights station parking lot in East Boston. About 9,000 lbs. was received, with people even bringing items via the subway.

A number of MBTA employees volunteered to help at these events, which continued throughout the summer. Their efforts were truly appreciated! To help with future recycling events, please contact Timothy Lasker, Sustainability
Specialist, (617) 522-5750 or tlasker@mbta.com.


News fifth article 1.2014Whether we like it or not, the MBTA produces a lot of trash. With the guidance of Tom Daly, Manager of Environmental Compliance, the MBTA’s recycling initiative has become a growing success. In 2011, the MBTA recycled approximately 68,000 lbs. of cardboard, 26,500 lbs. of batteries, and 200,000 lbs. of scrap metal from 11 bus and eight subway facilities. In fact, the MBTA recycled over 235 tons of waste in 2011 alone!

Meet Linda Laracy, Electrical Foreperson at the Everett Bus Facility. Linda has taken on the task of recycling at the facility with a vengeance. Her Supervisor, Paul Flynn, and Deputy Director Tom Boyle, allocated Bay 14 for materials to be recycled. Linda has setup bins for all types of materials from cardboard to batteries. She makes sure that paint cans are separate from the solvents as well as having special drums that deflate aerosol cans.

Linda explains: “People don’t know that putting this kind of waste in regular garbage is illegal, and we are all responsible to properly dispose of it.” She has worked at the MBTA since 1996. “If I get help, this does not take all day.” She makes sure that every department at the facility has the appropriate bins for collection. Each Monday, all recyclable waste is collected and brought to Bay 14 where the recycler picks up and removes it every Tuesday.

The Everett Bus Facility is the leading recycler at the MBTA. They collected 72,835 lbs. of recyclables in 2011 alone! If co-workers don’t bring waste to Linda, her standard response is, “I’ll go get it.” She means business too when it comes to recycling and she understands the positive effect it has on the environment. Linda is organized, committed, and truly cares —and it shows!

As Tom Daly says, “Without facility support and people like Linda taking the time and initiative, we would not have a recycling program.”