Recycling Coordinator Ed McGrath Retiring at the End of June

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Ed McGrath

Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator Ed McGrath is retiring at the end of June.  The decision was somewhat motivated by the pandemic, which has forced most of us to think about our priorities.   Ed looked at what was going on, decided to take stock of what was important, and realized he wanted to spend more time with his friends and family.

McGrath became Bedford’s Recycling coordinator back in 2015.  He was the town’s second recycling coordinator. 

When he came to Bedford there were some good things underway, but not all were fully implemented or sustainable.   For instance,  the town had started a battery collection service that consisted of having a bin set up to collect batteries in the DPW building lobby.  At the time, the plan was to take the batteries across the street to Radio Shack.  It became clear that that plan was not sustainable, especially with the news that Radio Shack was going out of business.  Ed made a deal with a battery recycler for a more permanent solution.  He also organized the fluorescent light bulb collection in the same lobby.  This actually doesn’t cost the town anything since Covanta, the incinerator company, collects and disposes of the bulbs as a requirement to keep mercury out of the air. 

Paper shredding at a recycling event

 

Among Ed’s big accomplishments were the frequent recycling events.   At the time of his arrival, the town would have an occasional paper shredding event.  Ed thought that if you have people coming out for that, it would be more efficient to add other recyclables to the event. By adding scrap metal, computer monitors, rigid plastics—these collections became big events.  This past fall’s recycling event was the first town-wide event since the pandemic; it was so popular the DPW actually had to turn people away.   

More “headliner” events are in the works.  When you are looking for a specific category of items to recycle the logistics become much simpler. People are also motivated to take stock of what they may have in their own homes.  

The attribute that really stands out about Ed is his willingness to help.  There is a word in Yiddish that fits perfectly, “Mensch”.  Ed’s mission was to help people do the right thing.  He says that “recycling and trash pick up should not be a stress point in someone’s life.” 

He told The Citizen he would often get calls from senior citizens whose barrels got knocked over, or a missed collection,  or other things that were causing a lot of stress.  Ed’s solution would be to simply drive over to the house and pick the barrel up. 

He tells a story about a senior citizen who was having trouble getting her compost to the center.  “She called me up saying she had collected all her yard waste but had no way to get to the compost center,  I just got in my truck, picked it up, and drove the bags to the compost center.  She was so grateful.”  

Talking with Ed at the compost center I saw this in action.  People would come up with various items looking for direction about where to go.  More often than not Ed would just say “leave it here, I’ll take care of it.”

Ed also looks at his job as a recycling coach.  “People want to do the right thing,” he says.  Putting the wrong thing in the blue bin is an honest mistake.  Nobody is trying to get it wrong. Education is a big part of what he does.  He worked with The Bedford Citizen in creating the “Recycling Know-No’s” column, as well as other outreach efforts.  

We reached out to Town Manager Sarah Stanton and here’s what she had to say about Ed:  

“I would like to thank Ed McGrath for his years of excellent service to the Town of Bedford. Ed clearly has a passion for finding creative ways to move our refuse, recycling, and compost services forward. He has been a great partner in tackling challenges that all cities and towns have faced with recycling in recent years. I also have been very impressed with Ed’s cheerful accessibility to residents, who know they can call him if their house was skipped on a Monday or they have any other issues for him to solve.”

Ed was only here in Bedford for six years, but he made a big impact on how the town deals with its recycling issues.  His creative thinking and willingness to reach out and respond to residents’ needs and concerns have been greatly appreciated. 

We all wish Ed all the best as he heads into the future.

More on who Ed McGrath is:  Someone you Should Know ~ Ed McGrath, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator  The Bedford Citizen – April 22, 2021