Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility Superintendent Gordon Martin has spent the past 37 years as the key figure in town responsible for maximizing dump revenues received, and minimizing dump costs incurred by the town through the disposal of solid waste and the sale of recycled materials and compost.
And have he and his team ever maximized revenues, to the tune of $619,000 in 2015 alone, all turned over to the general fund. That’s not chump change, but here’s the really big number — $11 million dollars over the past 15 years. That’s right, and it all began on Martin’s watch back in 1996, when voters said yes to funding that allowed the RDF to start baling operations. That decision put the power in the hands of the many, meaning in part that residents seriously stepped up efforts to separate recyclables from trash so that the town could then bale and store materials.
From there, Martin would sit in his lair and wait for the market to bear numbers like $105 per ton for cardboard and $75 per ton for newspaper. When he liked the price he could get for a particular material, he’d pounce, and exchange the cardboard he had squirreled away for the highest price a bidder in China or Mexico or elsewhere was willing to pay. It’s the old buy low, sell high strategy, and in this way, millions have been made.
Which begs the question, why don’t all towns do this? Martin cannot fathom it. He’s been invited to sanitation departments all over the state to talk about Wellesley’s recycling program, and inevitably, his gospel of separating materials for high sales and maximum positive environmental impact is dismissed as unworkable in other towns. Sometimes officials cite a lack of space. Other times they point to the sloth of their residents, who apparently would rather worship the false idol of single-stream recycling, even knowing that a full 22% of their recycling prayers go unanswered through waste when using such a system.
Now we will have to do without Martin and just be thankful that he can’t take those millions with him on his next adventure (real estate, he’s thinking). Martin’s tenure with the town ends next month, and Wellesley must scramble to find someone just like him. Here’s the job description:
Superintendent of Recycling and Disposal Facility
Town of Wellesley
Under the general guidance of the Director of Public Works, the Superintendent of the Recycling and Disposal Division and the Recycling and Disposal Facility (RDF) manages all aspects of the town of Wellesley’s solid waste disposal, reuse, recycling, composting and other services to the residents and businesses of the town. The Superintendent is responsible for maximizing the revenues received, and minimizing the costs incurred by the town through the disposal of solid waste and the sale of recycled materials and compost. The Superintendent ensures the division’s compliance with all applicable federal, state, local and departmental laws, regulations, policies and procedures. Minimum requirements include a bachelor’s degree in civil or environmental engineering, business administration or equivalent. Two years experience, five preferred, of solid waste management or equivalent. Two years of supervisory and budgeting experience. Knowledge of recyclable materials markets, Commonwealth of Massachusetts solid waste regulations and operation and maintenance of vehicles and equipment. Excellent oral and written communications skills are a must along with a valid state driver’s license. Hiring range is $71,350-$109,850, DOQ. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to the Human Resources Department, 525 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482 or email as a Word document or PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 22.
That’s a big recycling bin to fill. If this job description had been in place when Martin sought the Superintendent title, he wouldn’t have stood a chance. Bachelor’s degree in engineering? Nope. How about business adminstration? Nope. Valid driver’s license? Probably. I didn’t ask.
Instead, Martin went to the school of common sense, work ethic, enthusiasm, and vision, and Wellesley and its general fund have been all the richer for it. Farewell, Gordon Martin, and thanks for all your years of helping us recycle, reuse, reduce, and repurpose and above all, for watching the market like a hawk.
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