BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — If it’s true that one person’s trash represents another’s treasure, Molly Ettenborough is emerging as a valuable broker between households getting rid of unwanted material and the city benefiting from the disposal.
Ettenborough is the city’s energy and recycling coordinator. She has several programs ready to roll out this fall, and one of her goals is to save and/or generate money while supporting recycling, clean energy and a greater awareness of a smaller human footprint.
“We have a lot going on this fall, and we try to develop new initiatives, especially if they save money,” said Ettenborough, who works in the city’s Health Department.
“This community has a high level of consciousness regarding a cleaner environment and we have received good support.”
A graduate of Boston University (’82) in environmental education, Ettenborough worked for Joe Kennedy’s Citizens Energy for almost two decades before starting with the city in 2007.
Perhaps because Citizens Energy evolved as an entrepreneurial enterprise, Ettenborough’s frame of reference is one that looks to generate dollars as well as clean curbsides.
Ettenborough was a key player in altering the manner in which trash is collected here, and the community saves $40,000 to $80,000 per year by producing less “trash” and more recyclable matter.
She championed the city’s solar energy net-metering project, and as a result the city realizes a savings of about $45,000 per year on municipal energy costs.
And she helped launch a city-state program to encourage solar panels, resulting in 48 homes and businesses being equipped and producing an eventual savings.
Ettenborough has also introduced an eRecyle program that has tripled the number of electronics and machines collected. The city receives revenue from the copper and metal it sells.
The program enables adults with disabilities to learn skills in the recycling field.
“This project was a win-win for everyone involved,” said Mayor Donna Holaday, in a statement.
“We have reduced our disposal costs, offered a convenient service and it has helped find meaningful employment for these young adults.”
Holaday, at public events, has referred to Ettenborough as one of the city’s most effective employees.
Ettenborough has also developed a program to recycle Styrofoam, and city officials estimate that about 23 trailer truckloads of the substance have been carted to recycling rather than to incinerators.
More efforts are in the offing.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, the municipal transfer station she manages will host a collection of hazardous waste (oil paint, pesticides, chemicals) from residents of three towns: Newburyport, West Newbury and Merrimac. It runs from 8 a.m. to noon on the grounds of the Department of Public Services at 16A Perry Way.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, Ettenborough’s department will facilitate a Community Energy Strategies Program at 7 p.m. at City Hall, to bring together citizens with different views on how the community can identify clean-energy strategies.
And this fall her team will continue to recycle unused electronics devices (TV sets, computers) that residents dispose of in incredible numbers.
Ettenborough’s department’s success at training young people and those with disabilities has resulted in a commendation from the Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport.
The manager of green has also received citations from the state Senate and the House of Representatives.
“We’ve pursued grant opportunities, and we’ve partnered with state agencies to help with our projects,” said Ettenborough.
“Also, cooperation among all departments at City Hall has been good, so we are able to draw on the assets of other departments (such as the Department of Public Services) with our projects.”