OP-ED: Recycle Smart – Tackling the Issue of Contamination Together

FRAMINGHAM – The City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) is embarking on a comprehensive recycling outreach and education awareness campaign focused on helping residents become better curbside recyclers.

Each residential dwelling serviced by DPW’s trash program is also entitled to curbside recycling pickup. As it relates to recycling, contamination has become an issue for the City.

In short, recycling contamination is anything that is not accepted in your
recycling cart.

Recycling contamination levels in the City have increased, due in large part to foreign markets setting stricter standards on how much contaminated material they are willing to accept.

As a result, it now costs more to dispose of recyclable materials. With this in mind, how can we become better recyclers?

Framingham DPW has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to inform and educate City residents on how to reduce contamination in their recycling carts.

Residents are encouraged to “Recycle Smart” by following these best practices:

What can be recycled?

The five main recyclable items are paper, plastic, glass, aluminum/metal, and cardboard.

Items must be clean, dry, and empty before making their way into the cart.

Feel free to recycle as much clean steel and aluminum cans as you like. Empty glass bottles and jars can be recycled, but do not put pane or plate glass in your cart.

Recycle your plastic water, milk, food, and detergent containers.

Recycle newspaper, magazines, envelopes (with or without windows), and junk mail.

Finally, clean cardboard belongs in your cart; however, do not recycle pizza boxes–they contain food and grease debris.

When in doubt, leave it out.

What cannot be recycled?

Many items you may think belong in your recycling cart do not. Just because an item has a printed recycling symbol does not mean the City accepts it through the curbside recycling program.

One of the most common items found in recycling carts that are not recyclable are thin- film plastic bags and wraps, such as ones encasing 24 packs of bottled water. The machines sorting recyclable materials easily catch these items and become tangled, causing equipment malfunctions. Recycle these items by bringing them to your grocer.

Leave recyclable items loose in your cart.

Do not place them in paper or plastic bags, as the recycling sorter treats bagged items as trash.

Other commonly found non-recyclable items include:

 Garbage
 Paper towels, plates, tissues
 Yard and leaf waste
 Styrofoam
 Clothing
 Electronics
 Rope, wire, clothes hangers
 Items that are not reasonably clean

Empty food containers and give them a quick rinse—if it will take a great deal of water and effort to clean, place it in the trash to avoid contaminating other recyclables.

Where can you learn more?

Residents can visit www.RecycleSmartMA.org, which features a tool called the Recyclopedia, which allows you to search for items and learn how to dispose of them properly. Some items in the Recyclopedia will refer you to your local recycler because accepted items can vary from community to community, in which case you can call the City’s Sanitation Division at 508-532- 6001.

Thank you for your help in tackling this important environmental issue.

Stephen Sarnosky, Municipal Recycling Coordinator
Framingham Department of Public Works

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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