Framingham Recycles: The Cost of Recycling

Editor’s Note: This is a weekly column by the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Framingham. Residents can submit questions to Recycling Coordinator Stephen Sarnosky via SOURCE at


FRAMINGHAM – When it comes to recycling, many people have been left with the impression that the disposal of recycling is free.

The fact is, recycling is really another form of refuse that has a value placed
on it.

Unlike, some types of trash, such as food debris and items that cannot be recycled, items like aluminum and cardboard create a sustainable recycling stream.

Nonetheless, there are costs associated with recycling disposal.

Over the past year, the cost of recyclable materials collected and disposed of from municipalities around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Nation has increased substantially.

These increases are due in part from China imposing strict cleanliness standards on materials received.

To understand why our City pays what it does to dispose of materials
collected, we must look at the composition of the recyclables received by the recycling processor.

In Framingham’s case, the processor is E.L. Harvey of Westborough.

When an automated recycling vehicle drops its material on the processor’s tipping floor, the contents are assessed, on average, to have a certain material composition. Each material item, i.e. cardboard, paper, glass, metal, plastics, and residue is given a commodity value.

The commodity’s value will then result in a per ton revenue or cost. When all the commodity values are totaled, a positive, negative or flat number will be the result.

In this regard, some commodities are valued more than others such as cardboard, steel and aluminum cans, and some plastics.

Other commodities are given a negative value such as glass.

Residue, i.e. garbage, plastic bags, Styrofoam or anything else that’s not accepted by the processor is included, and will always be given a negative value.

Residue (contamination) can be quite high in some cases and may result in additional processing costs. The cost, of course, will be passed onto the municipality.

The processor charges a fixed materials fee. The revenue from materials collected is subtracted from the processing fee and the net result is a rebate or charge to the City per ton of material.

So please do your part in keeping the cost of recycling down by “Recycling Right” and keeping “residue” out of the recycling stream.

Recycling Questions and Answers

I was recently asked a question about how to recycle mattresses. Mattresses are highly recyclable due to the material content contained within. Mattresses contain metal, fabric, and textiles and can be turned back into all sorts of products.

To recycle a mattress or box spring in Framingham, please visit the DPW Sanitation Department’s website and look for the bulky waste section. The fee is $20 plus a $5 pickup fee.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: Phone: 508-315-7176

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