Framingham Recycles: Packing A Zero-Waste Lunch Box

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


By Stephen Sarnosky

FRAMINGHAM – When it comes to school recycling, the Framingham Department of Public Works meets with elementary school students during the school year to share a comprehensive understanding of how and what to recycle.

As the school year is just beginning, now is the time to think about how to incorporate recycling into your daily lifestyle. Starting with lunch recycling…..

According to, “on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. 

That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-
size elementary school.”

Below are some tips on how to pack a waste-free lunch and save money:
1) Reduce Packaging Waste & Invest in Reusable Lunch Containers

  • Purchase reusable multi-compartment food containers – By owning reusable containers you will no longer need to use small plastic bags, tin foil, or plastic wrap to pack your lunch.
  • Pack your lunch in a lunch box or tote instead of a disposable single-use bag
  • Own a set of reusable cutlery – to avoid throwing away plastic utensils
  • Prepare food portions small enough, so cutlery is not needed.
  • Use a re-usable drink/water container

2) Know What Can Be Recycled

  • Single-use plastic water bottles, glass juice bottles, and aluminum/metal cans
  • Paper items, such as brown paper bags and cereal boxes
  • Plastic containers, such as yogurt and Jello cups
    Always remember to clean your recyclables!

3) Know What Cannot Be Recycled– These items should be thrown away in the refuse container

  • Leftover food waste
  • Juice and milk cartons
  • Juice pouches
  • Single-use plastic sandwich bags
  • Snack wrappers and chip bags
  • Plastic straws
  • Paper napkins
  • Styrofoam trays, cups and plates
  • Single-use plastic cutlery

When it comes to packing a zero-waste lunchbox, the choice is clear. Please do your best for a healthy environment.

Recycling Q&A

A reader asked a follow-up question regarding batteries from my last week’s article: “We are constantly using batteries. I know the lithium and round batteries can be dropped off, but what about all other batteries?”

Thank you for your question. You are correct in saying that the Recycling Drop Center will take all types of batteries with the exception of alkaline single-use batteries.

Alkaline single-use batteries can be thrown in in refuse cart.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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