Advanced Recycling

recycling bins

Single stream recyclables from SSRC towns are prepared for sale at the Waste Management Avon Plant.  Workers and machines sort it into individual materials, bale it and transfer it to manufacturers to be made into new products.In our drop-off towns, residents do some of the sorting, but many of the same rules apply.

Items that don’t belong make it harder, and even dangerous, to sort into useful feedstock.  This devalues the good material, and drives costs up.

Make sure what goes in the bin doesn't end up in the landfill

  • DRY – Wet materials stick to each other and can’t be properly sorted. Glass shards stuck to paper is especially troublesome.
  • CLEAN – Dirty material mucks up everything around it, is sticky, and can stink up the whole load.  Most material travels a distance, sometimes in extreme heat. Think ketchup. And hungry critters.
    • Good: empty and rinse
    • Better: scrape out residue with spatula, wash, dry
    • Best: remove label and neck rings
  • LOOSE, SINGLE, EASILY SEPARABLE – Paper can’t be made from plastic.  Plastic can’t be made from metal.  Items that have multiple materials stuck together can’t be made into a new product. End users can deal with tape, windows and labels, but they can’t pull cardboard out of overwrap, foam packing out of boxes, or embedded plastic from a paper cup.
  • SIZE MATTERS – tiny = trash. Containers smaller than 3 oz. often fall through the first screen with the glass. Think prescription and nip bottles.  Foam packing and shredded paper get into everything.
    • replace plastic caps on bottles
  • SHAPE MATTERS – 3D = bottles, cans, containers.  Flattened containers may sort with the paper.
    • Ball up aluminum foil loosely. Put lids on tubs.
  • ONLY CERTAIN PLASTICS ARE MARKETABLE – Don’t let the misleading recycling symbol on plastics fool you
    • RIGID PLASTIC CONTAINERS #1,2, and 5 CAN BE RECYCLED -Bottles, tubs, clear cups and yogurt-type containers are the ONLY plastics with value in the single stream.
      • SOFT PLASTICS (tubes, bags, pouches etc) cannot currently be sorted with containers.  Many bags and wraps can be brought to drop offs at supermarkets and department stores.
      • CONTAINERS MARKED #3, 4, 6 and 7 ARE NOT MARKETABLE -Non-containers, black plastic, and plastics #3,4,6 and 7 may be trashed after a long detour through the sorting plant. 
    • NO TANGLERS – Plastic bags, metal hangers, ribbons, string lights… get tangled in the sorting equipment, creating hazards and causing costly shutdowns.

Other Resources

RecycleSmart Recycling Guide
Search for Specific Materials

Recycling A-Z
A list of many materials and local outlets to recycle them

Recycling Road Map
Learn what happens to your cans, bottles, and paper after you set them curbside or take them to your local transfer station.

“New Month’s Resolutions”
Cut Your Carbon Footprint

Massachusetts Universal Recycling List

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