Do you find yourself pondering over your recycle bin, wondering if the things you used to throw in without a thought are still “legal”? Clamshell containers? Colored plastic? Pill bottles? Yogurt containers? Toys? Plant pots? It isn’t surprising that those of us who have been recycling for many years are now confused about what can and can’t be put in the bin. With the recent refusal of China to accept much of the world’s recycling and the corresponding steep decline in value of recycled materials, municipalities have had to swiftly adapt to what their local materials recovery facility is still willing to accept under the stringent new conditions for acceptance. What used to be single stream “out of sight, out of mind” is now a thoughtful and sometimes challenging process. 

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YES, RECYCLE! Plastic, Poland Spring-type water bottles can be recycled. The cap can be recycled too, provided it is attached to the bottle. Loose caps (and other items smaller than 2 inch x 2 inch x 2 inch) can get caught and halt the recycling stream. Better yet, try to avoid buying water in plastic bottles. Carry a refillable bottle instead.

Recycling correctly means big savings for the town. Incorrect or “contaminated” items are rejected at the recycling plant and sent to the trash stream, with consequent additional charges to the town. While all our trash is incinerated in Massachusetts, this may not go on forever, as the incinerators are at capacity and companies may resort to trucking materials to landfills out of state, creating problems elsewhere. As global citizens, we need to take responsibility for our consumption and the waste we generate.

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COMPOST! Pizza boxes. Compost the “liner” if it has one, and recycle clean cardboard. If it’s all greasy, the whole box can be put in the compost.

Consequently, the Manchester Sustainability Committee is partnering with the Cricket to publish a guide on recycling do’s and don’ts. Each week, we will picture an item or two with its status as recyclable, compostable or trash. All of this will lead up to the Sustainability Fair at the Community Center on Saturday, November 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will feature lots of ideas on recycling and composting as well as creative ways to reduce our carbon footprint.