Trash and Recycling: Responses to Readers’ Questions and Comments

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Recycling bins, full and ready for pick-up.

Last week The Bedford Citizen published an article about Bedford’s new trash system.  Readers responded with questions that prompted further research into the recycling process.

Q: How are recycled containers processed

A: “Bedford’s recycling is collected and taken to the recycling facility in Hooksett, NH owned by the town’s contracted hauler (Allied Waste). The facility sorts the recyclables using a variety of technologies including magnets, blowers, electric eddy currents, optical sorting and manual sorting. The separated products are baled and shipped to multiple markets in the US and other countries.

The recycling companies are always seeking to expand their markets for materials so new materials are often added to the list of acceptable items.” ~ from Bedford’s Recycling Directory, found on the DPW website

Q:Can labels and metal rings be left on containers?

A: According to the Recycling Directory, there is no need to remove labels or metal rings.

Q:If you’re not sure about whether something can be recycled and you put it in the bin, does it increase processing costs or hurt the system?

A: The only thing that really messes up the system is plastic bags. They can be recycled at grocery stores. Almost anything else—if it is not an accepted item— will be removed at the processing center.

Q: Do you need to clean the containers before putting them in the recycling bin?

A: The DPW staff says that it is best to rinse containers but you do not have to thoroughly clean them before recycling.

Q:What about shelf-safe milk containers?
A: Yes, that type of container has recently been added to the list of allowable items.

Q:And Styrofoam trays on which meat, vegetables and fruits are often packaged?

A: No Styrofoam of any kind is allowable.

Q: How do we recycle batteries?

A: Button-style batteries for hearing aids, cameras, watches and the like contain mercury and mercury is a hazardous waste.

Other mercury-containing items include:

  • Old style thermometers with silver liquid.
  •  Older thermostats with a cylinder inside containing silver liquid.
  • All fluorescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

All of the above mercury items may be brought to the Department of Public Works, Monday – Friday, 8am-4pm.

Rechargeable batteries  (nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, lithium, lead-acid, small sealed lead-acid batteries) are considered hazardous. These batteries— as well as used cell phones— can be taken to a local Radio Shack, Staples, O’Connor’s Hardware, Home Depot or other retailer that is a member of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (visitwww.rbrc.orgfor details).

The town also contracts with Lexington to dispose of a multitude of household hazardous waste items. Pre-registration through the Bedford Board of Health is required prior to participation. For a complete list of accepted hazardous items, visit the Recycling Directory

Collection hours at the Lexington site on Hartwell Avenue are from 9AM to 2 PM on the following dates:

  • Saturday, July 21
  • Saturday, August 18
  • Sunday, September 16
  • Saturday, October 20
  • Saturday, November 10
  • Saturday, April 20, 2013
  • Saturday, May 18, 2013
  • Saturday, June 15, 2013

Household alkaline batteries (D-cell, C-cell, A, AA, AAA-cells) are now free of mercury and can be safely disposed of in the regular refuse.

Q:The town is hiring a 16-hour/week Recycling Coordinator.  How will this person make the cost of hiring her/him worthwhile?

Selectman Mike Rosenberg responds: “It is the hope that the position would at least pay for itself.Even though we’ve improved our recycling percentages, there’s still a long way to go. We also don’t have a lot of excess staff in terms of town employees—it’s the same staff numbers as 10 years ago so it’s not easy to add more duties to the existing staff.”

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10 years ago

“The DPW staff says that it is best to rinse containers but you do not have to thoroughly clean them before recycling.”

Question: Why is it best to rinse them?

10 years ago

Thank you, Luisa.

FYI, our original article about recycling includes a metrics text box in which you’ll find answers to your questions. Scroll down further on The Citizen’s page to access it.

Also, the hazardous waste collections dates are published in a flyer that is mailed to all residents. Or, you can look them up on the DPW’s website.

Luisa Granitto
Luisa Granitto
10 years ago

Great article. I’m printing out the Hartwell Ave. hazardous waste dates and posting it on my frig!
I’d also be curious to know how Bedford’s recycling has been going – whether there is more being recyled since we’ve started the new garbage pick-up system.

10 years ago

Respectfully to the Selectman, but it is impossible for this position to justify itself. We have existing staff responsible for answer the questions of the community, and just putting the Q&A listed here in the existing DPW mailing would be sufficient. Adding another person to town budget does not make sense: 16 hrs x probably $20/hr, plus the town paying the employer portion of payroll tax equals about ~$18k per year. If it was a one year assignment maybe it would make sense, but most likely this will be position, like most, that will run in perpetuity. When they hire someone they like, the position will be upgraded to more hours so that the person gets benefits. Then, all they need is to work ten years and they get pension and healthcare from Bedford forever. I am all for the recycling, but the hiring of a person to answer the above questions seems to be a make work luxury the community cannot afford nor should be obligated to fund. At the average, this means three homeowners in town will have all their property taxes go each year just to pay for this role.

susan mccombs
susan mccombs
10 years ago

Batteries have also been my big question…it just seems that where alkaline batteries have the ability to corrode they would not be a great asset to a dump or any area that might be used in the future for builing or even unused land. My fear is that eventually whatever is diposed of eventually has the ability to enter the water supply somewhere. I have bag fulls of batteries and just don’t feel right about putting them in the trash.
Thanks for the great article…
I also wonder what the actual responsibilities of the Recycling Coordinator will be? A great idea…but how and what will this person be doing?

10 years ago

Thanks for the information, especially about batteries (my biggest dilemma). And yes, I support hiring a Recycling Coordinator.

Janet Breslau
Janet Breslau
10 years ago

Thank you, Kim, for getting answers to so many of my questions! It’s reassuring to know that my efforts to recycle won’t be wasted because of a residue of sunscreen or my inadvertent inclusion of something non-recyclable. And I’m in favor of the Recycling Coordinator position – I agree with Mike Rosenberg that it should pay for itself via increased recycling.

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