Selectmen Give Go-Ahead to Bedford’s Recycling Contract Negotiations

By Dot Bergin

At their October 15 meeting, the Selectmen heard recommendations from Department of Public Works Director David Manugian, and the department’s Recycling Coordinator Ed McGrath, for moving to automated pickup of recycled materials. Residents would receive a 48-gallon cart (the same size as the refuse carts already in use) and a second cart for free, on request.

Bedford’s current contract with Republic Services for refuse and recycling expires on June 30, 2019.  The Town is in talks with Republic and three other companies that have worked in the area. To date, the Town has received a proposal from Republic Services, which would like to keep the contract.  With approval from the Selectmen, Manugian will continue to talk with contractors and hopes to have a new contract in place by the end of 2018, customized to Bedford’s interests such as continuation of single day collection, which most residents favor. (As it happens, Monday is a particularly favorable day for collection, rather than later in the week.)

Advantages of automated pickup would be:

  • Ease of use-it’s easier to roll carts to the curb rather than to carry barrels and bins
  • Elimination of wind-blown paper and plastic bottles that escape from open recycling bins
  • Ease of single-stream recycling encourages wider participation

Changes in the market for recycled materials are driving much of the DPW’s investigation. The decline in the value of some recyclables and change in policy from countries such as China that have been heavy buyers of materials are having repercussions nationally, and in Bedford.

As Manugian and McGrath told the Selectmen, the three most valuable materials today are aluminum, cardboard, and metal.  Looking ahead, the goal is to identify the materials which are most profitable and which are most costly. As an example, Manugian described a glass crushing machine (which the state will give to a community without charge.) If glass, which now makes up 21 percent of Bedford’s recycling stream, could be separated from the recycling stream that would start to lift costs to a neutral position.  Crushed glass, or aggregate, can be used by municipalities to line drainage ditches or as a substrate under pavement in roadways. To put this in play would likely mean voluntary action on the part of residents, who would bring their glass to a collection center.

McGrath pointed out that cardboard is a valuable recyclable.  If residents have more cardboard than would fit in the 48-gallon cart, it might be possible to designate an area at the Carlisle Road DPW location for a collection point. This was just one idea that emerged in the discussion. The goal is to set up a mechanism to segregate materials and reduce costs.

Selectman Margot Fleischman asked about the collection of food waste for composting.  Manugian said, “We’re not there yet, on a town-wide plan,” but he is proposing a pilot program to collect food waste at the four schools, the Fire Department, and the Town Center for a start. In his report, he mentioned the efforts of Mothers Out Front who have promoted diverting food waste from the refuse stream.



Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: or 781-325-8606

Share your enthusiasm for this article!

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x