Recycling Know-No’s: Compost ~ If in Doubt, Take it Out!


A large rock was included in a load of yard waste intended for the compost center.

There is a need to clear up some confusion of what goes in the compost pile at the Compost Center.

A recent “audit” of the pile turned up some interesting, non-compostable items. In particular, a piece of rubber hose, plastic bags, rope, a take-out container, roofing shingles and rocks, big rocks.

Odd bits included in compost delivered to Bedford’s Compost Center

Ed McGrath, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator, says that in the past he’s found nip bottles and a leaf bag filled with empty beer cans.

This year, McGrath said he’s pulled out plastic flower pots, pieces of Styrofoam, remnants of plastic bags, beverage cups, a Freeze Pop wrapper, potato chip bags, a child’s sandbox toy, and painted lumber.

“The compost pile is for organic materials like grass clippings, pine needles, and other garden waste.,

“The rule of thumb on sticks is anything less than an inch in diameter can go in the compost pile. Any branch larger than that should go in the brush pile.”

For the most part, McGrath sees few plastics bags. He said most residents know they can use the large paper leaf bags.

“The paper bags actually help the composting process,” McGrath said. “The plastic bags become brittle and break apart when we turn the piles.

The Compost Center is located at 108 Carlisle road and is open to Bedford residents only. It is open on selective Wednesdays (8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and selective Saturdays (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.). The DPW mailed the 2019 schedule to all residents in March, and it is available on the DPW’s website,, click on 2019 Compost Center Collection.

ICYMI: Links to earlier columns

  1. Don’t Bag Recyclables
  2. Batteries
  3. Cartons
  4. Pizza Boxes
  5. Styrofoam
  6. Plastics
  7. Recyclopedia
  8. Rigid Plastic Blister Paks
  9. Found in the Bins
  10. Plastic Flower Pots

Why Focus on Recycling?

Recycling is good.  It helps the environment, helps the town, and makes you feel you’re doing your part.  That being said, not all things are easy to recycle, no matter what you may think.  Putting your Styrofoam coffee cup or plastic plant pot in the bin might feel right, but is actually detrimental and costly to us in Bedford.  There are other things that fall into the category of “should” be recycled, but without understanding what happens “downstream,” your wishful thinking could end up causing more trouble.  You may not have been aware that all recycled material gets sorted, and one of the most cost-effective sorts happens at your bin. Understanding what happens after your recycling bucket has been collected can help make that downstream work easier.  Accordingly, we are embarking on a new series that hopefully will answer the “whys “ and “whats” of recycling here in Bedford.

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