Recycling Know No’s ~ Cardboard/Plastic Bags/Bottles & Cans

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All this online shopping is making it challenging to fit all the cardboard boxes in the recycling cart. Then there are these plastic bags that we used to be able to recycle at the grocery or department stores. And what about all these redeemable beverage containers that are piling up?

The Department of Public Works has a solution for the cardboard challenge and some answers about plastic bags and the redeemable bottles and cans.

Corrugated Cardboard

To relieve Bedford residents of the chore of cutting up their cardboard boxes so they’ll fit in their recycling carts, the DPW has set up three drop-off locations where residents can bring their flattened boxes for recycling

  • At 314 Great Road, the DPW building, there are two containers in the rear of the building.
  • The container at Bedford High School is located by the loading dock near the parking lot entrance off Liljegren Way.
  • The third container is at the Compost Center on 108 Carlisle Road and is available when the Compost Center is open.

Residents should remove all packing material like Styrofoam and plastic bags, and flatten the boxes.

“These containers are for corrugated cardboard only and it’s important that people only put corrugated cardboard in the containers,” said Ed McGrath, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator. “Packing materials and other types of paper products like cereal boxes contaminate the load and should go in the trash.”

The significance of making sure only cardboard is placed in the containers is money.

“In April, the town earned $85 a ton for cardboard recycling and paid $50 a ton for mixed paper recycling,” explained McGrath. “Bedford generated about 21 tons of cardboard that month. If those loads were treated as mixed paper, it would have cost the town more than $1,000.”

Plastic Bag Recycling

With the Commonwealth’s ban on reusable bags, people are accumulating plastic bags and asking how they can recycle them.

Plastic Bags

The DPW did some research and learned that Stop & Shop, Market Basket, Whole Foods, and Ocean State Job Lot do not have a date when they will resume collection. The stores are awaiting guidance from the CDC and state government. Reportedly, Wegman’s is collecting plastic bags.

McGrath reminds residents that plastic bags and similar products (e.g. case wraps, etc.) do not go in the recycling cart. No sorting facility accepts plastic bags as they can’t be mechanically sorted and get caught in the equipment.

“If you don’t want to wait until the stores begin to accept plastic bags, your option is to throw them away in the trash,” McGrath said.

Bottle & Can Redemption

As part of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan, the state announced it was resuming enforcement of the bottle bill at retailers that use reverse vending machines on June 5 and at retailers accepting redeemable containers over the counter on June 16. The stores can limit customers to 120 containers (5 cases). Residents with more than this amount can go to a registered redemption center.

According to the MADEP website, the closest bottle redemption centers to Bedford are in Burlington (Old Towne Liquors, 286 Cambridge Street), Waltham (131 Linden Street), and Lowell (Lowell Bottle & Can, 143 Tanner Street and Lowell Redemption, 31 Westford Street).


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