EDITORIAL: Making sense of recycling

EDITORIAL: Making sense of recycling

Cities and towns are getting pickier about what residents put in their recycling bins, and this seems to be a trend, not a fad.

Much of the plastic that’s recycled in this country is shipped overseas, and some of the countries that used to welcome it, such as China and Malaysia, are no longer accepting it.

At the same time, municipalities want to avoid paying more to have material taken away if it’s not clean enough; that is, if garbage and other unrecyclable material is mixed in.

A representative from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection gave a presentation recently at the Meriden Public Library on what residents should and shouldn’t put in the recycling bin.

“We are required to implement the DEEP’s ‘What’s In, What’s Out,’ said Meriden Public Works Director Howard Weissberg. “The reality is for us not to pay potential fines, we have to ensure residents are following the rules.”

Southington has considered writing a new ordinance for recycling, while Meriden is looking at imposing fines for repeated instances of unrecyclable materials being left in recycling bins; residents would get three warnings before receiving a $100 fine per violation.

But officials in both towns hope that educating the public about what’s in and what’s out will encourage residents to comply with the rules. 

Because there often is confusion over what can and cannot be recycled — and because municipalities send their recycling to various regional resource recovery agencies that have had different rules for what can be recycled — the state DEEP has developed a list for all towns. (Please see below. More information at www.recyclect.com.)

“Every town was telling its residents to put in different things,” said Chris Nelson, DEEP supervising environmental analyst. “We wanted to harmonize things town to town. That’s what’s reflected in the current ‘What’s In, What’s Out.’”


WHAT’S IN: PAPER: Cardboard & boxboard; food & beverage cartons; junk mail; magazines & newspaper inserts; newsprint; office paper; pizza boxes. GLASS: Beverage bottles & jars; food bottles & jars. METAL: Some aerosol containers (food grade only); aluminum foil; cans & bottles; foil containers; metal lids from cans & bottles. PLASTIC: Plastic bottles (with or without caps attached); plastic containers, tubs & lids; plastic one-use cups (no lids, no straws).

WHAT’S OUT: PAPER: Gift wrap & gift bags; ice cream containers; paper cups (hot & cold); shredded paper; take-out food containers; tissue paper. GLASS: Ceramic mugs & plates; drinking glasses. METAL: Some aerosol containers (deodorizers, cleaners, pesticides, etc.); foil tops from yogurt containers; paint cans; pots & pans; small pieces of scrap metal; spiral wound containers. PLASTIC: Loose bottle caps; plastic bags & wrap; plastic plates, bowls & utensils; prescription bottles; single-use coffee containers; Styrofoam cups, containers; & packaging peanuts; water filters.