Unacceptable Items are Contaminating the Recycling Stream


(Wakefield, MA) – The Wakefield Department of Public Works has been notified by the town’s recycling contractor that some residents have been putting materials in their recycling containers that cannot be recycled. These unacceptable items are contaminating the recycling stream and have become a serious issue, according to Wakefield DPW Director Richard Stinson.

Beginning on January 1st, 2018, any recycling receptacles containing plastic bags and other unacceptable items will not be picked up and an orange sticker will be placed on the container to notify residents of the infraction.

Among the unacceptable items that have been placed in recycling containers are cardboard containing food waste (pizza boxes, bakery item containers, etc.), wooden crates, paint cans, garden hoses, diapers, plastic gas cans, Christmas tree lights and plastic bags (grocery bags, sandwich and storage bags, dry cleaning bags and trash bags).

The recycling contractor has adopted a zero-tolerance policy regarding plastic bags, as they can cause the recycling processing equipment to jam. Plastic bags of any kind will not be accepted, and recyclables placed in plastic trash bags will not be collected at curbside.  Instead, plastic bags should be disposed of in the regular trash container, as should other unacceptable items, such as Styrofoam, metal garment (coat) hangers and other prohibited recycling items.

“In addition to unacceptable items such as plastic bags, many residents are including plastics that have been used to carry hazardous waste, like gasoline or oil products,” Director Stinson said. “These items, like food waste, contaminate the recycling. Our contractor has advised us that all recycling receptacles that contain unacceptable materials will be left at curbside.”

“We are asking residents who have Town trash and recycling pickup to help us, the environment and themselves, by recycling as much as possible and by not putting unacceptable items in the recycling containers. Contamination has become a very serious issue.”

The following is a list of some items which CAN NOT be placed in the curbside recycling receptacle:

  • Plastic bag (grocery bags, trash bags, drycleaner bags, sandwich and storage bags)
  • Styrofoam (white takeout containers, packing material, coffee cups)
  • Used tissues, paper towels, napkins
  • Waxed paper and waxed cardboard
  • Drinking glasses, window glass
  • Scrap metal
  • Tyvek envelopes
  • Plastic six-pack holders
  • Mirrors, ceramic or Pyrex
  • Lightbulbs
  • Plates
  • Vases
  • Hazardous or bio-hazardous waste
  • Stickers or address labels
  • Oil or oil products
  • Garment hangers

A booklet containing information about the Town of Wakefield refuse and recycling collection, as well as bulky item and white goods pickup, yard waste, CRTs and TVs is available at the DPW office or online at www.wakefield.ma.us/public-works. Any questions regarding recycling, refuse or other collections should be directed to the Wakefield DPW at 781-246-6301, extension 4120.