Newton To Up Its Recycling Game: Mayor Fuller –

Politics & Government

Some four years ago, Newton embarked on an educational campaign to encourage clean recycling. It’s at it again.

NEWTON, MA — In an effort to make sure Newton residents are recycling correctly, Newton begins an educational campaign this week.

Volunteers will begin placing decals designed by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s “Recycle Smart” program on bins Thursday to help remind people about which materials should go into the containers.

And not everything is recyclable, even if it has a recycle symbol on it.

Plastic bags and plastic utensils, black plastic takeout food trays, food or beverage cartons, Styrofoam, shredded paper, wood, clothing and textiles, tissues and napkins, and medicine bottles are all items that are not permitted in Newton recycling.

Tissues, and napkins are generally acceptable compost items, and there’s a separate textile recycling at the city’s recovery center for clothing or old sheets and bedding.

The city also is using volunteers to collect data to better understand how the residents are using the recycling services and how they can improve and make decisions about the future of the collection services, Fuller said.

The city began asking residents in 2018 to make sure to clean up its recycling, Fuller said in a statement.

“The City of Newton went from having 18% of our recycling contaminated to 9% after a robust education campaign that included inspectors checking recycling bins,” Fuller said in the statement.

If Newton’s recycling is more than 10 percent contaminated the city will be fined, according to its contract with Waste Management based in Woburn. But since that campaign, Fuller said, Newton has not paid fines for contaminated recycling since early 2019.

Newton Sustainable Materials Management Division Director Waneta Trabert said this is a follow up effort to the work started in 2018.

Although the city hasn’t received indication from its waste hauler that the recycling contamination is worse, they don’t want too much time to pass by between our education initiatives, she said.

“This project was originally intended to happen in 2019, but a key staff person left in the spring and coordination was put on hold,” Trabert said. “Then we were poised to do it last year, and it needed to be postponed again due to the pandemic.”

The project was slated to begin June 14, but the stickers were delayed, so it will begin Thursday and is set to last through mid-October, weather permitting.

The city has 25 people set to check bins from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekday mornings.

“The observational data that will be documented include how full each trash and recycling cart are, whether recyclables are visible in the trash, the degree of contamination in the recycling, and the condition of each cart,” Trabert said. “This data will help us better understand how these services are functioning currently and how we can improve, with an emphasis on advancing waste reduction efforts. Waste reduction is important for the environment, and also because disposal costs are expected to continue to increase significantly in the next 10 years. “

Those interested in volunteering should fill out this , according to the city.