DRACUT — The town has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for Recycle Smart, a new statewide initiative seeking to eliminate contamination, especially plastic bags, from household recycling.
It also received a $14,400 recycling grant as part of a state program aimed to reduce waste and maximize reuse and recycling.
“What we’re doing is not only giving out money to communities to upgrade their recycling efforts in some way, but also asking them to partner with us as we try to take contamination out of the recycling stream,” MassDEP spokesman Edmund Coletta said.
Coletta said Dracut was one of 247 municipalities in Massachusetts to receive a grant as part of the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program. He said the money from the grant could be used in a number of ways including the issuance of new recycling bins, public outreach and education, and helping with recycling for municipal buildings and schools.
Town Manager Jim Duggan said one possibility from the town’s new grant is a pilot composting program for residents. As part of the potential program, anyone who would like to compost their food scraps would be given a pail to fill, and could later bring the scraps out to their curb to be hauled away along with trash and recyclable materials.
As for the Recycle Smart initiative, it’s meant to emphasize the importance of putting only those materials that processing plants are equipped to handle in recycling bins.
Items that are acceptable for recycling include: food and beverage cans; bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs; bottles and jars; and mixed paper, newspapers, magazines, and boxes, according to the Recycle Smart website. Before throwing these items into recycling bins, people are encouraged to empty and rinse food and beverage cans and glass bottles and jars, and empty and replace caps on bottles and jars, jugs and tubs. Cardboard should be flattened.
So what items are considered a definite no-no? Garbage, plastic bags or plastic wrap, food, liquids, clothing or linens, and tanglers such as hoses or wires.
“A lot of the material that gets recycled here used to get sold over to China and then reused in their particular machines,” Coletta said. “They started cracking down on the material coming over because of the contamination.”
Duggan said his administration supports the effort to educate homeowners across the Commonwealth about contaminated materials in their recyclables and what steps need to be taken in terms of cleaning them.
“I know everyone’s trying to be earth-friendly and recycle, but they need to be better educated on proper recycling protocol. You can’t just throw in a peanut butter jar with the peanut butter at the bottom of it,” Selectwoman Alison Hughes said. “It’s just better for the environment. If we recycle smarter, more of it gets reused.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.