Recycling Know-No’s ~ New Year, New Waste Habits

~ Submitted by Liz Antanavica

How often have you set a resolution that’s been challenging to stick to?

This year, make it easy on yourself-resolve to go back to the basics – trash & recycling basics! 


We like to recycle. It makes us feel like we’re doing our part. But unfortunately, well-intentioned people often engage in “wishcycling” or mistakenly throw things in the blue cart thinking that it’s accepted for single-stream recycling. Wishcycling lowers the value of the end product, drives up costs, and can even be a safety hazard. Recycling is a commodity system. The end goal is valuable resources for manufacturing. Only certain materials have value in that system. 

So, what are the basics? Metal cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs, plus paper and cardboard. Items should be clean, dry, and loose. Don’t bag your recyclables. That’s it. Really, that’s it. 

The state has developed a mobile-friendly website, Recycle Smart MA, to help clear up recycling confusion state-wide. Contrary to popular belief, all single-stream recycling is processed at the state’s five recycling facilities or MRFs (pronounced Murph) and they all use the same playbook. If it’s not listed on, it doesn’t belong in the curbside recycling bin. 

So the next time you wonder if your plastic bags (nope), electronic kids’ toys (no, thank you), or styrofoam (definitely not) belong in the recycle cart, remember the basics or check Recycle Smart MA.


Food waste accounts for almost 40% of a typical family’s household trash. Diverting this material out of the waste stream reduces our environmental footprint. 

Getting started with composting is easy! Do it yourself with a low-cost backyard bin, available at the DPW for $45. Countertop collection containers for food scraps are also available. If you don’t have the space or desire to compost yourself, sign up for curbside service from Black Earth Compost at

Trash and More Trash

Bedford’s trash program entitles each residential unit to one 48-gallon brown trash cart with the lid fully closed. Recycle or compost all that you can to reduce the amount of trash you generate. However, we recently have received several calls about what to do with extra trash. 

For residents who only occasionally have excess trash, official blue overflow trash bags are available to purchase at Moison’s ACE Hardware, Whole Foods, and Stop & Shop.

Residents who find they generate more than two overflow bags per week should consider requesting an additional trash cart for a yearly fee. Applications for additional black trash carts can be found on the DPW website. 

Still have questions? Contact Liz Antanavica, Bedford’s Refuse & Recycling Administrator at (781)275-7605.

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