Recycling Know-Nos: How to Get Rid of a Toilet? and Other DIY Project Conundrums

April 3, 2023

Submitted by Liz Antanavica, Trash & Recycling Administrator

The flip has switched over at the Bedford DPW. It’s clear from the questions coming in by phone and the searches being run on the new Waste Wizard tool that Spring Cleaning is well under way. Last month, we touched on common household items that could be donated or reused. But what about stuff that’s really just trash, like an old toilet? Where does that go? 

If you are planning your next home DIY project, there are some things you should know about what to do with the “construction debris”. Under State Law, Construction and Demolition debris (or C&D waste) are required to be separated out of the trash. This is a part of the same Waste Disposal Ban that now requires mattresses and textiles be recycled. If you are interested in learning more about Massachusetts Construction and Demolition Waste Bans, MassDEP has put together a fact sheet that can be found here. Further, Bedford’s trash materials are sent to Covanta Energy, a waste-to-energy incinerator in Haverhill, MA. This facility does not accept C&D waste, therefore materials such as toilets, sinks, bathtubs, wood waste/pallets, asphalt or cement are prohibited from Bedford’s residential trash program. This material is also not acceptable in the recycling carts, even if it’s metal or plastic. 

Okay, but now what? I still have this toilet. If using a contractor, ask that they handle the waste materials. For most homeowners working on DIY projects, a dumpster bag or junk removal service is the way to go. These companies handle the disposal of C&D in compliance with state law. A quick Google Search can identify local businesses offering such services, a few options are listed below. 

There is an emerging trend in Massachusetts, called Deconstruction, that seeks to reduce the waste sent to disposal and retain some of the more valuable renovation materials for reuse. Massachusetts has a Waste Disposal problem and the requirement that C&D Waste be separated is one small part of the solution. If possible, residents are encouraged to donate usable building materials to reuse organizations. Thank you to RecyclingWorks MA for the following descriptions: 

  • The Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources, is a nonprofit storefront, and online e-store, for building materials and environmental products, located in Roxbury, MA. They accept donations of new and “gently used” supplies for resale to their co-op members and the general public, but offer reduced pricing for low income customers and other nonprofits. 
  • EcoBuilding Bargains, a nonprofit store and online e-store located in Springfield, MA. It sells used and surplus building materials and green, weatherization, and energy and resource conservation  products.
  • ReStores by Habitat for Humanity are located around the state and provide an income source for the Habitat for Humanity community building projects. ReStores obtain surplus appliance donations from manufacturers as well as other donated building materials, fixtures, and antiques.

For answers to even more “how do I get rid of…” questions, consult the new Waste Wizard tool on the Town website. There you’ll find disposal help for over 700 materials. Residents can also print a collection calendar, set an email reminder for trash day, report a missed pick and coming soon – online Bulky item scheduling! 

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Contact The Bedford Citizen: [email protected] or 781-430-8837

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