May Recycling Know No’s: Pour Off the Liquids, a Sustainable Habit Worth Adopting 

May 1, 2024

By Liz Antanavica, DPW Trash & Recycling Administrator

In our quest for sustainability, every small action counts. One such often-overlooked habit is pouring off liquids before recycling containers or discarding food packaging. While it may seem insignificant, this simple act has real environmental benefits and contributes to a cleaner recycling stream.

When liquids are left in containers before recycling, they can contaminate other materials, rendering them unrecyclable. This contamination can occur during collection, sorting, and processing of recyclables, leading to additional costs and resources being spent on sorting and cleaning materials. 

In worst-case scenarios, contaminated materials that can no longer be reused may even end up in the trash, defeating the purpose of recycling.

Liquids also contribute to the overall weight of the Town’s trash and recycling. By pouring off the liquids, you’ll help save tax dollars that would otherwise be spent on recycling processing or trash disposal fees. Bedford Public Schools have begun pouring off the liquids during lunchtime, including half-drunk milk cartons or uneaten tomato soup. A recent cafeteria waste audit showed that approximately 42 pounds of liquids per day at the Lane School are poured off.

  • Environmental Impact: Pouring off liquids before recycling prevents contamination, ensuring cleaner recyclables and a more efficient recycling process.
  • Cost Savings: The Town is charged for both recycling processing and trash disposal by weight. Emptying food containers of residues means they weigh less, translating to lower waste disposal and processing fees at waste management facilities.
  • Odor and Pest Prevention: Eliminating food residues in containers minimizes odors and deters pests, creating a more hygienic environment in your home and community.
  • Empowerment: Every drop poured off is a tangible action toward a cleaner, greener future, empowering you to make a positive impact on the planet and your wallet.

Adopting the habit of pouring off liquids and emptying food containers before recycling or disposal is a simple yet effective way to enhance our contribution to sustainable practices. It not only ensures the integrity of the recycling process, but also reduces the environmental impact of waste disposal. By making conscious choices in our daily routines, we can collectively work towards a cleaner and greener future for generations to come.

Let’s embrace this simple, yet impactful habit and take a stand for sustainability, knowing that together, our small actions can create a ripple effect of positive change.

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