Recycling Hints and Ideas

When China closed its market to imported plastic recyclables, this has had a cascading effect on the value of recyclables. Combined with the relatively underdeveloped U.S. recycling infrastructure, this has depressed demand for plastics recyclables increase the net cost of recycling for the Town of Westford.  Westford continues to offer single stream recycling as this is a better option than throwing stuff away but to keep our recycling costs in check, we need to be more selective in what we put in our recycling stream.  Best options is to first, reduce the amount of packaging and waste or second, to re-using or re-purposing materials.  Eventually, though, we need to find a recycling outlet --- for plastics items that have the #1 (soda bottles), #2 (milk jugs), or #5 (e.g clear egg crate) symbols also newspapers, paper, cardboard, metal cans, and so on, recycling is a great option.  But what about books, textiles, plastic bags, and others item that don't go into the recycling stream?  

The Westford Recycling Commission will be producing a number of videos to help residents assist in the Town's recycling program to lower our costs and keep stuff out or our landfills.

Recycling Plastic Bags

Whole Foods in Westford and Donelan's (Acton and Littleton) accept plastics bags including plastic produce bags, plastic bread bags, bubble wrap, plastic outer wrap (around paper towels for example), etc.  Again, please bring only clean plastic bags/wrap. Place any dirty or contaminated stretch plastic in the trash.  Other locations for stretch wrap can be found HERE

Plastics bags include:

  • Bread bags
  • Case overwrap
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Newspaper sleeves
  • Ice bags
  • Wood pellet bags
  • Ziplock and other reclosable food storage bags
  • Produce bags
  • Bubble wrap and air pillow
  • Salt bags
  • Cereal box liners
  • Plastic shipping envelopes

 Currently NOT recyclable in Massachusetts (Put in TRASH): 

  • Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
  • Pre-washed salad mix bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Candy bar wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Six-pack rings
  • PPE – Gloves, masks, protective wear

Westford Recycling Commission volunteer and Town resident, Rubal Verma, presents a short video on plastic bag recycling (which CANNOT go into curbside recycling):

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Better Recycling: Cardboard

A successful recycling program is the result of contributions from everyone in the Town of Westford

The market for recyclables has become stricter and, as a result, recyclers are not able to profitability recycle paper, cardboard, and plastics unless it's properly prepared.  For instance, containers need to be rinsed and cleaned in order to be recycled -- otherwise, they are diverted to the waste stream. In this video, Ellen Harde, teaches us how to prepare our cardboard for recycling (cardboard is one the most valuable recycling commodities).  Ellen explains that cardboard must be:

  1. Flattened
  2. Cut down to 3’ x 3’
  3. Bundled (with packing tape or string) if it’s more than what you can carry in one go

With these small steps, we are helping to contribute to better recycling.  Keep watching to the end to learn how to recycle books!

Recycling Books

The Recycling Commission began the book collection program in 2004/05 with a group called Hands Across The Water. The organization placed an overseas shipping container in the Water Department parking lot.  Ken Teal and Elizabeth Sawyer recently revisited the site and prepared the following video:

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Need additional help with practicing the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle), please check out this video by the youth of Westford:

The youth of Westford have worked hard to make a difference in Westford’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle efforts through the production of the Waste Pyramid Video. In a very creative way they have driven home how we as residents can do better in this effort. Erin McEwan developed  this project as part her successful efforts to achieve the Girl Scout Gold Award with a focus on reducing single-use plastic in Westford.  The video is presented by 5 girl scouts who she recruited for this effort and their message is very compelling.  The Westford Recycling Commission is very honored to host this wonderful video and applauds this effort.

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Check How to Recycle Everything and for information on recycling items that cannot be placed in curbside recycling (many operations, however, may be impacted by COVID-19).

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