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Recycling Bins Must Contain Only Acceptable Items Starting Oct. 1

For Immediate Release: 8/24/2022 1:46 pm

WORCESTER – In an effort to help Worcester reduce contamination in the recycling stream, the City has teamed up with recycling hauler and processer Casella Waste Management of Massachusetts Inc. Beginning Oct. 1, recycling bins that contain unacceptable materials, including recycling that has been placed in plastic bags, will not be collected at the curb.

The Department of Public Works & Parks recently completed delivery of new zero-sort recycling bins to homes throughout the city. The new 22-gallon containers come fitted with a vented plastic dome cover to help prevent materials from blowing out onto the street. The bins are also labeled with instructions on what materials should be recycled using the bins and which should not.

The recycling bin program, including education about what items would be picked up curbside, was first introduced to the public by the DPW&P as part of the Clean Worcester Program in the summer of 2021.

Since then, the DPW&P has been working with Casella and community partners such as the Worcester Green Corps to educate residents on how to properly use the recycling bins. This summer staff have been out in the city tagging bins when recycling contamination occurs.

The most common misstep is when users put their recyclable material into plastic bags. Plastic bags are a particularly problematic contaminant for the large machines that do the sorting of materials back at the recycling facility.

“The most important thing for residents to understand is that plastic bags cannot be recycled,” said Jay Fink, Commissioner of DPW&P. “Do not put recycling items in a plastic bag.  Just put all the eligible items right into the green bin and Casella will take care of the rest.”

During this introductory period, while the new bins were being distributed, contaminated materials have been taken away; starting Oct. 1 that will change. Bins that include contaminated items will be left at the curb. Residents can either bring the materials back to their homes, remove the contaminates from the bin, and put the bin out the following week, or they can take the eligible materials to the Residential Drop-Off Center at 1065 Millbury St., Worcester.

Additional bins may be purchased for $12 starting Sept. 6 at 20 East Worcester St. Residents can also use their own bins.

To use the recycling bins properly, residents should put these items inside your green bin:

  • Empty and rinse metal food and beverage cans.
  • Empty and replace the cap for plastic bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs.
  • Empty and rinse glass bottles and jars.
  • Empty and flatten paper and cardboard, including newspapers, magazines, and boxes.

Materials that cannot be recycled in your green bin include:

  • No plastic bags, either individually or filled with materials.
  • No wax coated paper items.
  • No disposable items such as plastic cutlery, paper towels, or Styrofoam takeout food containers.
  • No food or liquid, all containers must be emptied.
  • No clothing or linens
  • No items that will tangle in the sorting machines such as hoses, electrical wires, or chains.
  • No batteries, scrap metal, pans, or aerosol cans.
  • No electronic devices or hazardous materials.
  • No ceramics or baking glass.
  • No medical waste, including gloves and masks.
  • No yard waste, such as wood or tires.

“Recycling is extremely important,” said Fink. “It’s critical for us all to keep reusable materials out of the waste stream. Throwing recyclable materials into the garbage is not only expensive, in terms of disposal, but bad for the environment.

If we all do our part by taking a few extra moments to ensure our new recycling bins contain the right items, our City can have a major impact,” Fink continued.      

For more information, please visit or call the Customer Service Center at 508-929-1300.

City of Worcester
Worcester 311
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Phone: 311
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