Bow is recycling again, but costs depend on how careful people are 

Monitor staff
Published: 8/11/2019 5:24:06 PM

Bow has decided to stick with its recycling program despite the expense, and officials hope that people in town will clean up their act to keep the cost down.

Bow, like all communities in the U.S., has been hit by huge cost increases spurred by changes in the global recycling market. It experimented this spring with picking up curbside recycling material in trash trucks and sending it to the incinerator or landfill along with all the other trash, to find out how much costs would go down. After debate in town and pressure from the town’s Recycling Committee, in May the selectmen voted to continue the recycling program.

Recyclables left at the curb in Bow are again being picked up in separate trucks by Pinard and taken to Casella’s recycling facility.

“We’ll do the double (pickup), take the recycling to Casella and see what happens,” said Town Administrator David Stack.

The annual cost will be approximately $30,000. Key to keeping costs within the budget, Stack said, is having the recyclables designed as “class A,” meaning the amount of contaminants ranging from non-recyclable material to food waste isn’t too high.

“They look at every load,” Stack said.

Until this year Bow, like most communities, had multi-year contracts with set costs for trash and recycling pickup. But the collapse of the global recycling market, spurred when China stopped taking most of America’s plastic, glass and other material, has undermined such contracts.

Bow now has a month-to-month recycling deal with Pinard. That means its costs will go up if Casella finds that too much non-recycled material is being discarded.

“If we meet the grade A mix of recyclables, we’ll use that number for the following month,” said Stack.

The situation is complicated because some materials that carry the recycling logo – a triangle made of arrows with a number in the middle – are not being recycled at the moment and should not be included in the single-stream bin. The biggest problem materials are styrofoam and plastic bags and cling wrap, which snarl machinery that separates material. But those aren’t the only problems.

“Only recycle plastic items that are containers or vessels, such as plastic bottles,” Pinard Waste says in an explanatory flier. “Even if an item has a recycling number, it may not be recyclable because there is no market for it. Plastic toys, plastic utensils, straws, clothes hangers and bulky plastic items are considered contamination and should not be placed in the curbside recycling. Colored plastic cups (such as red Solo cups) are also not accepted for recycling.”

The company is also asking people to be sure to empty out, or clean if necessary, food containers that are being recycled.

A flier with further details is online:

Stack said members of the town recycling committee toured the Casella recycling facility to get a better idea about what is allowed and what is happening to materials that are recycled.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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