Hazardous Waste




What do I do with

wastemobile.pngThere are over 350 items listed alphabetically, To see the list click here.

What Do I Do With....?

This page is designed to help you properly dispose of anything and everything. There are over 350 items listed alphabetically. Just click on the letter your item begins with and scroll down from there. There is also a table below with broad categories to help you. If you can't find your item on this page please call the HRMC Office at (413) 685-5498 oremail us and we will do our best to answer your questions.

Please help us to improve this guide!  If you encounter errors or have suggestions for changes or additions, contact us atHRMC.

Additional Information

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Shredded Paper

Shredded paper IS recyclable in municipal (paper) recycling. Never put plastic bags of any type in recycling: to contain shredded paper, use a paper bag or paper lawn and leaf bag and staple or tape the top shut. 

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Toothpaste Tubes, Toothbrushes

Not recyclable in municipal recycling. Toothpaste tubes are made of several materials laminated together (aluminum and different types of plastic), and the materials are difficult to separate. Toothbrushes are too small to recycle, as they would get caught in conveyor belts at recycling facilities.  Terracycle runs two different mail-in recycling programs that accept tubes, toothbrushes and their packaging and floss containers.  Visit Terracycle.com and select “view all” to find options.  Preserve brand toothbrushes can also be brought to Whole Foods’ Gimme 5 recycling bin, or mailed in for recycling: www.preserveproducts.com

 For a downloadable guide to “Recycling in the Bathroom,” please see the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility’s website at springfieldmrf.org, click on “What’s Recyclable at the MRF,” and scroll down.

Food waste & non-recyclable paper can be delivered to municipal organic waste collection programs at the transfer stations in Amherst, Greenfield, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange & Whately; see page XX for local contact information.


This is a hazardous material and must be brought to the annual Household Hazardous Waste Day.


These are hazardous materials and must be brought to the annual Household Hazardous Waste Day.

Aerosol Cans ☠

Recycle only EMPTY aerosol cans that contained non-hazardous materials, such as health & beauty products (sun block, first aid spray, hair products, deodorant, & shaving cream); food products (cooking oil, whipped cream, frosting) and laundry products (starch, anti-static products & air fresheners).  To prevent fire hazard, cans must be completely empty (no air or noise from the nozzle when pressed).  Do not puncture, pierce, flatten, or remove nozzles prior to recycling.

Aerosol cans that are empty and once contained hazardous materials are NOT recyclable.  Place them in your household trash (empty insecticide, paint, lubricant, waterproofing, automotive, adhesive/craft & cleaning products).   If the can is not empty, deliver it to a household hazardous waste collection event. For additional information, see:www.mass.gov/guides/safety-manage-hazardous-household products.

Aluminum Cans, Foil and Disposable Pans

Rinse clean & recycle with bottles & cans.  Acceptable items include aluminum pie pans and take-out containers, disposable roaster pans, and clean aluminum foil.

Aluminum Siding


Call your Police Department for proper disposal instructions.



Arts, Crafts, and Hobby Items ☠

Some recycling programs exist for art supplies, but many supplies are hazardous and require special disposal.  Always check the label before tossing in the trash.  Visit www.crazycrayons.com for info about crayon recycling. Recycle Prang markers by visiting www.dixonrecycle.com/.

Asbestos ☠

There are strict removal & disposal requirements for asbestos. Contact the Western Region of the Mass Department of Environmental Protection (Ben Fish: (413) 755-2285, bernard.fish@state.ma.us To find licensed asbestos contractors, go to www.mass.govand type “asbestos license lists” into the search bar, then click “Currently Licensed Asbestos Contractors."

Athletic Shoes


Automotive Products ☠

Automotive products contain many hazardous materials & must be handled with care.  Don’t dump in your trash, on the ground or down the drain.

Motor oil - Even a small amount of motor oil will contaminate water & soil.  In MA, retailers are required by law to accept up to two gallons of used oil at no charge with an original sales receipt.  Some auto supply stores, auto repair shops & gas stations will accept used oil even if you didn't buy it from them.  To locate a collection center, call the MADEP Used Oil Hotline at 617-556-1022 or see page XX for local disposal information. Motor oil bottles that are COMPLETELY EMPTY can be thrown in the trash and should not be recycled. Most Towns accept motor oil at hazardous waste collection events.


Motor oil filters - Some auto repair shops will recycle oil filters for free. Oil filters may be thrown away or recycled as scrap metal only when the oil has been completely drained ou(while filter is still warm, puncture the dome top & drain into a collection container.  See above for oil disposal).

Empty motor oil bottles - Empty motor oil containers are not recyclable; drain well and then throw them away as trash. 

Antifreeze - Antifreeze is not only hazardous; its deceiving color & sweet taste may attract children, pets & wild animals.  Empty antifreeze bottles should be thrown away (do not recycle).  Consider having your vehicle’s radiator flushed at a service station to avoid the responsibility associated with proper storage & disposal.  Antifreeze can be brought to a hazardous waste collection event.

Brake fluid - Brake fluid is hazardous and must be brought to a household hazardous waste collection event.Empty bottles of this material should be thrown away (do not recycle).

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Baby Food Pouches/Fruit Snack Packets

These multi-material pouches which contain applesauce, squeezable fruit, or baby food are NOT recyclable in municipal recycling programs. Terracycle runs several different mail-in recycling programs for pouches and caps. See: www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades. Please make sure all leftover food and moisture has been removed. Pouches must be completely dry prior to shipping.


Ballasts ☠

Batteries ☠

Common “single-use” household batteries (alkaline, carbon zinc in sizes A, AA, AAA, C & D, 9 volt, lantern) manufactured after 1996 don’t contain mercury or other hazardous/recyclable materials & can be thrown away as trash. (Tape contacts on 9-volts and lantern batteries before disposal or storage.) Check labels carefully: some rechargeable and lithium batteries (which require special handling) can resemble alkaline batteries.

ALL other battery varieties contain hazardous materials and require special disposal.  Many communities have convenient drop-off options; HRMC member-Towns collect batteries at their transfer stations; or search online with your zip code at www.earth911.com.  In addition:

  • Button batteries (found in watches, hearing aids, electronics & some toys) are usually accepted free of charge by stores that sell them or watch/jewelry shops.
  • Lead acid batteries ((found in vehicles, boats, motorcycles, kids’ ride-on toys, lawn mowers) will be accepted by the retailer from whom you buy a new one (they are required to take one back at no charge).  Scrap metal recyclers typically pay for lead acid batteries.
  • Lithium batteries (found in many applications, primarily in cameras):  check all batteries carefully before disposal; look for “Lithium" on the label.  They resemble alkaline batteries, but these should ideally be recycled properly: HRMC member-Towns accept them at their transfer stations.
  • Rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals and require special handling. These can be found in cell phones, cordless phones, laptops, tablets, ipads, some digital cameras, camcorders, UPS battery back-ups, some toys, baby monitors, power tools, robotic and emergency medical equiprment.  Also, hand-held vacuum cleaners, rechargeable toothbrushes, razors, and flashlights, plus rechargeable batteries that can be used with a battery recharger.  Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, RadioShack, Sears, Staples, Target, & Verizon Wireless accept Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), Nickel-Zinc (Ni-Zn), small Sealed Lead Acid (Pb) batteries (up to 11 pounds). For more information and options for recycling rechargeable batteries, go to www.call2recycle.org.

Beer and Soda Packaging

Although it looks like paper boxboard, beer and soda packaging contains plastic (to stay strong when wet) and is NOT recyclable.


Working bicycles in good condition can be offered to charitable (search online via “bicycle donation”) or private organizations (e.g. www.pedalpeople.coop) that will use them, or may be gifted to individuals via free on-line posting services like Freecycle.org.  For recycling options, see “scrap metal.”



Books in good condition may be sold at used bookstores, donated to public libraries or a book exchange, or dropped off at your local recycling/transfer station’s book exchange.  Reader to Reader, an Amherst-based non-profit, provides library-quality books to needy U.S. school and public libraries (www.readertoreader.org).  Paperback books & phonebooks unsuitable for reuse CAN be recycled in municipal programs.  The covers and spines from hardcover books are NOT recyclable; rip the pages out and recycle those; discard the spine and covers. Roundabout Books (Greenfield) accepts books in any condition; donations are sorted for local and mail-order sale and all types of unsalable books are recycled at a local papermill. (www.roundaboutbookstore.com; 413- 773-0820).

Bottle Caps and Lids

Plastic caps & lids are recyclable only if fastened to a plastic bottle/jar/jug/tub.  Loose tops should be placed in the trash; small items cause safety hazards and shutdowns in recycling facilities because they get caught in the sorting equipment.  Metal lids are acceptable for recycling (loose or attached to the container).


Clean cardboard, boxboard, paperboard boxes are recyclable (e.g., packaging from snacks, pet food, crackers, tissues, shoes, gifts, etc).  Plastic windows may stay, but discard plastic liners. Flatten.

The clean portions of pizza boxes can be recycled, but all greasy parts must be discarded or composted.  Because whole pizza boxes are usually greasy to some degree, drop-off centers and curbside programs sometimes reject them.  Turning them inside out or ripping them up are the best ways to ensure they won’t end up in a landfill.Soiled pizza boxes can be delivered to municipal compost programs at the transfer stations in Amherst, Greenfield (also open to non-residents), Leverett, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Wendell & Whately. 

Frozen food boxes, case boxes from soda or beer, and kitty litter boxes are not acceptable in recycling or composting. These boxes are made with “wet strength paper,” a special plastic-reinforced material that keeps them from falling apart when wet.  These boxes do not break down in the paper recycling process, and must go in the trash.

Bubble Wrap and Inflated Plastic Packaging

Building & Remodeling Materials

Construction & demolition (“C&D”) waste includes asphalt, asphalt shingles, bricks, cement, cinder blocks, clapboard, concrete, doors, flooring, insulation, lumber, mortar, plaster, plywood, roofing, sheetrock, shingles, tiles, windows & wood.  Fee-based disposal options are available at most recycling/transfer stations. Vehicleswith a capacity greater than 5 cubic yards are subject to strict disposal requirements for C&D waste. For more information please visit: www.mass.gov/lists/managing-construction-demolition-cd-wastes.

Used building materials in good condition can be donated for re-use.  Locally, EcoBuilding Bargains accepts a variety of building products, as well as offering deconstruction services.  Contact them prior to delivery or to arrange free pickup. EcoBuilding Bargains (formerly the “ReStore”), 83 Warwick Street, Springfield, MA (413-788-6900; ecobuildingbargains.org)

Wooden pallets can be reused or recycled as “clean wood waste.”  Disposal options for large quantities include (but are not limited to) Martin’s Farm (413-774-5631), Index Packaging (800-662-3626 x111), 360 Recycling (413-562-0193) & Gold Circuit E-cycling (888-283-0007)

Note:  pressure-treated wood should only be disposed of in a modern landfill.  Don’t put it in a backyard compost, brush or chipping pile; don’t burn it or send it to a waste incinerator for disposal.

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Staples stores, Best Buy Stores and many e-waste vendors will accept digital cameras for free recycling. Canon has a mail-in recycling program; check out http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/recycling for more info.

Canning Jars

Canning jars are not recyclable because of the thickness of the glass. Reuse, give to a friend who can use them, put in a tag sale or swap shop at a transfer station, or place in the trash.


Flor® offers a free mail-back recycling program for carpet squares (www.flor.com/recycle).  Some nonprofit organizations accept relatively clean carpet for reuse.

Cartons and Drink Boxes

“Paper” cartons (“Gable tops” for milk and orange juice, “aseptic packaging” for soy milk, soup, juice) should be recycled with bottles & cans.  Rinse/flatten containers.  Discard straws; plastic caps & spouts may stay.  Don’t include drink pouches (e.g., Capri Sun) with your bottles & cans; drink pouches can only be recycled through Teracycle (www.terracycle.com).


Cell Phones ☠

Cell phones shouldn’t be thrown away due to their reuse value & hazardous/recyclable components.  Numerous charitable & for-profit organizations accept cell phone donations.  Search online using “cell phone donation” or check out www.recyclingforcharities.com, www.call2recycle.org or www.earth911.com.  Stores that sell cell phones will also accept them for free, and many cell phone manufacturers offer buy-back programs through the mail. Lowe’s, RadioShack and all HRMC member-Town transfer stations also accept for free recycling as part of the Call2Recycle program: www.call2recycle.org.

Christmas Trees

Cigarette Butts

Terracycles’s “Cigarette Waste Brigade” (terracycle.com) accepts extinguished cigarettes, filters, loose tobacco pouches, outer plastic and inner foil packaging for recycling into plastic pallets and other products.

Clamshells and Clear Molded Plastics


Clothing and Textiles

Local reuse & donation opportunities exist for all textiles & shoes.  Deliver CLEAN & DRY textiles & clothing to donation centers & drop-off boxes for Goodwill Industries (www.goodwill.org) & the Salvation Army (www.use.salvationarmy.org).  DO include items that are torn, stained, with missing buttons or broken zippers, as these organizations sell damaged textiles to recyclers to be made into insulation.  Acceptable items include these CLEAN & DRY items: mismatched socks, shoes and gloves; all clothing and accessories including belts, ties, underwear & purses; and linens such as curtains, pillows, comforters, sheets, towels, and stuffed animals in any condition.  Some animal shelters also accept old sheets, blankets, pillowcases, bedspreads, throw rugs & towels for reuse.  All HRMC member-Town transfer stations have a Salvation Army collection bin.

To find local clothing consignment stores, go to www.thethriftshopper.com. See also www.thredUP.com, www.swap.com, www.refashioner.com, and https://wornwear.patagonia.com

Salvation Army and Goodwill accept bras; anything that is not in good condition will be put into textile recycling.  New & gently used bras can be mailed to 3317 S. Higley Road, Suite 114-441, Gilbert, AZ  85297 for distribution to women in transition around the world (www.brarecycling.com, 480-988-2283).  

Fall 2016: Northampton and South Hadley’s Bras for a Cause competition: collected bras will be donated to local women and families in need via social service agencies. New and gently-worn bras with functional clasps and straps in all sizes, types and styles (including special needs bras such nursing, post breast surgery and other special needs) will be collected. Numerous local collection sites will be listed at: www.facebook.com/northamptonbras4acause

The “Save Your Scrubs” program (www.globallinks.org/donate/scrubs) collects gently-used scrubs to distribute to medical personnel in resource-poor communities overseas; mail to Global Links, Attn: Save Your Scrubs, 700 Trumbull Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15205.

Some non-profit organizations target specific types of clothing to benefit those in need, such as professional clothing and wedding dresses (see https://westernmass.dressforsuccess.org, www.careergear.org and www.donatemyweddingdress.org)

Coat Hangers

Do not put hangers in your recycling bin: they get caught in machinery at recycling facilities.  Some charitable organizations will accept hangers for reuse or resale.  Metal hangers are accepted for reuse by some dry cleaners & are also accepted for recycling as scrap metal at most recycling/transfer stations.  Unfortunately, plastic hangers are not recyclable & should be thrown away when they are no longer useable.

Compact Florescent Lamps

Computers and TVs

Construction and Demolition Waste


When recycling in western Massachusetts, all you have to do is sort recyclables into two categories: Paper and Containers. But there are many items that were once used to contain a product that are not recyclable.  For detailed information about which containers can and cannot be recycled:Recycling Yes/No List  and the Plastics Recycling Brochure

Please do not put recyclable containers in plastic bags, as plastic bags are not recyclable.

Cooking Oil

Never pour cooking oil down the drain. Liquids should be kept out of the trash.  There are several local recycling options: Northeast Biodiesel, a new biodiesel plant in Greenfield, is expanding its pickup locations across the state: 413-772-8892; ReEnergizer of Westfield accepts vegetable oil by appointment & provides collection services for larger generators: www.localvegoil.com, 413-322-3324; Western Mass rendering provides dumpsters for large collections: www.westernmassrendering.com; 413-569-6265. Don’t drop-off oil at these sites without prior confirmation.


Corks should not be put in your recycling bin.  Natural corks can be crumbled & added to a backyard compost bin, or put in municipal/commercial composting.  ReCORK (www.recork.org) recycles natural wine & champagne corks (no plastic or metal corks); Whole Foods in Hadley and Ryan & Casey Liquors in Greenfield are ReCork collection sites.  Yemm & Hart pays for large volumes of corks mailed to them, and accepts (but doesn’t pay for) plastic corks: www.yemmhart.com. Wine corks can be reused in many creative ways (search online for “cork art”).

Cosmetics Containers

Origins offers free recycling of make-up packaging, regardless of brand.  Empty cosmetic tubes, bottles, lipstick covers, jars & caps can be brought to an Origins retail store or department store counter nationwide.  For more information, see: www.origins.com/our-commitment.  Other mail-in recycling programs for empty cosmetics containers can be found at www.maccosmetics.com/giving_back/back_to_mac.tmpl and www.terracycle.com.

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Egg Cartons

Clear, molded plastic egg cartons (“clamshells”) are recyclable with bottles & cans. Paper & Styrofoam egg cartons are not recyclable. Compost ripped-up paper cartons at home; donate cartons to backyard chicken farmers, or search online for creative tips using “recycling or reusing egg cartons.”

Electronic Media (CDs, DVDs, magnetic tape, etc.)

Do not add electronic media to your household bottle and containers bin.  They easily shatter and the glass-like shards create hazards and other problems at the recycling facility.  If selling or donating used media is not an option (some communities accept certain types via book donation programs), GreenDisk.com offers a fee-based, mail-in recycling option, and Gold Circuit E-Cycling (Palmer) charges a nominal per pound fee to recycle DVDs, disks and tapes: www.goldcircuitecycling.com.

The following HRMC member-Towns accept DVDs, CDs, and records in their Book Bin Recycling Container:  Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, and Williamsburg.


Electronics ☠

This category includes most items with a plug.  Metal-based electronics can be safely recycled as scrap metal with an important exception:  anything with a screen.  State regulations prohibit throwing away cathode ray tubes (CRTs) or flat screen TVs, monitors and laptops.  Access to local recycling programs is widespread.  All HRMC member-Town communities collect electronics and CRTs for a fee. In addition:

  • Staples will recycle any eligible item at no charge.  Staples only accepts computer type e-waste: no TVs.  Visit www.staples.com & search for “recycling,” or call your local store.  Newer technology devices can be sold through www.staples.com.
  • Best Buy charges customers to recycle e-waste and televisions.
  • Computer manufacturers offer a variety of electronic recycling programs, including (but not limited to) Apple, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Sony & Toshiba.  Go to their websites for more info.  
  • Computers & other electronics in working condition can be donated to www.cristina.org to benefit students at risk & people who are economically disadvantaged or disabled.


Call your Police Department for proper disposal instructions.


To donate your spectacles for reuse, look for a “Lions in Sight” collection box in your local Post Office or wherever eyeglasses are sold or mail to:Lions in Sight, 1404 Lemon Street, Vallejo, CA 94590.  New Eyes for the Needy (973-376-4903) accepts metal frames in any condition, unbroken plastic framed glasses & non-prescription sunglasses; mail to:  549 Millburn Avenue, Box 332, Short Hills, NJ 07078.  Otherwise, eyeglasses are not recyclable & should be thrown away.

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Fertilizers and Pesticides

Fire Extinguishers ☠

Fire extinguishers are considered hazardous because their contents are under pressure.  Units manufactured prior to 1984 may contain dangerous chemicals.  For disposal and recycling: 

  • Businesses & property managers can contact their fire control service provider. 
  • Residents can call their local fire department for local disposal options.
  • Some municipal hazardous waste collections may accept older fire extinguishers: ask before bringing them to a collection.
  • All HRMC member-Town transfer stations accept newer fire extinguishers for special recycling along with propane tanks.
  • MA Fire Technologies accepts all types of fire extinguishers for a small fee (49 Heywood Ave, West Springfield; 800-244-6769, www.massfire.com).  
  • New England Disposal Technologies (Westfield, MA) accepts fire extinguishers year-round for modest fees (nedt.org). 

Fireworks ☠

Do not throw unused fireworks in the trash. Live fireworks are extremely dangerous, and must be disposed of properly; call your local Fire Department.


For the proper disposal of U.S. flags no longer in usable condition, contact the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), civic groups, or Scout Troops.

Fluorescent bulbs & lamps ☠

(see “Mercury & Mercury-containing Products”)

Food Scraps (also see Cooking Oil)

Food scraps and leftovers are heavy to transport and contribute to climate change when they decompose in landfills; composting them makes better environmental sense.  Local composting options include home composting, municipal transfer station programs (in Amherst, Greenfield, Leverett, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Wendell & Whately), and (where available) curbside pick-up by a waste hauler.  Many municipalities offer discounted purchase programs for countertop collection pails and home compost bins including the following HRMC member-Towns: Chesterfield, Westhampton, and Williamsburg.  For home composting instructions, visit Mass.gov and search for “home compost.”


Furniture in good condition can be sold or donated for reuse.  The Salvation Army provides pick-up of furniture in good condition .  Getting rid of mattresses & box springs can be difficult, as most charities & many communities don’t handle them.  When you purchase a new mattress, ask the retailer to take back and recycle the old one.  The Town of Williamsburg serves as the HRMC regional collection center for recycling mattresses for HRMC member-Town communities for a fee. To learn more about mattress disposal and recycling options see the Consumer Affairs guide at: www.consumeraffairs.com

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Since glass does not degrade, a bottle thrown in a landfill today would still be around in the year 3000. That's why it's so important to recycle any glass food or beverage container. In addition to saving landfill space, recycling saves energy. For example, recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours. Any clear, green, or brown glass bottle which held a food or beverage and is smaller than 2 gallons can be recycled. Empty and rinse; discard caps in trash. Labels and neck rings are okay, as they can be sorted out at the recycling facility.

There are other glass items that unfortunately cannot be recycled.
No light bulbs
No window glass
No auto glass
No broken glass
No dishes
No drinking glasses
No mirrors
No Pyrex

Golf Balls

Contact local golf courses or driving ranges to see if they will accept them for reuse. Quantities of 5,000 or more can be sold via: www.lostgolfballs.com/we-buy.

Greeting Cards

Cards are recyclable with paper if they do not contain foil or metallic inks.  Remove electronics from singing greeting cards & recycle the button battery (see “Batteries”).  St. Jude’s Ranch for Children runs a greeting card reuse program (stjudesranch.org); mail cards to: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005.

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Hearing Aids

The Starkey Hearing Foundation operates a hearing device reuse program.  Mail to: Starkey Hearing Foundation, ATTN: Hearing Aid Recycling, 6700 Washington Avenue South, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. (www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/Hearing-Aid-Recycling)If your hearing aid is not worth salvaging, remove & recycle the button battery (see “Batteries”), then place the device in the trash.

Household Hazardous Waste ☠


First, consider using up the product according to package directions, or giving it away to someone who will.  Read the product label to determine if the product is considered hazardous, thus requiring special handling.  Look for warnings & words like caustic, toxic, corrosive, poison, flammable, danger & “keep out of reach of children.”  The HRMC sponsors and an annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection event every fall.  Information and pre-registration (required for all HHW events) for this event and other reciprocal HHW events that HRMC member-Towns can participate in are included on the HRMC website.  In addition to municipal programs, New England Disposal Technologies, Inc. in Westfield accepts all types of household hazardous wastes from any resident or small business for modest fees: 866-769-1621 or http://nedt.org. For safe alternatives to hazardous household products, visit www.lesstoxicguide.ca or www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/ecofriendly-cleaning

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Ink, Printer and Toner Cartridges

Cartridges are accepted for free recycling at Staples, and other local recycling options may be found at www.earth911.  Many local schools & non-profit organizations collect cartridges for fundraising purposes.  To donate them to charitable organizations through mail-in programs, search online using “cartridge donations.” 

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Junk Mail and Catalogs

Unwanted mail & catalogs are recyclable, but it makes more sense to reduce them at the source:

Junk Mail and Catalogs

Unwanted mail & catalogs are recyclable, but it makes more sense to reduce them at the source:

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Old keys can be recycled via the scrap metal container at all HRMC member-Town transfer stations, or brought to a local scrap metal dealer.

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Latex Paint

Light Bulbs ☠

Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs are not recyclable & should be put in the trash.  Halogen lamps are also non-recyclable.  The hazard associated with these bulbs is sharp glass when broken, so take some care to wrap them in paper or plastic before tossing them in the trash. Fluorescent bulbs & compact fluorescent bulbs [“CFLs”] require special disposal (see “Mercury and Mercury Containing Products”). LED light bulbs do not have to be recycled, but contain valuable materials and can be recycled with CFLs; all HRMC member-Towns accept Fluorescent bulbs & CFLs for proper disposal at each of their transfer stations.

Light Strings

Holiday light sets are NOT recyclable in municipal recycling programs because they get wrapped around sorting equipment. Some scrap metal dealers will accept them for recycling.  Holiday LEDS has a mail-in recycling program and sends donors a coupon for 15% off any purchase (www.holidayleds.com/christmas-light-recycling-program.aspx).

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Mardi Gras Beads

To donate Mardi Gras stuff to a good cause, mail beads, stuffed animals, feather boas and trinkets to the Arc of Greater New Orleans, 925 S Labarre Road, Metairie, LA 70001.  See: www.arcgno.org/arcgno.org or call 504-837-5105.

Mattresses and Box Springs

(see "Furniture")

Medications and Pharmaceuticals ☠

Disposal of unwanted medication must be done carefully for many reasons.  For example, since wastewater treatment plants & septic systems are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals from waste water, drugs must NOT be poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet. 

Many area police departments offer permanent drop-off boxes for free disposal of prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins, and veterinary medications:  Agawam, Amherst, Ashfield, Athol, Belchertown, Buckland, Cummington, Deerfield, Easthampton, Erving, Granby, Goshen, Greenfield, Hadley, Hampden, Longmeadow, Montague, Northampton, Orange, South Hadley, Southampton, Sunderland, Ware, Whately, Westfield and Williamsburg.  If your town isn’t listed, call your town’s police department, but you do not need to be a resident to use the drop boxes in any of these towns.  

The drop boxes cannot accept needles, liquid medications, IV equipment, or chemotherapy drugs.   For more information visit northwesternda.org/drug-drop-boxes.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will take place on October 26, 2019 from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM. This collection aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. For the hilltown area, the Williamsburg Police Department will be holding the October 26th collection event at the Williamsburg Pharmacy and Hardware Store on Route 9 in Williamsburg.  If you are unable to make the event, the Williamsburg Police Department has a permanent drop off that is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m.  and on other days by appointment.  Other hilltown collection events and drop off centers include:  The Ashfield Police Department (drop off during Town Office Hours), The Cummington Police Department (participating in October 26th Drug Take-Back Day – call business line for drop off box hours) and the Goshen Police Department.  To find other collection sites visit the following website: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback, or by calling 1-800-882-9539.

If you are unable to deliver medications to a drop box or a take-back day, medications may be safely disposed of in the following manner:  1) Remove any personal info from labels that could be used to obtain refills; 2) Render medications unattractive to children, pets & thieves by dissolving pills or tablets in a small amount of water or alcohol (pour liquids into kitty litter or sand); 3) Place in two sealed plastic bags; and 4) Conceal the package in your trash.  If you have large quantities of medications, consider disposing of them in smaller batches over time.  Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so. 

Due their small size and a protective lining, empty pill bottles are not recyclable.  Be creative with reuse!  For example, some animal shelters collect empty pill bottles to send medicines home with adoptees.  

Mercury and Mercury Containing Products ☠

Mercury is highly toxic & requires special disposal.  It is not hazardous when contained in a sealed device.  Placing items in sealed plastic bags & handling them carefully to avoid breakage will reduce exposure.  Never put mercury (or items containing mercury) in the trash or down a drain.  Don’t vacuum even the smallest spill.  Instructions for handling mercury exposure can be found at: www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/toxics/sources/cleaning-up-elemental-mercury-spills.html, or search the web for “broken CFL” or “mercury spill.” 

  • Fluorescent light bulbs 
  • All fluorescent light bulbs (even the low mercury bulbs with green tips) contain mercury vapor. For assistance, businesses, residents and organizations can call the RecyclingWorks hotline at 1-888-254-5525 or info@recyclingworksma.com.  Recycling options vary based on the type of bulb
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)fit in standard screw-type light sockets & are made of a glass tube.  They come in a variety of shapes & styles, & can be encased by an outer glass bulb.  All HRMC member-Towns collect CFLs at their transfer stations (see attendant).  Free CFL recycling is also offered at Home Depot,Lowes, Solar Store of Greenfield, Whole Foods.
  • Larger fluorescent tubes don’t fit in standard screw-type sockets.  These include long straight, circular or U-shaped tubes, tanning bed lamps, High Intensity Discharge (HIDs), & neon light tubing.  Accepted at all HRMC member-Town transfer stations. Straight lamps and others are accepted at Lowe’s: handle carefully and hand to an employee. 
  • Thermometers
  • Many older household thermometers (fever, candy, meat, deep fry, oven, ambient temperature) have liquid mercury-based indicators.  A mercury thermometer can be easily identified by the presence of a silver bulb at the end of a glass tube. If the bulb is red, blue, purple or green, it is not a mercury thermometer and can go in the trash.
  • Thermostats 
  • Updating to a programmable thermostat? Don’t throw away your old wall-mounted thermostats: they contain a significant amount of liquid mercury.  Leave thermostats intact, place in a sealed plastic bag, and handle carefully to avoid breakage.  HRMC member-Town transfer stations accept the theremostats as part of a free Thermostate Recycling Corporation program.  In addition to municipal collection programs, mercury-type thermostats are accepted at no charge at many plumbing retail stores (search by zip code using “Plumbing Supplies”).  For more locations, go to www.thermostat-recycle.org.  
  • Ballasts 
  • Most fluorescent light fixtures produced before July 1979 contained ballasts with small amounts of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a highly toxic substance.  PCB-free ballasts are marked “No PCBs.”  PCB ballasts are collected at all HRMC member-Town transfer stations.


(see “Scrap Metal”)

Mothballs ☠

Motor Oil and Filters ☠

(see “Automotive Products”)

Musical Instruments

Hungry for music (www.hungryformusic.org) distributes quality musical instruments to underserved children in the US & abroad. Buy reused instruments locally by searching online or in the phone book.

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Needles and Sharps

According to MA Sanitary Code, it is illegal to dispose of sharps (hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, & all other “sharps”) as trash.  Never put a container full of sharps in your recycling bin.  Collection programs are available in many towns; call your local Board of Health or see a listing of all the sharps programs in the state: go to www.mass.gov and type “needles” in the search bar. Several mail-in disposal programs are available; check out earth911.com or search online for “sharps mail-in programs.” Stericycle is an example of a company that picks up sharps for safe disposal at businesses that generate sharps: 866-783-7422.

Nitrile Gloves

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Packaging Materials

(also see “Plastics”)

Online purchasing has increased the amount of packaging in the waste stream considerably.  Most of these materials are reusable; some are also recyclable:

  • Cardboard boxes can be reused, & flattened boxes can be recycled with mixed paper.  
  • Foam peanuts: see “Plastics” 
  • Cornstarch peanuts may be composted in a backyard bin or reused, or placed in the trash.  However, these are not accepted by commercial composting facilities or packing shipping stores. 
  • Styrofoam blocks & shapes:  see “Plastics
  • Packing paper is reusable as well as recyclable.  Place shredded paper in a paper bag & tightly close it before putting it in your recycling bin.
  • Plastic sealed air packaging is reusable.  Once deflated, it can also be recycled with plastic bags (see “plastics” for supermarket collection sites)

Paint and Paint Related Products ☠

If your unwanted paint was purchased recently & it's in good condition, consider donating it for use instead of throwing it away.  Many school/community theatre groups will accept quality paint products.  You may also offer it for reuse through www.freecycle.org.  Petroleum (oil-based) paints, stains, thinners, & varnishes are considered hazardous materials, requiring proper disposal (see “Hazardous Household Waste.”)  Latex paint & water-based stains are not accepted at local hazardous waste collections, but can be thrown away when completely hardened.  Speed up the process by adding latex paint hardener (available in hardware stores) or by stirring in clean kitty litter to the consistency of thick oatmeal & allowing the mix to harden.  When there are no free-flowing liquids, you can put the open paint can (without the lid) in your household trash. New England Disposal Technologies (Westfield, MA) accepts latex paint year-round for modest fees (nedt.org)



Worn-out pantyhose, nylon knee-highs, and tights in any condition can be sent to Recycled Crafts; they use them to make pet toys, rugs, placemats, and table runners. Email recycledcrafts@live.com for donation information, or visit: https://savemyhosiery.yolasite.com.


When recycling in western Massachusetts, all you have to do is sort recyclables into two categories: Paper and Containers. For detailed information about what paper can and cannot be recycled:Recycling Yes/No List

Please do not put recyclable paper in plastic bags, as plastic bags are not recyclable.

Pellet Stove Fuel Bags

Several communities collect pellet bags for recycling on a periodic or year-round basis, including 13 transfer stations in Franklin County, and the towns of Plainfield and Williamsburg. Gold Circuit E-Cycling in Palmer accepts pellet bags from the public for recycling: www.goldcircuitecycling.com, 888-283-0007. Some retail store plastic bag recycling programs will accept pellet bags (call first). Pellet bags must be dry and completely EMPTY. Flatten and stack empty bags, roll up the stack and place the roll in an empty pellet bag.


Many people assume that all plastic items are recycled, but recycling is demand-based; only those that can be made cost-effectively into new products are collected.  Please note that containers from food and personal products are the ONLY type of plastic suitable for your household recycling.  All other forms of plastic must go to a separate, special collection or into the trash.

Please note: only one of the five types of recyclable plastics discussed below may be placed in a household recycling bin; all other categories must go to a special collection site or into the trash.

Containers from food and personal products

The following items are welcome in your household recycling: plastic food or personal care product containers in the form bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs (less than 2.5 gallons in size) and clear clamshell-type containers.  Plastic caps & lids are also recyclable, but they must be attached to the container (not loose).  When possible, flatten containers before affixing caps & lids (push caps inside container if they won’t stay on).  Visit springfieldmrf.org for details and user-friendly graphics about household container recycling.

Do not put plastic bags, Styrofoam, black plastic, compostable serving items, and containers that held hazardous materials (such as automotive oil or degreasers) in your household recycling.  See “Keep These Plastics out of the Recycling Bin” for additional details.

Keep These Plastics Out of Your Recycling Bin!

Some plastic items cost too much to recycle, are unwanted by manufacturers or are recyclable only via separate recycling programs.  Please do not add these to your household or municipal recycling mix:

  • Plastic containers greater than 2.5 gallons in size 
  • Plastic containers which once held toxic substances (e.g. automotive oil) 
  • Plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic plates
  • Black plastic (microwavable containers, food trays, etc.)
  • Containers labeled "biodegradable" or "compostable" 
  • Foam items (e.g. cups, egg cartons, food containers & trays, packing material)
  • Molded plastic packaging (the type that requires a sharp object to open)
  • Forks, spoons, knives & serving utensils
  • Tubes (e.g. toothpaste, cosmetics, shampoo)
  • Binders, folders & plastic-coated (usually shiny) paper
  • Compact disks and cases, video & audio tapes
  • Nursery pots & trays
  • Six-pack rings (cut up & put in trash)
  • Plexiglass
  • PVC products (pipes, siding, etc.)
  • Manufactured plastic wood (decking material)

Bags & wrap (Do NOT place in household recycling bin)

Wanted, in retail store programs only (never place plastic bags in household, municipal, or commercial recycling): Relatively clean and dry plastic bags & some varieties of clear plastic film (such as bubble & case wraps)are recyclable only through special bins inside grocery stores and other large retail merchants (e.g. Target, Walmart, Lowe’s, Staples).   In general, plastic bags and wraps are recyclable if they are: 1) clear or translucent; 2) moderately stretchy; and 3) labeled #2 or #4 plastic (if possible).   An exception to this rule is household food or “cling” wrap (Saran® and Glad ® wrap), which contain PVC plastic and should be placed in the trash.  See the plastic bag recycling table on this page or visit plasticfilmrecycling.org for additional details.

Unwanted in retail store programs or elsewhere:  Soiled, greasy, containing food, wet, painted or embellished (glitter, paper labels) items, anything labeled “compostable,” non-stretchy food bags (pre-washed lettuce, frozen foods), and bags from heavy items such as soil, mulch and driveway salt.

Please do not put ANY kind of plastic bag in your household recycling bin; they create litter, clog machinery, and cause safety problems at the processing facility.


Never place plastic bags of any kind in your home recycling bin! 

Please clip and hang this sign over your plastic bag recycling collection at home, in the office, at school, or at a business. 

YES - DO RECYCLE in stores:   

  • Bags MUST be empty, clean and dry without receipts, coins, or trash.
  • Clean, dry plastic bags labeled #2 or #4:  “HDPE,” “PE-HD” OR , “LDPE,” “LLDPE” 


  • Grocery & produce bags
  • Newspaper bags 
  • Dry cleaning bags (no receipts/staples)
  • Plastic cereal bags(if it tears like paper do not include) 
  • Sandwich/Ziploc bags and bread bags: no crumbs, oils, food (remove large zippers)
  • Retail bags (#2 or #4) with string/hard plastic handles removed
  • Plastic outer wrap from packages of toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels, diapers, sanitary products
  • Bubble wrap, air pillows, Tyvek/plastic envelopes (deflate air pillows/remove labels)
  • Case wrap from cases of water, canned pet food, soda, etc.
  • Stretch wrap from furniture or electronics

NO - DO NOT RECYCLE in stores:

  • NO bags with food or moisture in them! 
  • NO garbage bags
  • NO food or cling wrap (Saran)
  • NO pet food product bags
  • NO coffee bags
  • NO prepackaged food bags (frozen food or prewashed salad)
  • NO chip bags, granola bar/candy wrappers
  • NO bags with paint or glue
  • NO compostable plastic bags
  • NO bag with a recycling symbol or # other than those described in the “yes” column
  • NO soil or sand bags

What about pellet stove fuel bags?  

  • Some retail stores will accept (call to ask).
  • Franklin County residents, see: www.franklincountywastedistrict.org
  • Gold Circuit E-Cycling in Ludlow recycles:  (888) 283-0007; www.goldcircuitecycling.com
  • Pellet bags MUST be dry and empty: cut bottom and top to release all pellets.

For more about plastic bag recycling, and to see pictures of acceptable items, see: www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.


Rigid, bulky objects (Do NOT place in household recycling bin)

Large, durable, molded plastic items such as laundry baskets, outdoor furniture, play structures & large toys, trash cans and some garden potstrays.  These large plastics can’t be recycled in the municipal /household recycling stream.  Currently, a few local communities offer separate collections to recycle these items.  Many items are reusable until broken or damaged.  Some organizations organize swap or collection events to promote reuse of bulky plastic items.  Localgarden clubs, garden centers, and florist shops accept clean, plastic plant containers for reuse (call first).  

Unwanted for special collections or elsewhere: Dirty, greasy, flexible, PVC, crinkly small items (toys)

Thin, scrunchy, black plastic seedling pots (such as four and six packs) are not included in these programs (reuse or place in trash).  

Foam (Do NOT place in household recycling bin)

The recycling market for rigid foam material (aka Styrofoam® or expanded polystyrene) 

is expanding, but some types remain difficult to recycle.  Rigid foam products may be divided into the general categories of shipping peanuts, large chunks, and food-related serve ware (cups, plates, trays). 

Large, rigid Styrofoam foam chunks and packing sheets

Wanted for special collections only: large pieces of rigid white, clean and dry foam.  Some communities (including Cummington, Plainfield, Westhampton, and Williamsburg) collect this material at their transfer stations. Gold Circuit E-Cycling in Ludow (888-283-0007 or goldcircuitecycling.com) accepts large chunk foam at no cost, and ReFoamIt occasionally holds one-day collection events in western MA (visit refoamit.com for dates).  Visit epspackaging.org to learn if other regional recycling options are being offered.

Unwanted in special collections or elsewhere:  Dirty, wet, greasy, black and colored foam, squishy (not rigid) foam, and foam wrap.  HRMC foam recyclers do not want food service foam (like meat trays; take-out containers, foam plates and coffee cups).

Foam shipping peanuts 

Although difficult to recycle, foam peanuts are highly reusable.  Bring clean & dry peanuts to a local retail shipping outlet (call first; search for a store near you at www.UPSstore.com), or give them to local businesses via Freecycle.org.  The Amherst Transfer Station operates a free shipping peanut exchange for permit holders.   

Food service foam (cups, plates, trays)

These are not accepted for recycling and should be placed in with your household trash.

#5 polypropylene toothbrushes and razors (Do NOT place in household recycling bin)

While #5 (polypropylene) food & beverage containers CAN be recycled with bottles & cans, products such as toothbrushes & razors cannot.  The “Gimme 5” polypropylene recycling program offers drop-off collection sites (such as Whole Foods in Hadley) for some of these items and a mail-in program; visit www.preserveproducts.com/recycling.  

Pressure Treated Lumber

Propane Tanks

The larger varieties of propane (and other pressurized) tanks can be refilled; many businesses that sell propane will accept tanks for reuse under specific conditions.  Tanks must be empty before they can be recycled.  HRMC member-Towns accept deck-grill sized propane tanks or smaller for a fee; commercial options can be found online via www.earth911.com.

Pyrex, Ceramic and Porcelain Products

Do not recycle; dispose as trash.  Try offering local arts centers or craftspeople colorful ceramic/porcelain items (even broken ones) via Freecycle.com

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Reusable Shopping Bags

The ChicoBag Company’s repurposing program (www.chicobag.com/repurposing-program) collects discarded reusable bags for distribution to fixed/low-income families or for recycling into new products.  Mail to ChicoBag, C/O Zero Waste Program, 13434 Browns Valley Drive, Chico, CA 95973.

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Scrap Metal

Many metal items (like bicycles or BBQ grills) can be repaired, sold or donated to extend their useful life.  Because of its usefulness & value, state regulations prohibit throwing aluminum, steel, iron, lead, stainless steel, copper, brass, or bronze scrap in the trash.  Some metal items, such as batteries, propane tanks, ballasts, air conditioners and refrigerators, and automotive parts require special handling due to toxic or pressurized materials.  Search online under “metal recycling” for the scrap yard nearest you and its requirements.  Suitable scrap items must be at least 50% metal by weight. 


Many organizations, charitable and otherwise, collect clean, gently used shoes for reuse, but coveted resources can be reclaimed from all shoes…even worn and single ones.  Some information is available via an online search online for “shoe recycling.” 

Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors

Most household smoke detectors contain a radioactive element, Americium-241. While the amount of Am-241 is small enough to be considered harmless, its presence warrants special care.  Some retailers take back the brands of smoke alarms/detectors they stock; ask the store you purchased your smoke detector from if they provide this service.  Some manufacturer take-back programs exist.  Search the web using the manufacturer’s name & “smoke detector recycling” for more info.  Label the box "for disposal" and then ship by surface mail or UPS Ground (these shouldn’t be transported in an airplane).  Smoke detectors from any manufacturer can be recycled through  www.curieservices.com.  Some communities allow smoke detectors to be thrown away in the bulky waste box at a recycling/transfer station. 

Note: Carbon monoxide detectors are not considered hazardous waste, and can be safely disposed of in the trash. Contact a manufacturer directly for potential recycling opportunities.

Sports Equipment

Sporting equipment exchange/donation options are found locally via charitable organizations such as schools or the Lion’s Club.  Freecycle and other on-line exchange websites have also become very popular.


(see "Plastics")

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Tennis Balls

Donate used tennis balls to a local animal shelter or elementary school.  When attached to classroom chairs & desks, used tennis balls reduce noise as well as wear & tear on the floor. To recycle 200 tennis balls or more, go to www.rebounces.com/about-us/recycle-tennis-ball.  Tennis ball containers are not recyclable. 


Thermometers and Thermostats


Lamb Awards & Engraving accepts old trophies, plaques, sculptures and medals for reuse (www.lambawards.com/recycle.html): note that they only accept one box of trophies at a time, and only in August and September. Or contact your local trophy shop to see if they can reuse your old trophies.

Tyvek Envelopes

Tyvek envelopes (large, white envelopes that won’t rip: often from Fed Ex shipments) are made of high-density polyethylene plastic and CANNOT be recycled with paper.  Plastic bag recycling programs at grocery and retail stores DO accept Tyvek envelopes: remove labels. 

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Glass vases are not recyclable.  Donate to a local garden club, swap shop or local florist(s) for reuse. (Call first).

Vegetable Oil


Old vehicles, even inoperable ones, are valued for spare parts and metal.  Consider donating them to a charitable organization (may be tax deductible).  Contact your favorite charity or search online for “auto (or vehicle/truck/motorcycle/boat) donation.”  Alternatively, search the Internet under “Auto Wreckers & Salvage.”  

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X-Ray Film

There are no special disposal requirements, but they do contain a small amount of silver.  Most hospital radiology departments will accept them. 

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Yard waste (Leaves, grass, brush, Christmas trees)

Throwing away leaf & yard waste as trash is prohibited by State regulations.  Consider composting your organic materials in a backyard compost bin. 

Yoga Mats

Yoga mats are not recyclable, but can be repurposed; search the web under “yoga mat reuse,” or try posting on Freecycle.com

Additional Information


Trying to cut back on the quantity of garbage created by your household? First, recycle paper and containers. Then, consider the items which cannot go in the recycling bins but which might be composted (yard and kitchen waste), or creatively re-used (for example, using egg cartons as a child's bead collection bin). Buying products that will be used more than once can also help reduce what ends up in landfills. For example, buying a mug at the coffee shop and bringing it back every morning is one less disposable cup in the garbage every day. For more suggestions about reducing, reusing, and recycling, click here.

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Recycling Yes/No List
Plastics Recycling brochure Recyclables are sorted into two main categories: Paper and Containers. It is important that these two categories are not mixed when you bring your items to your transfer station or put them out for curbside collection. Paper recycling includes all paper products from newspapers to cardboard. Containers recycling includes most plastic, glass, and metal containers that originally held food, beverages, or personal care products. Aluminum foil might not come to mind as a container, but as long as it's clean of food debris, it can be dropped off at your transfer station with the container recycling. As much as we want to recycle everything, there are some things that cannot be recycled.  Please place these items in the garbage. Click on the two brochures listed above (under the "RECYCLING!" header) for more detailed information about what can and cannot be recycled.

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