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.
Aerosol Cans â
Aluminum Cans, Foil and Disposable Pans
Aluminum Siding (see "Scrap Metal")
Antifreeze â (see "Automotive Products")
Appliances (see "Scrap Metal")
Arts, Crafts, and Hobby Items â
Athletic Shoes (see "Shoes")
Automobiles (see "Vehicles")
Automotive Products â
Baby Food Pouches (see "Plastic Pouches")
Bags (see "Plastics and Reusable Bags")
Ballasts â ("See Mercury and Mercury Containing Products")
Beer and Soda Packaging
Bottle Caps and Lids
Bubble Wrap and Inflated Plastic Packaging (Air Pillows) (see "Plastics")
Building & Remodeling Materials
Cartons and Drink Boxes
Cartridges (see “Ink, Printer & Toner Cartridges”)
Cell Phones â
Christmas Trees (see “Yard Waste”)
Clamshells and Clear Molded Plastics (see “Plastics”)
Cleaners (see “Household Hazardous Waste”)
Clothing and Textiles
Computers and TVs (see “Electronics”)
Construction and Demolition Waste (see “Building & Remodeling Materials”)
Electronic Media (CDs, DVDs)
Fertilizers and Pesticides â (see “Household Hazardous Waste”)
Fire Extinguishers â
Fluorescent bulbs & lamps â (see “Mercury & Mercury-containing Products”)
Food Scraps (also see Cooking Oil)
Fruit Snack Pouches (see “Plastic Pouches”)
Household Hazardous Waste â
Ink, Printer and Toner Cartridges
Junk Mail and Catalogs
Latex Paint (see “Paint & Paint-related Products”)
Light Bulbs â
Mardi Gras Beads
Mattresses and Box Springs (see “Furniture”)
Medications and Pharmaceuticals â
Mercury and Mercury Containing Products â
Microwaves (see “Scrap Metal”)
Mothballs â (see “Household Hazardous Waste”)
Needles and Sharps
Packaging Materials (also see “Plastics”)
Paint and Paint Related Products â
Pallets (see wood under “Building & Remodeling Materials”)
Pellet Stove Fuel Bags
PET Food Bags, bird seed bags, Animal Feed Bags
Pressure Treated Lumber (see “Building & Remodeling Materials”)
Pyrex, Ceramic and Porcelain Products
Reusable Shopping Bags
Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors
Styrofoam (see “Plastics: Foam”)
Televisions (see “Electronics”)
Textiles (see “Clothing & Textiles”)
Thermometers and Thermostats (see “Mercury & Mercury-containing Products”)
Toothpaste Tubes, Toothbrushes
Vegetable Oil (see “Cooking Oil”)
Wood (see “Building & Remodeling Materials”)
Yard waste (Leaves, grass, brush, Christmas trees)
Looking for something that is not on this list? Here are two local resources with more information:
Springfield MRF: http://springfieldmrf.org
MassDEP’s RecycleSmart Recyclopedia: https://recyclesmartma.org
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.
As of July 1, 2020, aerosol cans of all types are not accepted in western Mass municipal recycling programs. Check with your local transfer station or recycle center to determine if EMPTY aerosols (press the trigger until no “hissing” sound can be heard) are accepted in scrap metal recycling. Aerosol cans with hazardous material in them should be brought to a household hazardous waste collection. For additional information, visit: www.mass.gov/info-details/safely-manage-hazardous-household-products.
Rinse clean & recycle with bottles & cans. Acceptable items include aluminum pie pans and take-out containers, disposable roasting pans, and clean aluminum foil (ball it up).
Call your Police Department for proper disposal instructions.
Some paints, solvents and related materials are hazardous and should be brought to a hazardous waste collection. Always check the label before tossing in the trash. Visit www.crazycrayons.com for information about crayon recycling. Terracycle offers several different mail-n programs for art supplies, markers, and pens: www.terracycle.com. Crayola ColorCycle, which accepts all brands of plastic markers, highlighters and dry erase markers, is paused for the duration of the pandemic (www.crayola.com/colorcycle).
There are strict removal & disposal requirements for asbestos. Contact the Western Region of the Mass Department of Environmental Protection: David Slowick; email@example.com, 413-755-2246. To find licensed asbestos contractors, go to www.mass.gov and type “Currently Licensed Asbestos Contractors” into the search bar
Automotive products contain many hazardous materials & must be handled with care. Do not dispose of in the trash, on the ground or down the drain.
- Motor oil
- Even a small amount of improperly disposed 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. Many auto supply stores, auto repair shops & gas stations will accept used oil even if you didn't buy it from them. Many towns accept motor oil at transfer stations or hazardous waste collections. Check with your town for local disposal and HHW collection information. Or call the MassDEP Used Oil Hotline at 617-556-1022. HRMC member-Towns that take used oil include Ashfield and Westhampton.
- Motor oil filters
- Some auto supply stores (e.g. AutoZone) or auto repair shops will recycle oil filters for free. Some towns accept motor oil filters at transfer stations. Oil filters may be thrown away or recycled as scrap metal only when the oil has been completely drained (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 thoroughly so there are no drips, put the cap back on, and throw away in the trash.
- 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 household hazardous waste collection.
- Brake fluid
- Brake fluid is hazardous and must be brought to a household hazardous waste collection.Empty bottles from this material should be thrown away (do not recycle).
Common “single-use” household batteries (alkaline, carbon zinc and zinc chloride in sizes A, AA, AAA, C & D, 9 volt, lantern size) manufactured after 1996 don’t contain mercury or other hazardous/recyclable materials & can be thrown away as trash. (Put plastic tape on 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. Never put these batteries in recycle or trash bins. Many communities have convenient drop-off options. Check you town’s website for local disposal information or search online with your zip code at www.earth911.com. All HRMC member Towns take the batteries listed below. Residents are requested to place button batteries between two pieces of clear packing tape prior to handing to your transfer station attendant. Rechargeable batteries should be placed in a clear plastic zip lock or sealable bag before handing to your transfer station attendant
- Button batteries (found in watches, hearing aids, electronics & some toys) are usually accepted free of charge by stores that sell them or at 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. Many transfer stations accept them.
- 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 be recycled properly: some municipalities accept them.
- Rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals and should never be thrown in the trash or put in municipal or commercial recycling bins. These are found in electronics that can be charged: cell phones, cordless phones, laptops, tablets, some digital cameras, camcorders, UPS battery back-ups, some toys, baby monitors, power tools, robotic vacuum cleaners, and emergency medical equipment. Also, rechargeable toothbrushes, razors, flashlights and hand-held vacuum cleaners, plus rechargeable batteries that can be recharged with a battery charger. Many local transfer stations accept rechargeable batteries. Home Depot, Lowes, and Staples stores 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.
Although it looks like paper boxboard, beer and soda packaging contains an invisible layer of plastic (to stay strong when wet) and is NOT recyclable.
Working bicycles in good condition can be offered to charities (search online via “bicycle donation”) or private organizations (e.g. www.pedalpeople.coop) that will use them, or may be gifted to individuals free via an online sharing group (e.g. Freecycle.org or a Buy Nothing Facebook group). For recycling options, see “scrap metal.”
See more under Vehicles Boats might be accepted in bulky waste collections at some municipal transfer stations, or if metal, at scrap metal dealers. Call first. All automotive-type fluids must be drained and properly disposed of.
Books in good condition may be sold at used bookstores, donated to little free libraries, public libraries, or a book exchange, or dropped off at your local recycling/transfer station’s swap shop (may be closed due to pandemic) or book donation box. Reader to Reader, an Amherst-based non-profit, provides library-quality books to U.S. schools and public libraries (www.readertoreader.org). Roundabout Books (Greenfield) accepts books in any condition; donations are sorted for local and mail-order sale and all types of unsalable books (including hardcovers) are recycled at a local paper mill. Also accepted: CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records in working condition (www.roundaboutbookstore.com; 413-773-0820).
Paperback books & phonebooks unsuitable for reuse CAN be recycled in municipal recycling programs. However, the covers and spines from hardcover books are NOT recyclable; rip the pages out and recycle those; place the spine and covers in the trash.
Plastic caps & lids are recyclable only if fastened to a plastic bottle/jar/jug/tub. Loose plastic tops should be placed in the trash; small items cause safety hazards and shutdowns at recycling facilities because they get caught in the sorting equipment. Metal lids, like those from glass jars, should be attached to the container. Metal lids from food cans should be pushed inside the can or recycled loose.
- Clean cardboard, boxboard, paperboard boxes are recyclable (e.g., boxes from cereal, crackers, tissues, shoes, gifts, etc.) Attached plastic windows may stay, but discard plastic liners.
- Flatten Pizza Boxes: A 2020 study by West Rock (a major US corrugated cardboard manufacturer) found that grease on pizza boxes does NOT cause problems for recycled paper manufacturers, as previously thought. If your community delivers recyclables to the Springfield MRF, it is now OK to put the ENTIRE pizza box into recycling…but it MUST be empty (no crusts, food, foil, plastic, or waxed paper). Check with your community for their latest guidelines. Link to the study: https://tinyurl.com/pizzaboxes2020
- Frozen food boxes, ice cream cartons, 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 or composting process and must go in the trash.
Construction & demolition (“C&D”) waste includes asphalt, asphalt shingles, bricks, cement, cinder blocks, clapboard, concrete, doors, flooring, insulation, lumber, mortar, plaster, plywood, roofing, sheetrock, tiles, windows & wood. Fee-based disposal options are available at most recycling/transfer stations; call your community representative for more information. Vehicles with a capacity greater than 5 cubic yards are subject to strict disposal requirements for C&D wastes in MA. For more information: www.mass.gov/lists/managing-construction-demolition-cd-wastes.
Used building materials (in good condition) can be donated for re-use. The following organizations will accept some reusable items. Call prior to delivery to confirm that your materials will be accepted, or to arrange for free pickup. Deconstruction services may be offered. Items might be tax-deductible.
- EcoBuilding Bargains, 83 Warwick St., Springfield, MA (413-788-6900; ecobuildingbargains.org)
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Westfield: 301 East Main St., Westfield, MA 01085 (413-642-8990; www.habitatspringfield.org/restore
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 (Greenfield: 413-774-5631), Index Packaging (NH: 800-662-3626), 360 Recycling (Westfield: 413-562-0193).
Note: pressure-treated wood should only be disposed of in a modern landfill. Do not put it in a backyard compost pile, a brush or chipping pile; do not burn it or send it to a waste incinerator for disposal. Check your town’s website for bulky waste disposal options.
Staples stores, Best Buy stores, and many electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programs accept digital cameras for free. Canon has a mail-in recycling program: shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/recycling.
Canning jars (e.g. mason jars) are not recyclable because of the thick, heat resistant 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.
This category includes “gable top” cartons for milk and orange juice, Tetra-Pak and other “aseptic packaging” for almond milk, soup, and juice boxes). Cartons are acceptable in single stream recycling programs in western Mass. In dual stream recycling programs, “paper” cartons should be recycled with bottles, cans, and containers. Rinse cartons. Discard straws; plastic caps & spouts may remain on carton.
Ice cream cartons are not accepted in recycling. Don’t include foil drink pouches (e.g., Capri Sun, Honest Kids) in municipal recycling. See “Plastic Pouches” in this guide for recycling options.
Cell phones should not be put in the trash due to their reuse value & hazardous/recyclable components. Do not put cell phones in recycle bins. 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 recycling, and many cell phone manufacturers offer buy-back programs through the mail. Many municipal transfer stations also accept them for special recycling, as do Home Depot, Lowes, and Staples stores.
Terracycle’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.
Local reuse & donation opportunities exist for all textiles & shoes. Deliver CLEAN & DRY textiles & clothing to drop-off boxes serviced by organizations such as the Salvation Army (easternusa.salvationarmy.org) & donation centers such as Goodwill Industries (www.goodwill.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, toss pillows, light 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 Towns have Salvation Army boxes located at their transfer stations.
Bras can be donated to Salvation Army or Goodwill; any items that are not in good condition will be baled and sold for textile recycling. New & gently used bras can be mailed to The Bra Recyclers for distribution to women in transition around the world: www.brarecycling.com; 480-988-2283.
Some non-profit organizations target specific types of clothing to benefit those in need, such as professional clothing and wedding dresses (https://westernmass.dressforsuccess.org ; www.donatemyweddingdress.org).
Do not put hangers in recycling bins: hangers get caught in machinery at recycling facilities. Some charitable organizations 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 and should be thrown away when they are no longer useable.
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.
Never pour cooking oil down the drain. Liquids should be kept out of trash, recycling, and municipal compost bins. Lifecycle Renewables accepts vegetable oil by appointment from individuals. It also provides containers and pays for the oil at food service providers: 888-461-9831, https://lifecyclerenewables.com . Lifecycle Renewables' used cooking oil is transformed into replacements for fossil fuels. Western Mass Rendering provides dumpsters for large collections: www.westernmassrendering.com; 413-569-6265.
Corks should not be put in recycling bins, carts, or dumpsters. 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); Ryan & Casey Liquors in Greenfield is a ReCork collection site. River Valley Co-op in Northampton has a Cork ReHarvest collection box (www.corkforest.org/cork-reharvest). Wine corks can be reused in many creative ways (search online for “cork art”).
Not recyclable in municipal recycling programs. Mail-in recycling programs for empty cosmetics containers can be found at www.terracycle.com and www.maccosmetics.com/giving_back/back_to_mac.tmpl..
If your community sends their recyclables to the Springfield MRF for processing, rinsed clear plastic cups may now be included in household recycling (no lids or straws). Other types of plastic cups are NOT acceptable for recycling: polystyrene (#6 plastic), colored keg cups, and opaque plastic cups. All HRMC member Towns send their recyclables to the Springfield MRF.
If a clear cup is labeled “compostable,” it should NOT go in recycling. Compostable cups may go in municipal or commercial compost programs. These products are not designed to compost in home compost bins or piles.
Paper cups are not recyclable and must be placed in the trash. Some paper coffee cups are designed to be compostable in municipal or commercial compost programs; check for text that says “BPI certified” or “compostable.”
Clear plastic egg cartons may be recycled with bottles & cans. Paper & Styrofoam egg cartons are not recyclable, but are often reused by backyard chicken farmers. Paper cartons may be composted in municipal compost collections or in home compost bins, if ripped into pieces.
Do not add electronic media to your household recycling. CD cases 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.
State regulations prohibit disposal of screen-based electronics such as laptops, tablets, iPads, Kindles, flat screen TVs, monitors and CRTs (cathode ray tubes) in household trash. Most municipal transfer stations offer electronics recycling programs, although disposal fees may apply. Electronics that are mostly metal, such as computer towers and DVD players, can also go in scrap metal recycling at transfer stations and recycle centers. All HRMC member Towns have electronics recycling programs.
Staples stores accept computer-related electronic waste for free recycling; call your local store for details. Staples does not accept TVs. Best Buy accepts a wide range of electronic waste for free recycling, and also offers a trade-in reuse program. Best Buy accepts TVs for a fee. For more information, call your local store or visit their website and search for “recycling.” Computer manufacturers sometimes offer electronics recycling or trade-in programs, visit their websites for details. Various charities and non-profits accept donations of working electronics, including local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores. Always call ahead to ask if they can accept your item.
Call your Police Department for proper disposal instructions.
Due to the pandemic, Lion’s Club eyeglass collection boxes have been removed from Post Office lobbies. Eyeglass frames and prescription lenses can be mailed to: Lions Clubs International Headquarters, 300 W. 22nd Street, Oak Brook, IL 60523. In addition, eyeglasses may be dropped in a collection box at a participating Walmart Vision Center. If reuse is not appropriate, eyeglasses should be placed in household trash, as they are not recyclable.
Fire extinguishers are considered hazardous because their contents are under pressure. Units manufactured prior to 1984 may contain dangerous chemicals. All HRMC member Towns take empty household fire extinguishers for recycling. Other disposal and recycling options include:
- Businesses & property managers can contact their fire control service provider.
- Some municipal transfer stations accept newer fire extinguishers for special recycling along with propane tanks; check your town website or call your DPW for local information.
- Some municipal hazardous waste collections may accept older fire extinguishers: ask before bringing them to a collection.
- MA Fire Technologies accepts all types of fire extinguishers for a small fee (49 Heywood Ave, West Springfield; https://massfire.com, 800-244-6769).
- New England Disposal Technologies (Westfield, MA) accepts fire extinguishers year-round for modest fees (www.nedt.org; 866-769-1621).
Live fireworks are extremely dangerous and must be disposed of with great caution; call your local Fire Department. Do not throw unused fireworks in the trash.
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, senior centers or Scout troops.
(see “Mercury & Mercury-containing Products”)
Food scraps and leftovers are heavy to transport and contribute to climate change when they decompose in landfills; composting food waste makes better environmental sense. Local composting options include home composting, municipal transfer station programs (in Amherst, Bernardston, Conway, Deerfield, Greenfield, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Wendell & Whately); and (where available) curbside pick-up by a private waste hauler. Find a hauler near you at: https://recyclingworksma.com. Many municipalities offer discounted purchase programs for countertop collection pails and home compost bins; check your town website or call your DPW for local information. For home composting instructions, visit www.mass.gov and search for “home compost.” All HRMC member Towns provide Earth Machine compost bins for sale. Email HRMC with your name, residential address (mailing address if different), and town to be place on the order list.
Furniture in good condition can be sold or donated for reuse. Donating mattresses & box springs can be difficult, as most charities don’t accept them. When you purchase a new mattress, ask the retailer to take back and recycle the old one. Some transfer stations in western MA accept mattresses for recycling; fees apply.
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 drinking glasses
Contact local golf courses or driving ranges to see if they will accept them for reuse.
Cards are recyclable with paper if they do not contain foil or metallic inks. Remove electronics from singing greeting cards & recycle button batteries in battery recycling programs (see “Batteries”). St. Jude’s Ranch for Children runs a greeting card reuse program; note restrictions on certain brands: https://stjudesranch.org/recycled-card-program.
The National Hearing Aid Project accepts used hearing aids for refurbishment and distribution to those that need them: https://hearingaiddonations.org, 816-895-2410. If your hearing aid is not worth salvaging, remove the button battery and recycle it in a battery recycling program (see “Batteries”), then place the hearing aid in the trash.
First, consider using up the product according to package directions, or giving it away to someone who will. Products with warnings & words like caustic, toxic, corrosive, poison, flammable, danger & “keep out of reach of children” on the label require special handling. Check with your town website or call your DPW for local HHW collection information. HRMC holds an annual HHW event for their member Towns and offers additional reciprocal events with other western Mass communities. New England Disposal Technologies (Westfield, MA) accepts many household hazardous wastes year-round for modest fees (www.nedt.org; 866-769-1621). For safe alternatives to hazardous household products visit: https://www.lesstoxicguide.ca, or www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/ecofriendly-cleaning.
Local schools & non-profit organizations such as the Cancer Connection in Northampton often collect cartridges for fundraising purposes, and Staples accepts used cartridges for reuse or recycling (earn Staples rewards). Other options may be found via a search on earth911.com or find mail-in donation programs via an online search (“cartridge donations”).
Unwanted mail & catalogs are recyclable, but it makes more sense to reduce them at the source:
- DirectMail.com provides a free service to remove your name from commercial mailing lists (www.directmail.com/mail_preference);
- Catalog Choice is a free service to stop delivery of unwanted catalogs (www.catalogchoice.org);
- OptOutPrescreen.com offers a free service to end pre-approved credit card & insurance offers (http://www.optoutprescreen.com);
- Yellow Pages Opt Out provides a free service to take your name off phonebook mailing lists (www.yellowpagesoptout.com)
Old keys can be recycled via a scrap metal dumpster at a municipal transfer station (see pages XX for local contact information), or brought to a local scrap metal dealer.
(see “Paint and Paint Related Products”)
Fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs [“CFLs”] contain mercury vapor and 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; check your town website or call your DPW for local information. Old fashioned incandescent light bulbs and Halogen light bulbs are not recyclable. Carefully wrap incandescent light bulbs in used paper or plastic before placing them in the trash. All HRMC member Towns accept fluorescent and compact fluorescent bulbs at their transfer stations.
Holiday light strings are NOT accepted in municipal recycling programs because they get wrapped around sorting equipment. Some scrap metal dealers and scrap metal dumpsters at transfer stations will accept them for recycling. Broken light strings can be mailed to Christmas Light Source (http://bit.ly/2qkCIMu) or Holiday LEDs (http://bit.ly/2sJqSMJ) for a discount on a future order.
Mail Mardi Gras beads and trinkets to the Arc of Greater New Orleans’ reuse program: ArcGNO, 925 Labarre Road, Metairie, LA 70001 (www.arcgno.org; 504-324-1919).
Disposal of unwanted medication must be done carefully for several important reasons. Medications should NOT be poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet. Wastewater treatment plants & septic systems are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater. Medications should not be thrown in the trash; see below.
Help stop prescription drug misuse and abuse. Bring your unwanted, expired, or unused medications to one of the sites below for safe disposal.
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, Bernardston, Buckland, Chicopee, Cummington, Deerfield, Easthampton, East Longmeadow, Erving, Goshen, Granby, Greenfield, Hadley, Hampden, Hatfield, Holyoke, Leverett, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Montague, Northampton, Orange, Palmer, Pelham, South Hadley, Southampton, Southwick, Sunderland, Ware, West Springfield, Westfield, Whately, Wilbraham, and Williamsburg. You do not need to be a resident to use the drop boxes in any of these towns.
Accepted items: prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins and veterinary meds. NO liquids, syringes (see ”Needles & Sharps” below), IV equipment or chemotherapy drugs. For more information visitwww.northwesternda.org/addiction-recovery/pages/drug-drop-boxes.
Many national chain pharmacies have free drop boxes for prescription medications. Call your local store for availability or search a DEA listing of disposal sites at https://tinyurl.com/deadisp. For acceptable items, see signage on the drop boxes, call stores or visit pharmacy websites. Some stores that do not have drop boxes offer the DisposeRX program: https://disposerx.com
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days are scheduled for every April and October.DEA's next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 24, 2021, from 10AM to 2PM. Find an upcoming collection by visiting www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.
If you are truly 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 rubbing alcohol (pour liquid medication into a container of 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 or bringing to a collection or drop box. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so.
Due to their small size, 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 is highly toxic and requires special disposal. It is not hazardous when contained in a sealed device. Reduce exposure by placing items in sealed plastic bags & handling them carefully to avoid breakage. Never put mercury (or items containing mercury) in trash or recycling bins, on the ground, or down a drain. Don’t vacuum even the smallest spill. Instructions for handling mercury exposure can be found at: www.mass.gov; enter “mercury” in the search bar, or search the web for “broken CFL” or “mercury spill.” Call the Mass DEP Mercury Hotline if you have questions about mercury or managing it safely: 866-9MERCURY (866-963-7287).Check your town website for local disposal information for the below list of items. HRMC member Towns accept all of these items at their transfer stations:
- 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 and styles, and can be encased by an outer glass bulb. Accepted at most municipal transfer stations and some Hazardous Waste Collections. Free CFL recycling is offered at Home DepotandLowe’s Stores.
- Larger fluorescent tubes are the types that do not 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 most municipal transfer stations and some Hazardous Waste Collections. Straight lamps and others are accepted at Lowe’s: handle carefully and place in the collection box that is located in Lowe’s lobby.
- Many older household thermometers (fever, candy, meat, deep fry, oven, temperature) can contain liquid mercury. A mercury thermometer can be identified by the presence of a silver bulb at the end of a glass tube. Accepted in special programs at many municipal transfer stations and some Hazardous Waste Collections. Handle carefully and seal in a plastic bag. If the thermometer liquid and bulb is red, blue, purple or green, it is not a mercury thermometer and it can go in the trash.
- Updating to a programmable thermostat? Don’t throw away your old wall-mounted thermostats: they contain a significant amount of liquid mercury. Leave thermostats in one piece, place in a sealed plastic bag, and handle carefully to avoid breakage. In addition to municipal collection programs, mercury thermostats are accepted for free recycling at many plumbing retail stores (search by zip code using “Plumbing Supplies”). For more locations, go to http://www.thermostat-recycle.org.
- Most fluorescent light fixtures produced before 1979 contained ballasts with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a highly toxic substance. PCB-free ballasts are marked “No PCBs.” PCB ballasts are typically collected at the same sites as larger fluorescent tube-type bulbs. Non-PCB ballasts are safe to go into trash or bulky waste, but are often not accepted in scrap metal recycling bins.
(see “Scrap Metal”)
(see “Household Hazardous Waste”)
(see “Automotive Products”)
Donate used musical instruments to Hungry for Music (hungryformusic.org), and they will distribute them to underserved children in the US & abroad. Buy reused instruments locally by searching online.
MA Sanitary Code states that 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 Health Department or see a listing of all the sharps programs in the state, go to www.mass.gov and type “needle disposal” in the search bar. Sharps containers are available for purchase at pharmacies, and mail-in or pick up option is available. Several mail-in disposal programs are available; search online for “sharps mail-in programs.” Stericycle is an example of a company that picks up sharps for safe disposal from businesses that generate sharps: www.stericycle.com or 866-783-7422.
Recycle through Terracycle (www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/nitrile-gloves-brigade.html).
(also see “Plastics”)
Online purchasing has increased the amount of packaging in the waste stream. Most of these materials are reusable; some are also recyclable:
- Cardboard boxes can be reused, & flattened boxes can be recycled in municipal recycling programs.
- Foam peanuts: see “Plastics”
- Cornstarch peanuts may be composted in a backyard bin, reused, or placed in the trash. However, these are not accepted by commercial composting facilities or at packing shipping stores.
- Styrofoam blocks & shapes: see “Plastics”
- Packing paper is reusable as well as recyclable.
- Plastic sealed air packaging and bubble wrap arereusable. Once deflated, they can be recycled with plastic bags (see “plastics” for retail store recycling programs). Accepted for reuse by some pack & ship stores.
- Amazon’s plastic envelope mailers are recyclable with plastic bags (see “plastics” for retail store recycling programs). Remove or cut out paper labels.
If your unwanted paint was purchased recently & it's in good condition, consider donating it for reuse instead of throwing it away. Many school or community theatre groups will accept quality paint products. You may also offer useable paint via an online sharing group (e.g. Freecycle.org or a Buy Nothing Facebook group).
- Petroleum (oil-based) paints, stains, thinners, & varnishes are considered hazardous materials, requiring proper disposal.
- New England Disposal Technologies (Westfield, MA) accepts all types of paint year-round for modest fees (nedt.org; 866-769-1621).
- Latex paint & water-based stains 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 the contents are no longer liquid, you can put the open paint can (without the lid) in your household trash
(see wood under "Building and Remodeling Materials")
Recycled Crafts recycles pantyhose, nylon knee-highs, and tights into pet toys, rugs, placemats, and table runners. They accept clean hosiery in any condition, even those with rips and snags. Email email@example.com for donation information, or visit: savemyhosiery.yolasite.com. Hosiery is also accepted in textile recycling programs, see “Clothing & Textiles.”
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.
Due to a lack of end markets, all local recycling programs for pellet bags have been stopped. Plastic bags should never go into municipal recycling programs. Some retail store plastic bag recycling programs will accept pellet bags (call first). Pellet bags must be dry and completely EMPTY. Turn inside out, flatten and stack empty bags, roll up the stack and place the roll in an empty pellet bag. Ask your pellet supplier about bulk delivery (which eliminates bags), recycling programs, or take back programs.
Plastic bags that contained pet food, animal feed, or bird seed are not recyclable in municipal recycling or in plastic bag recycling programs at retail stores. Unfortunately, neither are paper feed bags because they are lined with plastic to keep moisture out of the feed. However, Terracycle offers a few pet food bag recycling programs, some of which have local drop-off points. Go to www.terracycle.com and type “pet food bags” in the search bar. The Bag Share Project, a local group, accepts certain types of feed bags for reuse, and provides instruction on how to make bags: www.thebagshare.org.
Traditional, glossy photographs are not acceptable in recycling because of the photographic chemical coatings in the paper. Old photographs are safe to throw in the trash. More modern photographs may or may not be recyclable depending on the printing process and the type of paper used. Home-printed photographs are acceptable in recycling.
Pizza Boxes: A 2020 study by West Rock (a major US corrugated cardboard manufacturer) found that grease on pizza boxes does NOT cause problems for recycled paper manufacturers, as previously thought. If your community delivers recycling to the Springfield MRF, it is now OK to put the ENTIRE pizza box into recycling…but it MUST be empty (no crusts, food, foil, plastic, or waxed paper). Check with your community for their latest guidelines. Link to the study: https://tinyurl.com/pizzaboxes2020
Flexible plastic pouches, that contained applesauce/fruit, yogurt, baby food, and health/beauty products, are NOT recyclable in municipal recycling programs. Terracycle runs several different mail-in recycling programs for pouches and caps; go to: www.terracycle.com and type “pouches” in the search bar. Please remove all residual food and liquid.
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, cause problems at recycling facilities, are unwanted by manufacturers or are recyclable only through separate recycling programs. Please do not add these to your household or municipal recycling mix:
- Plastic bags, plastic wraps
- Black plastic (microwavable containers, food trays, etc.)
- Forks, spoons, knives & serving utensils
- Plastic plates and colored/opaque plastic cups (clear plastic cups are accepted in recycling unless labeled “Compostable”)
- Tubes (e.g. toothpaste, cosmetics, hair products)
- Plastic containers greater than 2.5 gallons in size
- Plastic containers which once held toxic substances (e.g. motor oil)
- Containers or cups labeled "biodegradable" or "compostable"
- Foam (aka Styrofoamô) items (cups, egg cartons, food containers/trays, & packing material)
- Molded plastic packaging (the stiff type that requires a sharp object to open)
- Binders, folders & plastic-coated (usually shiny) paper
- CDs, DVDs and cases, video & audio tapes
- Plant pots & garden trays
- Six-pack rings (cut them up & then put in trash)
- 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.
PLASTIC BAG RECYCLING IN RETAIL STORES ONLY:
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:
NO - DO NOT RECYCLE in stores:
What about pellet stove fuel bags? See “Pellet Bags” in this guide.
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.
Larger varieties of propane tanks can be refilled, and many businesses that sell propane will accept tanks for reuse under specific conditions. Tanks are recyclable in special programs at transfer stations or recycling centers. Do not put tanks in scrap metal dumpsters, in household recycling, or trash. Do not puncture. Close the valves on barbeque grill size tanks. Some recyclers also accept small camping type tanks. All HRMC member Towns accept empty propane tanks for recycling. Check your town website for local information or find commercial options at www.earth911.com.
Offer for reuse. Do not recycle; dispose as trash. Colorful ceramic/porcelain items (even broken ones) are sometimes used by local arts centers or craftspeople, so a phone call or a post to an online sharing group (e.g. Freecycle.org or a Buy Nothing Facebook group) may help extend their usefulness.
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.
Many metal items (like bicycles or BBQ grills) can be repaired, sold or donated to extend their useful life. Because of the usefulness and value of metal, 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, helium tanks, ballasts, air conditioners and refrigerators, and automotive parts require special handling due to toxic or pressurized materials. Many municipal transfer stations and recycling centers (including all HRMC member Towns) have scrap metal dumpsters for the recycling of scrap metal. Check your town website for local municipal disposal information. Or, search online under “metal recycling” for the scrap yard nearest you and its requirements. Suitable scrap items should be mostly metal by weight; if possible, plastic parts should be removed.
Clean, gently used shoes are usually accepted for reuse and resale by organizations that collect clothing donations. Several organizations, such as One World Running (http://oneworldrunning.com), specialize in shoe reuse; visit a donation organization’s website to discover if they accept worn shoes. Rerun Shoes accepts used running shoes at a Pioneer Valley drop spot, and can coordinate shoe drive fundraisers, visit www.rerunshoes.com or call (413) 230-3032. DSW Warehouse shoe stores have Soles4souls donation boxes: https://soles4souls.org.
As of July 1, 2020, shredded paper is no longer accepted in western Massachusetts’ household/municipal recycling programs. To get confidential documents shredded and recycled, bring them to area businesses (e.g. copy shops, office supply, and shipping stores) for secure shredding. In addition, Valley Green Shredding in Westfield offers drop-off services (valleygreenshredding.com; 413-461-3333). Local banks often sponsor free spring and fall shredding events. The material that is shredded in these programs is delivered directly to paper mills, which avoids the scattering and contamination that ensues at a household recycling facility. Otherwise, dispose of shredded paper as trash. Paper shreds that are free of plastic and receipts can go in municipal compost programs, where allowed.
Remove all non-alkaline batteries and dispose of them appropriately (see ”Batteries”). Most household smoke detectors contain a small amount of a radioactive element, Americium-241. The quantity in each unit is considered harmless, but its presence is worrisome enough that retailer and manufacturer take-back programs exist. Ask at your local store or google the manufacturer’s name with “smoke detector recycling” for program and shipping details. Curie Environmental Services offers a fee-based, mail-in smoke alarm recycling program, see www.curieservices.com. Some communities allow smoke detectors to be thrown away in the bulky waste container at a recycling/transfer station. Check your town website for local information. All HRMC member Towns accept smoke detectors for disposal but you are requested to hand them to the attendant.
Carbon monoxide detectors are not considered hazardous and can be safely disposed of in the trash after removing (and recycling) all non-alkaline batteries
Sporting equipment exchange/donation options are found locally via charitable organizations such as schools, Scout troops, or the Lion’s Club. Sharing via online groups (e.g. Freecycle.org or a Buy Nothing Facebook group) has become very popular.
Check with your local animal shelter or elementary school to see if they accept tennis ball donations (schools use them to reduce the noise and impact of chairs/desks on floors). A mail-in recycling program is available at tennisballrecycling.com.
These items are not recyclable in household/municipal recycling, but Terracycle runs mail-in recycling programs that accepts them, along with floss containers, and some packaging (www.terracycle.com). Preserve® brand toothbrushes can be mailed for recycling (www.preserve.eco ).
Contact your local trophy shop to see if they can reuse your old trophies. A Wisconsin-based trophy organization offers a fee based, mail-in reuse program; go to www.awardsmall.com and search for “recycling.” A Massachusetts company accepts only sports medals/medallions (visit sportsmedalrecycling.com)
Tyvek envelopes (large, white envelopes that won’t rip: often from express shipments) are made of high-density polyethylene plastic. Do not put Tyvek material in municipal/household recycling, or in the plastic bag recycling programs at grocery stores.
Tyvek envelopes can be stuffed into a box or a Tyvek envelope and mailed to a recycler who can handle them. For quantities less than 25, mail to: CFS Recycling, 337 A Industrial Drive, Petersburg, VA 23803. For quantities larger than 25, call 1-800/44-TYVEK.
Glass vases are not recyclable. Donate to a local garden club, swap shop, or local florist(s) for reuse (call first).
Old vehicles, even inoperable ones, are valued for spare parts and metal. Consider donating them to a charitable organization (might 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.”
There are no special disposal requirements, but x-rays do contain a small amount of silver. Many hospital radiology departments will accept them for recycling.
Throwing away leaf & yard waste as trash is prohibited by State regulations. Some communities collect organic yard waste seasonally for wood chip production or composting; Check your town website for local information. Goat farmers often accept bare Christmas trees as food. Visit www.mass.gov/composting-organics to learn about composting yard waste in your backyard.
Yoga mats are not recyclable, but can be repurposed. Search the web for “yoga mat reuse,” or offer via an online sharing group (e.g. Freecycle.org or a Buy Nothing Facebook group).