Don’t throw out the recycling guide

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The white 11 x 17 insert entitled Suffield Recycling and Disposal Guide should help you quickly determine how to treat common household items you’re ready to discard.

Put it in a drawer, post it to your refrigerator with a magnet or tack it to the inside door of a kitchen cabinet.

The guide is filled with recycling do’s and don’ts, but here’s how you can help most when managing your recyclables:

  1. When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t put what you think is recyclable into your blue recycling cart. That can lead to contaminated loads that are trashed.
  2. Don’t bag recyclables and pitch the bags into your blue cart. USA Hauling will throw them away. Bags can jam conveyors leading to downtime and repairmen injuries.
  3. Don’t toss rechargeable batteries into your black trash cart or blue recycling cart. They’re the leading cause of fires at processing facilities and can cause serious worker injuries. Collect and deposit the batteries in specified bins at Staples, Home Depot or the landfill.
  4. Don’t recycle items smaller than 2” in diameter. They’re apt to slip through gaps in the recycling conveyors and contaminate other loads. Throw them out instead.

Compiling the guide took me at least 70 hours of research, layout, Zoom meetings and phone calls. My contact at USA Hauling, which picks up Suffield’s trash and recyclables, was Brian Popovich, who helped me with an earlier Suffield Observer recycling editorial. By Zoom, I reviewed every entry in the guide with him. He later had a group of USA Hauling managers check his conclusions. At the Suffield landfill, manager Joe Duval served a similar role. I phoned and emailed many questions, which both men dutifully answered quickly. I was impressed with how the two shared my desire to make the guide as accurate as possible.

The biggest surprise was that Suffield can now recycle styrofoam at the Agawam Gold Circuit E-Cycling facility, around the corner from Geissler’s.

Most helpful in refining the guide and adding items I missed were the dedicated volunteers at Sustainable Suffield (See the separate article about that town task force on page 1 in this issue). Chairwoman Anna-Kristin Daub-Murphy suggested substituting graphics for words in the guide’s intro, which made it more inviting. She recommended entries to combine. She proved to be an excellent proofreader, along with my wife Ellen, and helped organize the suggestions for improvement from two other Sustainable Suffield members, Ginny Bromage and Etienne d’Otreppe. Their worthy recommendations are too numerous to mention. They all deserve a heartfelt “Thank you!”

Understand that what is and isn’t recyclable changes as new technologies emerge that allow for finer separation and use of materials. For example, the USA Hauling facility in Berlin, CT, which sorts and bales our recyclables, accepts black plastic and ice cream containers. Other sorting facilities in CT and MA don’t. But, the two-year-old $40 million Berlin plant uses more advanced lasers and optical sorters.

So, we’ll need to update the recycling and disposal guide in the future. Meanwhile, you can pick up extra copies at the landfill, town hall, senior center, parks and recreation office and library. It’s also available for download at

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