Recycling Contamination Is Real, And We Need Your Help

As you’ve probably heard by now (from us, in the news, talking with friends), there’s a bit of a crisis in the recycling industry.

We need your help!  We’re sharing this recent letter from our recycling facility, E.L. Harvey, in Westboro, to help keep full transparency:

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The cost of recycling has already jumped above our disposal cost for trash, and E.L. Harvey has notified us that they will be assessing contamination charges if our customers do not keep their recycling clean.

Do your part to follow the above Recycling DO’s and DON’Ts to help keep our recycling as clean as possible so your contaminated recycling doesn’t make everyone else’s end up in the trash!

Remember – When in Doubt, Leave it Out!

Thank you for being valued customers and helping us tackle this recycling crisis!

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Important Recycling Information

We wanted to share an article from USA Today featuring our recycling facility, E.L. Harvey & Sons in Westborough, to help educate our customers about a growing crisis in the waste services industry affecting recycling programs across the US.  In the past, Mr. Trashman has allowed extra recyclables outside of what fits in your toter, but you may see we have to start limiting how much recycling we are able to collect each week since our recycling costs have now reached levels comparable to trash.

Want to know what you can do to help? This article has 4 easy tips for how you can help reduce the items you put out and the contamination they cause. We also encourage you to review the What’s Recyclable? page on our website to find out what should/should not be recycled in your curbside toter.

Mountains of U.S. recycling pile up as China restricts imports

After you collect your cans, bottles and paper, then put them out by the curb, do you ever think about where everything goes after the truck picks things up? Largely, it goes to China.

Every day, nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables leave U.S. ports bound for China. China sends the U.S. toys, clothes and electronics; in return, some of America’s largest exports back are paper, plastic and aluminum.

But that equation is changing as of Jan. 1 — China is enforcing its new “National Sword” policy, which bans 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics and unsorted mixed papers, and sets a much tougher standard for contamination levels.

China notified the World Trade Organization about the ban in July, essentially saying the country would no longer act as the world’s trash dump. Currently, China consumes 55% of the world’s scrap paper and is a major destination for other recyclables.

The National Sword policy follows China’s “Green Fence,” a 10-month policy the country enacted five years ago, which set initial standards for lower contamination levels for recycling.

The ban will undoubtedly hurt recycling operators in China that rely on the import of raw materials. But delivering a cleaner China is paramount for Communist Party politicians.

The National Sword is also already being felt throughout the U.S. About a 45-minute drive west of Boston in the city of Westborough, Massachusetts, bales of paper are stacking up in a parking lot.

“We’re looking at 150 to 200 tractor trailer loads of paper. It’s stacked approximately 12 feet high, and it goes for quite a distance,” says Ben Harvey, president of E.L. Harvey & Sons, a family-run business since 1911.

To be clear: This situation is not normal.

“No, our business is to bring it in, process it and move it out as quickly as we can,” says Harvey.

Harvey can’t sell the 2,000-pound bales to China because the contamination levels — the trash that’s accidentally mixed in, something like the remnants of a greasy pizza box that gets thrown in with the recycling — almost certainly exceed China’s rigorous new standards. If he had continued putting bales on ships a few weeks ago, they wouldn’t have reached China until the ban would’ve already been in effect on Jan. 1.

Harvey is hoping that China and the U.S. can work out a deal or he can find other processing mills in Vietnam or Thailand. Selling the material in the U.S. simply isn’t an option.

“Because everything was going offshore, the mills have been slow to develop in the United States to handle this material,” Harvey says. “With the tightness in the marketplace, there might be mills that will be built, but that takes four to five to six years to put in a mill that will handle the capacity that we’re currently looking at.”

In the meantime, he’s growing increasingly concerned as the bales of paper take over more and more of his parking lot.

“If this stuff doesn’t move, and we don’t know what to do with it, we can’t keep it forever,” he says. “At some point, it’s going to start to degrade. The other thing that could happen is that if we can’t find outlets — and I’m not talking about just E.L. Harvey & Sons, I’m talking about the industry as a whole — we’re going to stop bringing material into our facilities. And that’s going to impact recycling programs throughout the country.”

In other words, trucks could stop collecting our curbside recycling.

Read the full article in USA Today.

2018 New Years Holiday Service Schedule

New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1st) is a holiday observed by Mr. Trashman.  All routes will be one day behind for the remainder of the week.  See below:

  • Regular Monday pickups will be collected on Tuesday
  • Regular Tuesday pickups will be collected on Wednesday
  • Regular Wednesday pickups will be collected on Thursday
  • Regular Thursday pickups will be collected on Friday
  • Regular Friday pickups will be collected on Saturday

Don’t forget to place your wrapping paper in your recycling toter and either tie cardboard in a bundle or break down and fold all cardboard into one larger cardboard box to make eat easier for us to haul away!

As a reminder, Mr. Trashman does NOT provide a Christmas tree pickup and disposal service.  To help, we’ve posted some information on our blog for how you can dispose of your tree.

The 2018 holiday service schedule is now available on our website. Take a look and plan ahead for the coming year.

Happy New Year and thanks for a great 2017!

Holiday Tree Disposal Help

The holidays are upon us and many of our homes are adorned with real, beautiful Christmas trees. They bring joy, and hold years of ornaments and memories… then ultimately leave a path of needles and mess that we want out of the house as soon as the calendar has turned.

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Since Mr. Trashman does NOT provide a Christmas tree pickup and disposal service, we wanted to direct you to some ideas of what to do with your tree this year:

For residents in –

  • Stow: Boy Scout Troop 1
    •  http://troop1stow.net/
    • Christmas tree pickup is $10 per tree and checks made payable to Troop 1 Stow can be mailed to Troop 1 Stow, PO Box 75, Stow, MA 01775. Please make your tree pickup reservation by January 3. Put trees at the end of your driveway starting 1/12/18. Please contact us by phone at 978-212-9175 or by email at treepickup@troop1stow.net
  • Southborough: Boy Scouts
    • Any Southboro customers who would like their tree picked up this year must email troop1trees@gmail.com or call 508-330-2361. The cost is $10 per tree.  Email or phone message must include: Name, Phone Number, and Address.  Requests will be taken until 8PM the day before pickup. Pickup this year will be on Saturday, January 6th, 2018. The service is free for Veterans, Police/Fire Personnel and Seniors.

Don’t forget to place your wrapping paper in your recycling toter and either tie cardboard in a bundle or break down and fold all cardboard into one larger cardboard box to make eat easier for us to haul away!

Memorial Day Holiday Service Schedule

As a reminder, Memorial Day (Monday, May 29th) is a holiday observed by Mr. Trashman and all pickups will be delayed 1 day that week. See below for your pickup day during the holiday week.

—ALL SERVICE WILL BE DELAYED 1 DAY—

Monday routes will be picked up on:

  • Tuesday, May 30

Tuesday routes will be picked up on:

  • Wednesday, May 31

Wednesday routes will be picked up on:

  • Thursday, June 1

Thursday routes will be picked up on:

  • Friday, June 2

Friday routes will be picked up on:

  • Saturday, June 3

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Want to stay up to date on which holidays are observed by Mr. Trashman? Remember to check the calendar on our website, follow us on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook for notifications.

Earth Day Recycling Do’s and Don’ts

Our customers are great at recycling, but there are still people who don’t recycle or are confused about how and what can be placed in their recycling barrel. With Earth Day this weekend, we thought we’d share some tips to help you (and the planet!) out.

What is Recyclable?

You can recycle water, soda and juice bottles. Empty the containers and give them a good rinse. Milk and juice jugs, ketchup and salad dressing bottles, and even yogurt and pudding cups can all be recycled.

Most paper is recyclable, including mail, office and school papers, magazines, catalogs, newspapers, and phone books. Cardboard and paper packaging can also be recycled, just please break down boxes.

Glass bottles, jars, and metal food and beverage cans are all recyclable. You don’t have to remove labels – just remove the lids and rinse them out. Remember – don’t crush cans before recycling.

What Can’t be Recycled in Your Curbside Bin?

Some items can’t be recycled at home, but other programs accept them. Plastic bags are recyclable, but not in your home bins since they can get tangled in the machinery at recycling facilities. They can be recycled at many retail and grocery stores, usually up front near the checkouts.

The following paper items should also be kept out of your curbside bins: paper plates and cups, paper soiled with food, napkins, and gift-wrap.

Glass items, like drinking glasses, ceramic dishes, vases, windows, and mirrors can’t be recycled. Try to reuse or donate these things to keep them out of the waste stream.

Alternatives for Hazardous Waste

Many items in your home are considered household hazardous waste. They can’t be placed in your home recycling or garbage bin and should be disposed of at other locations.

Some examples are paint and electronics. You may place dried out paint (lid off, completely dry) in your trash, but wet paint cannot be put in your trash.

Electronics cannot be disposed of in your curbside bins, but many retailers (like Best Buy or Staples) will take your electronics for recycling.

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Your recyclables should not put out in a tied plastic bag.  Leaving our recyclables loose is the best method but, if they must be in a bag, please leave the bag open so recyclables will easily fall out at the recycling facility.

Have other items you need to dispose of but can’t put them out for Mr. Trashman? Check your town’s website to see if/when they will be holding a Household Hazard Waste Collection Day in your area

Trash/Recycling Collections Delayed 1 Day This Week (March 14-18)

Due to the storm on Tuesday, March 14th and the safety risk to our drivers and community, service was canceled on Tuesday.

This closure will affect customers on our Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday routes.  To make up for our closure on Tuesday, all routes for the remainder of the week will be adjusted by 1 day.  Please see the list below to clarify your pickup date:

  • Normal Tuesday customers will be serviced on Wednesday, March 15th.
  • Normal Wednesday customers will be serviced on Thursday, March 16th.
  • Normal Thursday customers will be serviced on Friday, March 17th.
  • Normal Friday customers will be serviced on Saturday, March 18th.

Customers with a Monday collection will not be affected by our closure.

We appreciate all of your patience and understanding as we deal with the unpredictability of Mother Nature.

An email alert with this information was also sent to customers to notify them on Monday night. Not receiving our emails? Click here to sign up.

Tips for Winter Trash & Recycling

Trash and recycling collection is a reality even through the cold winter months. Here are some tips for making the process as painless as possible and minimizing your time out in the cold:

  • Keep Water & Ice Out: Water can pool in tiny crevices within your barrels, and then expand upon freezing, causing cracks and ruptures in the plastic. Water can also attract animals, promoting widespread rotting that makes for a more frustrating (and smelly) trash pickup when the time comes.
  • Secure Against Animals: As the temperatures drop and wild food sources become scarce, hungry animals will often take to scavenging at trash collection spots. It’s not only a mess; it’s a potential safety hazard. Make sure the lids are firmly closed on all barrels to keep wildlife out.
  • Get our Premium, Hands-Off Garage Collection: While we can’t make the need go away, we can make your life a little easier by offering our premium, hands-off service where we pick up your barrels from your garage so you don’t have to drag them to the curb in the cold and snow! Click here to learn more.