Single-stream recycling comes to more of JP

May 15, 2009
By

JOHN RUCH

STONYBROOK—The city’s new “single-stream” recycling program that saves residents the trouble of sorting paper and jars has expanded to cover more of Jamaica Plain, and will go citywide starting in July.

In single-stream recycling, residents can mix all types of recyclable materials together. Each household gets a giant, 64-gallon wheeled cart to hold all recyclables. The recyclables are sorted at the recycling plant.

That takes the place of the current system using smaller bins for containers and paper bags for paper products. A walk down any neighborhood street on trash day shows that the current system confuses many resi-dents, and that there is a natural urge for single-stream recycling: Many people put paper recyclables into the bins along with everything else.

Single-stream began two years ago as a pilot program in JP’s Woodbourne area and part of Roslindale. The program has slowly expanded to other sections of the city. Late last month, it came to parts of JP that have Wednesday trash/recycling pick-up, including the Stonybrook neighborhood off Washington Street.

Stonybrook got a head start on the July single-stream expansion because the city had 3,000 carts in stor-age and decided to put them to use, said Susan Cascino, the recycling director for the City of Boston. The sudden switch left some residents with questions—especially whether they are required to use the giant blue carts that were dropped off by the city at their homes.

The answer is no, you aren’t forced to keep the big blue carts if you don’t want them or don’t have room for them.

“[Residents] can return them. We’ll come get them,” said Cascino, adding that the city would love to have any spare carts because the demand is high. Just call the Mayor’s Hotline at 635-4500 and the city will come pick up the cart.

But if you don’t use the city-provided cart, you have to put the recycling in a similar container: anything 32 gallons or smaller, and it must have a lid. A normal trash can fits the bill. Just remember to call the Mayor’s Hotline and request a free recycling symbol sticker to put on the container.

Residents who have single-stream recycling can no longer use the previous box-like blue bins that have no lids. Those bins let recyclables spill out, creating litter—a problem the city is trying to solve as it introduces single-stream.

The 64-gallon carts provided by the city are relatively expensive, Cascino said. But when they are com-bined with the single-stream program, they save the city money by greatly increasing the amount people recy-cle, cutting landfill and incinerator expenses, she said. About 17,000 of the carts have been distributed, with a return rate of about 2-3 percent, she said.

The 2007 single-stream pilot program resulted in a 50 percent increase in recycling (by weight) after six months over the same period in the previous year, Cascino said.

Single-stream also allows the city to accept two new types of materials for recycling. Residents with single-stream can now recycle “rigid plastics” such as toys and laundry baskets, and “spiral cans”—cardboard cans with metal tops or bottoms, such as those used by Pringles potato chips.

Residents still cannot recycle plastic bags, no matter what form of recycling they have. Food-soiled pa-per products, such as pizza boxes, also are still not acceptable.

For full information on the city’s recycling program, see www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/recycling.