A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Happy February, Smart Recyclers!

This month, we would like to draw your attention to our humble, yet informative, Smart Recycling Guide.

If you haven’t seen it before, the Smart Recycling Guide (SRG for short) is our go-to guide to what can and cannot be put in your home recycling. The top row pictures the types of things that are recyclable in MA, and the bottom row pictures the materials that cause the biggest problems at materials recovery facilities (MRFs).

The SRG is one of our favorite resources because it’s comprehensive without being overwhelming. It was designed to be an at-a-glance reference that can be printed out and put somewhere convenient for those times you find yourself wondering: can I recycle this?

We often get asked why we don’t provide a list of the dos and don’ts – surely the SRG doesn’t show everything that is recyclable. Here’s the answer: while it’s true that the SRG doesn’t picture everything that can be recycled, it really does show most things. 

There are millions of things that can’t be recycled, and only a few categories of things that CAN go in your home recycling. The SRG is designed to show those categories with picture examples so you know quickly if something is in or out, because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

There are some recyclable things that aren’t pictured in the SRG. For new additions or changes to rules, we use the Recyclopedia! This tool allows us to quickly edit our message and include things on the YES list that were previously prohibited (AKA Recycling Miracles 😊). For information about something not pictured in the SRG, check the Recyclopedia. Be sure to use broad terms for the best search results (for example: “box,” “athletic equipment,” and “plastic yogurt container” will provide better results than a search using brand names).

Recent Changes

To be as consistent as possible, we rarely make changes to the SRG, but we recently did just that by adding  “no hazardous items.” To be fair, these items have never been allowed, but the MRFs have seen an increased number of dangerous materials over the past couple of years and we agreed it was time to add this reminder.

Hazardous materials are things that can catch fire (batteries), explode (propane tanks and aerosol cans), corrode (hazardous chemicals), or otherwise harm the workers and/or equipment at MRFs. These items are seriously dangerous, so please remember to leave them OUT of the recycling!

Fun Fact

The Smart Recycling Guide is now available in twelve languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Russian, Hindi, and Khmer! We’d love to know how you feel about these translations – if you’ve got suggestions on how to make them better/easier to understand, please be in touch.

📚 What We're Reading

See you in the spring! 🌱

The Recycle Smart Team at MassDEP