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The Recycling Loop

The three recycling arrows logo is the universal symbol of recycling and printed on millions of products that can be recycled, or have been made from recycled content.  Each arrow in the recycling logo represents one step in the three step process that completes the recycling loop.

The first step is collection.  This is when you put your recyclable materials into your curbside recycling bin.  The collected materials are then processed and sold to manufacturing facilities, such as steel, paper and glass mills

The manufacturing process is represented in the second arrow.  The recyclable materials are converted into new products and shipped to stores across the country to be placed on shelves as new consumer goods, for example:

  • Paper and cardboard are turned into cereal and cracker boxes, book covers, and game boards at a recycling paper mill in Fitchburg.
  • Glass bottles and jars are melted and used to make new containers in facilities such as St. Gobain Containers in Milford.
  • Milk jugs, detergent bottles, and other #2 plastics become landscaping timbers and whiskey barrel planters made by Smartware Products in Leominster.


Be careful!  The symbol can be misleading.  It's not a recycling stamp, even though the graphic is clearly slated towards recycling.  It's a "resin recycling code", which tells you what kind of plastic you've got.   The recycling symbol does not necessarily mean that a product is made with recycled content or that it can be recycled in the city’s curbside collection program.  Many plastic products are coded with a recycling symbol, indicating that somewhere they may be recyclable, but not necessarily accepted in our curbside program, for example:

Codes 1 and 2 (milk bottles and soda bottles) are easily recycled.  The other codes usually aren't.  Styrofoam (technically, "expanded polystyrene foam"); is code 6.  You can't recycle it in the sense of reducing it to constituent parts and making something new out of it, the way you can with codes 1 and 2, therefore even though it is stamped #6 it is not accepted in the curbside program . 

The third stop is where you, the consumer, purchase products made with recycled content. 

  “Buy Recycled” Myths:  Here are four common myths and misconceptions about recycled products”

  • Recycled products are hard to find.  This used to be true, but no longer.  From the neighborhood grocery store to national retailers, stores sell thousands of products made from or packaged in recycled content material.
  • Recycled paper isn’t as good as non-recycled paper.  Recycled content papers now share the same printing and performance characteristics as their “virgin” equivalent.  Recycled paper no longer looks different.  You can now find recycled content paper with the same whiteness and brightness as virgin papers.  They also offer the same level of performance on copiers, and laser and ink jet printers.
  • Recycled products cost more.  This used to be the case for some materials, but times have changed.  Many recycled products are priced competitively with their non-recycled counterparts.  In fact, some may be less expensive.
  • Recycled products are inferior in quality.  This is simply not true.  Recycled products have the same quality, reliability, and dependability.  A 1996 survey by the Buy Recycled Business Alliance asked hundreds of corporate purchasing agents about their satisfaction with recycled content products.  The survey results showed that 97% of respondents were pleased with the performance of recycled content products.

 When you “Buy Recycled” you complete the recycling loop!

The New Method of Recylcing: Single-Stream Recycling
Recycling your trash is an important way you can help preserve our environment, reduce our consumption of precious natural resources, and save yourself and our City money.  The more items you put out for recycling, the less you have to spend on bags.  Only with your help can we reach our recycling goals.  Each item that is removed from the waste stream reduces our trash disposal costs, enabling us to use that money for other important City services - all while helping to preserve our environment!

Before you throw something into your trash container, please ask yourself, "Can this be recycled?"

Even a small change can make a difference.

Curbside Recycling Has Gotten Easier!
No more putting recyclable paper and cardboard in a separate bin!

No more putting recyclable cans, bottles, and plastics in a separate bin!

No need to put out two recycling containers if all your paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and plastics will fit in one!

Thanks to new technology and new trucks, everything that your household recycles can now go in the same container; in the recycling world, the term is “single stream”. The sorting technology and workers in the sorting plants do the separation, with conveyor belts carrying each type of recyclable to a different place.

The main reason heard from residents who don’t recycle is that it is too much trouble for them to sort their recyclables and that the bins take up too much room with paper and junk mail in one bin and everything else in another. You can use an old trash barrel with a "Recycle" bumper sticker on it (stickers are available at the DPW at no cost).  Now there is absolutely no excuse not to take part. And recycling is mandatory!

Mandatory recycling ensures that we get recyclables out of the trash and therefore out of the incinerator in Saugus where the City pays an additional fee for every ton of trash taken there.  This graphic shows how!

This link shows how the material is sorted once it gets to the facility.

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