Out and about

Recycling Coordinator Tom Segear and volunteers from the Solid Waste Advisory Committee were out and about in the early morning for a couple of weeks. They were conducting a survey of how much contamination is in Brookline’s blue carts. Perhaps you saw them on your street. Perhaps you got a friendly reminder ­— “OOPS! There’s a problem with your recycling.”

Five neighborhoods in five days

They concentrated on five different areas — one for each of the collection days. Monday was the Coolidge Playground neighborhood. Tuesday was the Linden Park neighborhood. Wednesday was the Lawrence Playground neighborhood. Thursday was the Waldstein Playground neighborhood. Friday was the Russett and Bonad Road neighborhood.

What was the process?

The teams of two walked down the streets and opened the lids of blue carts. If they saw contamination they recorded what it was and what address the cart was assigned to. They would then leave an “OOPS!” tag at the residence or on the cart. The idea was 1) to gauge the percentage of carts that contained contaminants and 2) to educate people about what does not belong in a blue cart. They returned in week No. 2 to see if the problem had been corrected. In most cases it was.

What did they find?

For the most part, Brookline residents recycle right. Unfortunately, there are a few households in every area that still have trouble with recycling. For example, of the 179 carts tagged in the first week, 141 had plastic bag violations. Most of those were situations where somebody in the household was collecting recyclables in a plastic bag and then placing the bag and all in the blue cart. They also found Styrofoam (19 carts) and plastic wrap/bubble wrap/sealed air packing (26 carts). Twelve carts actually had what we would have to call “trash” in them — things like electronics, food, clothes, wood and random metal.

How can you avoid getting an “OOPS!” tag?

It’s easy. Don’t live within three blocks of a park or playground. Hide violation materials such as plastic bags, filmy plastic, packing plastic, and foam at the very bottom of your blue cart and cover them with clean and empty plastic, metal, and glass containers and paper and cardboard. Peak out the window and wait until after the clipboard and safety vest-equipped volunteers pass your residence and then put your cart out for collection.


You can just recycle right.

The Recycling Corner is prepared and submitted by a member of the Brookline Solid Waste Advisory Committee, in partnership with the Department of Public Works Sanitation Division. The selection of material for publication in the Recycling Corner does not necessarily imply endorsement by the town, nor do the views expressed herein necessarily reflect official positions of the town unless so stated.

For more information on sanitation, recycling and hazardous waste, visit brooklinema.gov/recycle.