Recycling

Overview of Recycling and Its Importance

Recycling is a great way to keep items out of incinerators and landfills. However, recycling should be the last resort. Recyclables add to our carbon footprint. Energy is required to haul collected recyclables to other areas, often on multiple trips, and energy is expended to convert them into raw material.

Recyclable material often does not find a buyer in the marketplace. When that happens, the material is sent to an incinerator or landfill, defeating the goal of reusing the original material. The market for different recyclable materials fluctuates with demand.

Our Priorities

We should strive to REDUCE, Reuse, recycle. REDUCE is always the best way to cut down on waste. It is pretty simple. If we reduce, we have fewer items that need to be hauled away. When we reuse, we, by definition, cut down on new purchases and the eventual waste.

New Canaan Transfer Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Stream Recycling

New Canaan introduced single-stream recycling in 2015. The system is designed to make it easier for residents to recycle with the goal of broadening participation.

Residents no longer need to sort their recyclables. Recyclable paper, cans, plastic containers can be mixed together in a container for drop off at the Transfer Station or for pick up by a private trash hauler. The fully commingled mixture of recyclables materials are separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility by machines and workers.

Care must be taken to make sure items can be recycled as the “recycling number” on many items does not necessarily mean it can be recycled in our Single Stream. Size and shape of an item is a factor as well as color. Please refer to the detailed information on our Recycling page.

 

Textile Recycling

Did you know that 95% of unwanted textiles can be reused or recycled? An estimated 26 billion pounds of textiles end up in landfills, but could have been diverted. Think of old t-shirts, linens, shoes, stuffed animals, accessories and more.

You can help abate this problem. Deliver your unwanted textiles to the Textile Recycling bin. The textiles should clean, dry, and in a bag. Here how the textiles are put to good use:

  • More than 45% of the clothing is exported to developing countries.
  • 20% is broken down into fibers and used for household insulation.
  • 30% are used for recycled wiping rags.

That’s a good story! But, we remind you to buy quality clothes, and avoid fast fashion. Better to cut down on textile waste.

Find out what’s accepted – and not. Click on the button below.

Scrap Metal

Recycling scrap metal is a big help to the environment. Unlike paper and plastic, metal — including aluminum, cooper, steel and iron — can be continuously recycled without losing quality. This means metal products, made from recycled material, are just as good as products made from virgin metal.
 
Recycling metal helps to save natural resources, such as iron and coal, and uses less energy than by creating virgin metal. Therefore, it is important to recycle your scrap metal.  
 
Not sure if your item can go into the scrap metal bin? Just ask one of the attendants at the Transfer Station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Stream Recycling

New Canaan introduced single-stream recycling in 2015. The system is designed to make it easier for residents to recycle with the goal of broadening participation.

Residents no longer need to sort their recyclables. Recyclable paper, cans, plastic containers can be mixed together in a container for drop off at the Transfer Station or for pick up by a private trash hauler. The fully commingled mixture of recyclables materials are separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility by machines and workers.

Care must be taken to make sure items can be recycled as the “recycling number” on many items does not necessarily mean it can be recycled in our Single Stream. Size and shape of an item is a factor as well as color. Please refer to the detailed information on our Recycling page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Textile Recycling

Did you know that 95% of unwanted textiles can be reused or recycled? An estimated 26 billion pounds of textiles end up in landfills, but could have been diverted. Think of old t-shirts, linens, shoes, stuffed animals, accessories and more.

You can help abate this problem. Deliver your unwanted textiles to the Textile Recycling bin. The textiles should clean, dry, and in a bag. Here how the textiles are put to good use:

  • More than 45% of the clothing is exported to developing countries.
  • 20% is broken down into fibers and used for household insulation.
  • 30% are used for recycled wiping rags.

That’s a good story! But, we remind you to buy quality clothes, and avoid fast fashion. Better to cut down on textile waste.

Find out what’s accepted – and not. Click on the button below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarp Metal

Recycling scrap metal is a big help to the environment. Unlike paper and plastic, metal — including aluminum, cooper, steel and iron — can easily be continuously recycled without losing quality. This means metal products, made from recycled material, are just as good as products made from virgin metal.
 
Recycling metal helps to save natural resources, such as iron and coal, and uses less energy than by creating virgin metal. Therefore, it is important to recycle your scrap metal.  
 
Not sure if your item can go into the scrap metal bin?  Just ask one of the attendants at the Transfer Station and they will be able to let you know. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Bag Collection

The Town partnered with Acme to take plastic bags to a facility where they were recycled into other material, such as plastic lumber. At this time, however plastic bags are not being recycled through Acme due to high levels of contamination.

Most important is to keep plastics out of recycling. Don’t be fooled by recycling symbol on them: plastic bags are not accepted in our single stream recycling. In fact, plastic bags in our single stream recycling cause a huge problem for Material Recovery Facilities. That is because plastic bags jam up the equipment, causing delays and requiring manual intervention. You can place your plastic bags in the receptacles at the Transfer Station, if needed…but unfortunately there is not a secondary market for them at the moment.

White Appliances

“White Appliances” or “White Goods” refers to refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and stoves, as they were commonly painted white. The term now also encompasses water heaters, washing machines and dryers.

Drop off these items in the “White Appliances” area. Why? Because:

  • Older appliances may contain ozone, depleting refrigerants, mercury in switches and even asbestos. If not disposed of properly, these hazardous materials can find their way into our air and waterways.
  • Newer appliances have safer material but federal law requires all refrigerants to be recovered prior to dismantling or disposal.
  • These appliances often contain steel, iron, copper and aluminum which are easily recycled —  and in are demand. Recycling these materials cuts down on landfill space and energy for virgin material.

Electronics

Connecticut State law requires that Transfer Stations accept computers, printers, monitors, televisions, tablets, phones or any device with a 4-inch or larger display screen. The New Canaan Transfer Station also accepts other entertainment devices like VCRs, DVD players, radios, amplifiers, home sound systems and game consoles. Small kitchen appliances are not accepted. Instead, if the majority of the material is metal, then put appliances into the scrap metal container. Otherwise, plastic appliances  go into the trash.  

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

It is important to recycle fluorescent light bulbs, including CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs). When fluorescent bulbs are thrown into a dumpster or trash can, they often break, allowing the mercury inside to leak. According to the EPA, mercury is a neurotoxin and recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. So please keep these bulbs out of the regular trash. At this time, all other light bulbs should go into the trash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Bag Collection

The Town partnered with Acme to take plastic bags to a facility where they were recycled into other material, such as plastic lumber. At this time, however plastic bags are not being recycled through Acme due to high levels of contamination.

Most important is to keep plastics out of recycling. Don’t be fooled by recycling symbol on them: plastic bags are not accepted in our single stream recycling. In fact, plastic bags in our single stream recycling cause a huge problem for Material Recovery Facilities. That is because plastic bags jam up the equipment, causing delays and requiring manual intervention. You can place your plastic bags in the receptacles at the Transfer Station, if needed…but unfortunately there is not a secondary market for them at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Appliances

“White Appliances” or “White Goods” refers to refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and stoves, as they were commonly painted white. The term now also encompasses water heaters, washing machines and dryers.

Drop off these items in the “White Appliances” area. Why? Because:

  • Older appliances may contain ozone, depleting refrigerants, mercury in switches and even asbestos. If not disposed of properly, these hazardous materials can find their way into our air and waterways.
  • Newer appliances have safer material but federal law requires all refrigerants to be recovered prior to dismantling or disposal.
  • These appliances often contain steel, iron, copper and aluminum which are easily recycled —  and in are demand. Recycling these materials cuts down on landfill space and energy for virgin material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electronics

Connecticut State law requires that Transfer Stations accept computers, printers, monitors, televisions, tablets, phones or any device with a 4-inch or larger display screen. The New Canaan Transfer Station also accepts other entertainment devices like VCRs, DVD players, radios, amplifiers, home sound systems and game consoles. Small kitchen appliances are not accepted. Instead, if the majority of the material is metal, then put appliances into the scrap metal container. Otherwise, plastic appliances  go into the trash.  

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

It is important to recycle fluorescent light bulbs, including CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs). When fluorescent bulbs are thrown into a dumpster or trash can, they often break, allowing the mercury inside to leak. According to the EPA, mercury is a neurotoxin and recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. So please keep these bulbs out of the regular trash. At this time, all other light bulbs should go into the trash.

New Canaan Recycling Guide

What’s Single Stream Recycling?

Let’s be honest, recycling isn’t all that easy. In New Canaan, like most towns, we use the single stream recycling system. This means that all recyclable items can be put in one bin, making the process easier for residents. No more sorting into separate bins.

The problem, however, is what is recyclable? Paper, glass and plastics with numbers 1-7 as a general rule…but the exceptions can be confounding. Even though an item may be a paper product or plastic with a number of 1-7 inside the chasing arrows symbol, it still may not be accepted in our single stream recycling. Size and shape of an item also play a role in what can be recycled.

How to Recycle Properly

Is the answer to give up because recycling is too difficult? No! It is still extremely important to recycle and recycle properly — so that more actually gets recycled. So where does one start to learn how to recycle properly?

Follow Our Recycling Guide

Keep our Recycling Guide handy for reference. See below and feel free to download it, print it and post it somewhere convenient at your house.

Remember the Exceptions

  • Remember that not all paper products go in Single Stream Recycling. Paper cups and take-out food containers are lined with plastic and therefore can’t be recycled. Shredded paper can’t be put in your recycling bin as the Material Recovery Facilities can’t sort shredded paper on their machine belts. Think confetti explosion. Wrapping paper typically has pieces of metal in it and tissue paper fibers are too thin to be recycled.
  • Plastic can be recycled in our single stream…Except for straws, styrofoam (even if it has a number on it), deodorant packaging, straws and cup lids, plastic plates, bowls, utensils and any item under 2” x 2”.
  • Glass can be recycled…Except for window glass, drinking glasses, vases, Pyrex dishes and glass plates go in the trash.
  • Most metal cans and bottles can be recycled…Except for most aerosol cans. Food grade aerosol cans can be recycled. Toss the hair spray bottles. Metal hangers, pots, pans, and small pieces of scrap metal — but they do go into the scrap metal bin at the Transfer Station.
  • Hoses, ropes, cords, plastic bags and string lights are a Material Recovery Facilities’ worst nightmare. Not only are these items not allowed in the single stream recycling bin, they get tangled up in the equipment and shut down the sorting process. This wastes time and is a danger to workers who have to cut out the items.

Our Cardinal Rule

  • When in doubt…throw it out! We know it feels so much better to put something in the recycling bin than the garbage but if that item can’t be recycled, you may be doing more harm than good. Rather than become a wishful recycler, check to see if the item can be recycled in our single stream. If not sure, put it in the trash.
  • Ask the Recycling Wizard! See below for the link. It’s easy and fun.

Recycling FAQs

Why can’t I recycle my paper coffee cup?

Paper cups are not permitted in our single stream recycling. The reason for this is that most paper cups, including paper coffee cups, have a plastic (polyethylene) lining. The polyethlene lining retains heat, is a barrier to liquids and helps maintain the cup’s structural integrity.

Can wrapping paper be recycled?

No.  All wrapping paper should go into the trash.  Most wrapping paper has additives such as plastic, metal and glitter that makes the paper unrecyclable. As most wrapping paper has these attributes, Material Recovery Facilities will throw out all wrapping paper to avoid contamination.

Aren’t all items with the three-arrow recycling symbol and number recyclable?

No, the symbol just means it could, in theory, be recycled. When a number is inside the “chasing arrows,” it identifies the type of plastic or resin used to make the item. What can be recycled will depend on your area and your local Material Recovery Facility. CT residents can use Recyclect.com and ask the Recycling Wizard if items can be recycled.

Does size matter?

Yes. Any item that is smaller than 2 inches x 2 inches will not be recycled. These items are too small for the Material Recovery Facility machinery to sort. It’s a good idea to reattach a screw top to a bottle, before recycling; that way, the top will be recycled. Think small travel size shampoo bottles and condiment cups.

Why can’t I put my plastic bag in the recycling bin?

Plastic bags are not accepted in Single Stream Recycling as the bags cause problems as they jam up the machines at Material Recovery Facilities (where your recycling goes to be sorted).  Plastic bags wrap around gears and the machines have to be turned off to cut out the plastic stranglehold. Plastic bags also have little resale value as a raw material. 

Can shredded paper go into the recycling bin?

No. Shredded paper cannot go through the sorting process and ends up gumming up the machinery. Shredded paper should go into the garbage. However, shredded paper can be recycled if done through a professional service or on New Canaan’s annual shredding day. Shredded paper that’s not mixed with single stream recycling can be taken directly to a specialized recycling facility to be turned into pulp.

Spray bottles go into recycling?

Yes and No. The bottle can go into recycling but spray top cannot be recycled. Separate the spray top and put it into the trash.

Can I put compostable cups into my recycling bin?

No.  Some compostable cups look like #1 or #2 plastic, but they are not and cannot be recycled.  Put compostable cups into the garbage or bring to a facility that has industrial composting. Do not put compostable cups in your home compost unless specified that they are accepted. Our Food Scraps Recycling program does not accept compostable cups (or plates, utensils, etc.)

Are receipts accepted in Single Stream recycling?

No. Receipts are printed on thermal paper which contains bisphenol-A and cannot be easily removed for the paper for recycling.

Styrofoam has a #6 on it, so it can go into recycling?

No. The number in the chasing arrows symbol indicates the type of resin, and a #6 corresponds to polystyrene — what most people know as Styrofoam.  Though there are a few places in the country where polystyrene can be recycled, there are no recycling options in Connecticut. Put it in the trash.

If I put it in my recycling bin, won’t they just recycle it?

No. We called that “wishful recycling” and it does more harm than good.  Items not approved for recycling either contaminate other material or end up slowing down the sorting process at the Material Recovery Facility, requiring unrecyclable items to be removed.

Is it okay to tie up my newspapers or put them into paper bags?

No and in fact, all recyclables should be put into the recycling bin loose.  When the material is being sorted, the belts are moving too fast to cut off the string. Items in bags are often just picked up and thrown out as the sorters cannot see what is inside and will assume it may just be garbage.  Paper bags must not contain any items. Plastic bags should never be put into single stream recycling.

Can I put prescription bottles in my recycling bin?

No, these items go right into the trash. Prescription bottles are too small for the sorting equipment and may have too much residue.  Any leftover medication can be dropped in the lobby of the New Canaan Police Department.

Why can’t paper towels, napkins and tissue paper be recycled?

These soft paper products don’t meet the quality standards needed to be turned into new products.  Often these products are made from recycled paper and paper can only be recycled between 5 to 7 times. Each recycling process shortens the paper fiber. At some point, the paper fibers are just too short to be recycled again.

Can broken glass or tempered glass go into recycling?

No, place it right into the trash.

Do I keep the cap on bottles or remove them before putting them in my recycling bin?

In Connecticut, keep the cap on the bottle and it will be recycled. However, loose caps should go into the trash, as they are too small for the sorting process.

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