The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 3, 2006


Decisions, decisions, for John Golden. Note the clear glass bottle in the green glass bin.

Mixed plastic or clear plastic? A guide to the Transfer Station

The Transfer Station on Lowell Street is one of Carlisle's favorite destinations. Not only can you get rid of your trash and start collecting all over again for the next week, but you can order citrus from Carlisle School band and chorus students, cookies from the Girl Scouts, bird food from the Boy Scouts, and sign petitions of all sorts. You can meet your friends and neighbors there, inspect the latest treasures in the Swap Shed, and know that you are helping the environment by separating your recyclables.

A Mosquito reader wrote to us with his concern that Carlisleans had become careless about properly separating their trash and were flinging items into the wrong bins. "Each week when I go to the Transfer Station, I am appalled at what I see," he wrote. "People throwing fluorescent lamps (some of which contain mercury) into the trash, which will later be incinerated . . . people putting plastics in the wrong bins, etc."

George Middleton places fluorescent tubes on the platform for pick-up.
The Household Recycling Committee is a volunteer organization that encourages recycling at the Transfer Station. Together with the Department of Public Works (DPW), they are responsible for the new magnetic signs for the various containers at the Transfer Station. The signs enhance the overall look of the site and make it easier for people to locate the proper bins.

Members of the committee are Lois d'Annunzio, Robert Peary (chair), Dan Scholten, Robert Wallhagen, Jane Anderson and Gary Davis (DPW). We asked Dan Scholten, who writes the Mosquito's Green Corner, to answer some questions.

Where do Carlisle's recyclables go after they leave the Transfer Station?

The DPW trucks our plastics, glass, cardboard and mixed paper to E.L. Harvey & Co., Westborough, Mass. who recycles them. Plastic is made into fleece, lumber, furniture, containers. Paper is made into recycled-content paper.

Trash removal cost

What is the cost of trash removal and recycling per household in Carlisle?

Last year we paid NESWC (New England Solid Waste Committee) about $120/ton for trash incineration. Last year Carlisle had 2,035 tons of trash, for a total cost of $244,200. This amounts to $122 for each of our about 2,000 households.

We recycled 1,215 tons at a total cost of only $9,945, saving incineration costs of $145,000, about $70 per household. NESWC is disbanding this year, but Carlisle will continue to haul solid waste to the incinerator operated by Wheelabrator North Andover, Inc. Rates will be significantly lower, $64/ton, this year, gradually increasing to $73/ton over the next five years.

Michael Tattersall deposits a week's worth of mixed plastics.
What are the most common mistakes townspeople make in recycling their household waste?

Careful recycling is critical to the success of the program. Using the wrong bins is a common mistake, for example, not separating aluminum cans from steel ("tin") cans. You can test by using a magnet; steel cans attract a magnet. Also, putting colored glass in the clear-glass container creates a problem. Colored glass bottles, window glass, or crockery dropped in the clear glass container causes problems at the glass processing facility.

Defining "Mixed Paper"

Does "Mixed Paper" mean newspapers as well?

Newspaper goes into the separate newspaper bin. It is also okay to put some of it with mixed paper.

What are clear milk jugs? Can clear cider jugs be placed in that bin? If we have Mixed Plastics, why separate the clear milk jugs?

Clear milk jugs are translucent and are labeled HDPE #2 plastic. Cider jugs count if they are translucent and labeled. This type of plastic has a separate bin because we get money for them ($40/ton). We just break even with mixed and mixed paper. It is used to make recycled-content paper, now common at Staples and other stores.

Overflowing bins

Marlene Fine drops cardboard boxes into the cardboard compactor.
Are full and overflowing bins collected on a regular schedule?

The DPW takes them away to be emptied when they're full.

What is the most important advice you can give to homeowners on recycling their throwaways?

Pay attention to recycling heavy items, because they have the most environmental impact. Large metal items can be dropped off to the left of the Swap Shed.

How can we reduce the amount of trash we take to the Transfer Station?

Composting of garden and yard waste (leaves, grass, etc.), and also kitchen waste (all food items except meat, fat, and dairy products) is important. Peanuts for packaging can be composted if they dissolve in water. Large plastic composting bins can be bought at a discount at the Concord DPW on Keyes Road.

Plan your route! This map makes it easier to navigate around the recycling and trash bins. The arrows indicate the flow of traffic.

Recyclable Material


These charts were compiled by the Carlisle Household Recycling Committee. The numbers listed in the "Location" column refer to the map of the Transfer Station (located just above these charts).

All photos by Lois d'Annunzio

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito