MassRecycle is Excited to be a Recycle Smart Partner

In 2018, MassDEP launched a new statewide recycling education initiative – Recycle Smart. This groundbreaking effort is aimed at reducing contamination in recycling. Contamination, simply put, means putting trash and other materials that don’t belong in the recycling bin. The problem is a major issue in “single stream” recycling. These materials or “contaminants” drive up recycling costs for cities and towns, slow down the ability of Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to process recyclable materials, and increase the risk of worker injuries. The challenge of contamination is particularly serious right now as certain international markets have closed as a result of contamination.

With the tag line “Do Your Part, Recycle Smart,” this effort focuses on the importance of putting the right materials in the recycling bin and taking care to separate out the materials that don’t belong, such as plastic bags, food, liquids and “tanglers.”


What is the Recycle Smart initiative?

The cornerstone of the initiative is the new website that features the “Smart Recycling Guide.” The Guide identifies the four categories of materials that every MRF across the state accepts.

The Guide also identifies the top five contaminants that MRFs do not want in recycling loads and explains that these materials should be managed in other ways. The top five contaminants are:

  • Bagged recyclables and bagged garbage
  • Loose plastic bags/plastic wrap
  • Food and liquids
  • Clothing or linens
  • “Tanglers” – hoses, wires, chains, strings of lights, etc.

The website also includes the “Recyclopedia” search tool, where residents can search for hundreds of items (from paper bags to pizza boxes) to find out how to properly manage them. There is also a video showing the recycling sorting process inside a MRF, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about why and how to recycle smart. We encourage you to take a look at the website and the Recyclopedia.

As this initiative has launched, some of you have asked how you can help spread the word. Here’s how:

  • RecycleSmartMA social media channels — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Share this information with your family, friends, and neighbors
  • If you’re active on your town’s recycling or sustainability committee, feel free to encourage them to become a Recycle Smart Partner
    For more information about Recycle Smart, contact