Health officials ask for proper disposal of plastic trash bags


SHIRLEY — Styrofoam, bubble wrap, store-bought trash bags and those ubiquitous plastic bags rolled out at department and grocery store checkout lines that may end up blowing in the breeze as roadside litter should be properly disposed of, but not in local recycle bins, according to the Board of Health.

Health board member Donald Farrar told the Communication Committee at its recent meeting that although some of those items — such as styrofoam — may be on some “single stream” recycling lists, they are not recyclable materials for the town’s contracted trash hauler.

Farrar said trash collectors have had unfortunate run-ins with residents who insisted that they take styrofoam left out for pickup, when, in fact, it is not a recyclable item and they’ve been told not to.

As for plastic bags, they get mixed in with other materials and clog up the company’s recycling machinery during the sorting process, he said, causing costly shutdowns.

Curbside trash pickup is the purview of the Board of Health, which administers the town’s Pay per Bag program, with recycling as a no-charge perk. Bags, sold at designated locations in town cover some of the cost and taxpayers pay the rest of the bill, which went up substantially with the last contract.

At a Town Meeting last year, then-chairman Joseph Howlett explained why. In a word: recycling.

At issue now, though, is not whether to recycle but how. Most folks might think they have the routine down pat: what can be recycled, and what can’t. But they might not have current, accurate information.

The health board and the Recycling Committee plan to take their message to the public in a big way, Farrar said, this spring.

In the meantime, keep an eye on what goes into the recycling bin.