Major Change Comes in Twos for Belmont Residents who Recycle

Photo: The town’s recycling policy is changing in a major way next week.

The days of throwing everything – empty cans of tuna, the Sunday New York Times newspaper, the plastic container your earphones came in, and empty craft beer bottles – into the blue or green recycling containers and having it taken away every two weeks are over.

Starting next week, there will be a right way and a wrong way to recycle in Belmont as F W Russell Sons Disposal – the town’s trash contractor – will only collect curbside recycling if it’s correctly sorted into a “dual stream.”

A dual-stream system requires paper and cardboard separated from containers such as plastic bottles and containers, glass and metal cans. Paper, cardboard and containers are banned from landfills and waste-to-facilities in Massachusetts and need to be recycled.

If not separated, the recycling will not be picked up, and scofflaws will need to drag the boxes back to the house.

(Information on how to successfully negotiate the new policy can be found on the Town’s website under the Department of Public Works Highway Division.)

So why the big change from those who already recycle?

According to Belmont’s Recycling Coordinator, Mary Beth Calnan, Somerville-based Russell was told recently by the regional collection facility its contract calls for Belmont’s recycling to be a dual stream.

Calnan said the town’s curbside recycling program began in July 1991 as a dual stream system. For some reason, the first recycling hauler, Laidlaw, didn’t enforce the system and the tradition of throwing all recycling material into the same container became the norm.

When asked how Belmont residents will react to the new rules, Calnan said residents want to do the right thing and the office has received many calls and emails about the flyers that went out in the light bills and on the Town’s web page.

“Most residents want to purchase another bin or have recycling stickers mailed to them so they can put out their recycling correctly,” she said.

“If a resident is confused or needs guidance they should contact me and I will gladly help them,” she said. Reach Calnan at 617-993-2789 or



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  1. Paul says

    Pay as you throw? Compliance checking? Please stop your insanity.

    How about a tax on your kids? (carbon footprint increase). How about a tax on anything I decide to tax you on? (I know what’s best for you).

  2. Robin says

    As someone who spent the last week chasing down blowing recyclables and bins on Brighton St., (mine as well as my neighbor’s), I find it amazing that the town does not have larger, covered recycling bins. Single stream recycling seems to be the norm in some cities to help with compliance. Why does it seem that Belmont is moving in the wrong direction. I am a person who recycles and has been compliant with the double stream system, even though it can be a pain. I have lots of elderly neighbors however, that just can’t be bothered. Single stream would seem like a more reasonable way to go if increased compliance is an issue. It would probably cut down on the blowing debris that inevitably happens during inclement weather. Juts my opinion…

  3. Paul H says

    ive been separating my paper and cardboard all along. It’s easier to store in paper grocery bags. Instead of taking up room in the bin. My comment is : Why not pick up every week? Other towns do it ( Arlington)

  4. Warren Croce says

    If you want people to recycle you have to make it as easy as possible. This is a move in the wrong direction

  5. kate bowen says

    It’s not hard – unless you try to squeeze two weeks’ worth into one of those little blue bins…! Gotta get a real barrel and a big ol’ sticker on there and you’re golden. Now, how about some pay-as-you-throw and some compliance checking…? It was on the revenue list of the FTF, how ’bout now?

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