Recycling Contamination Rates Continue to Decrease

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Cambridge residents are Recycling Right! For the third straight quarter, the City saw a reduction in the recycling contamination rate. Contamination exists when residents put items in the curbside recycling bin that do not belong there. Things like textiles, electronics and wire hangers all count as contamination during regular recycling audits from the City's recycling contractor, Casella. Higher contamination rates mean higher costs for the City.

In June 2018, when the average contamination rate was 11%, the City launched the Recycle Right campaign. Since then, we’ve tagged thousands of curbside recycling carts with “Oops” tags to educate residents about what should and should not go into the single-stream recycling. We’ve mailed thousands of postcards and advertised on bus shelters and Blue Bikes stations. We’ve also talked to thousands of neighbors door-to-door and at community events across the City. We’re thrilled to announce the average contamination rate for the first three quarters of 2019 is 5.9%! The Thursday route has shown the biggest improvement in the City, reducing its average contamination rate from 12% to 6%- way to go East Cambridge!

Thanks to the diligence of Cambridge residents, our recycling program is becoming more resilient to the global market changes cities around the country are facing, ensuring that the City can continue to develop programs that divert waste from landfills.

Chart showing a decrease in contamination rates from 2018 to 2019

Page was posted on 10/4/2019 8:59 AM
Page was last modified on 2/7/2020 1:53 PM
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