attleboro recycling bins

Recycling bins line a street in Attleboro.

ATTLEBORO — The amount of trash in city recycling barrels has gone way down, but not enough to avoid a fine, Mayor Paul Heroux said Tuesday.

That news comes with the results of a the latest recycling audit performed in February by the city’s trash hauler, Waste Management.

The contamination rate, or the amount of trash among recycling materials, fell by 21 points, but it was two points shy of what’s considered an acceptable level.

“I have good news and bad news,” the mayor said in a press release. “The good news is that Attleboro’s recycling contamination rate decreased down to 12 percent.”

He said the rate was at 33 percent when he first took office in 2018.

“The bad news is that Attleboro gets a fine for being above 10 percent,” he said.

Heroux did not have the amount of the fine immediately available.

The 10 percent maximum is part of Waste Management’s contract with the city and is a number set by the state, the mayor said.

Any contamination of recyclables must be removed before they can be sold. That costs Waste Management money and now it will cost the city money as well.

The audit took place over10 days in February.

During that period, 2,163 pounds of recyclable material was checked and was found to contain 260 pounds of trash, which is a little more than 12 percent of the total.

Heroux said the most common contaminants were egg cartons, plastic bags, K-cups, Styrofoam, food waste, napkins, bags with contents and bottles with liquids still in them.

There were less common items as well.

Some were strange and some were disgusting.

“I think the oddest thing that was found was a bra and the grossest thing was diapers,” the mayor said.

Heroux said concerns that the new and oddly shaped trash barrels would prompt people to throw more contaminants into recycling bins have not been borne out.

“That does not appear to be the case with the contamination rate going down,” he said. “It seems that people do care about being compliant with the rules of the program and they make an effort to do the right thing.”

Heroux reminded residents what they need to do to keep improving the city’s recycling effort.

“It is important that people dispose of the five clean items: clean glass, clean plastic, clean, paper, clean cardboard, and clean metal cans,” he said. “When in doubt, throw it out.”

  • He said if there are questions about disposing anything including TVs, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, or anything else, people should call the Health Department at 508-223-2222 3242.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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