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Posted on: April 21, 2022

Recycling Contamination Audit Information

Biddeford’s recycling contamination rate is 19.4%, an audit by Casella Waste Management earlier this month revealed.

In early April, Casella, the City of Biddeford’s Curbside Recycling provider, audited Biddeford’s curbside recycling loads to calculate the City’s recycling contamination level. During the audit week, Casella and Public Works staff members sorted through curbside recycling collected from select streets representing a mix of single-family homes and multi-unit buildings from each day’s recycling pickup route. Trash items that were found in the bins were separated from the recyclables, then weighed to determine the percentage of contamination. 

“Some of the items we see frequently that are contamination are electronic items, larger plastic bags that get caught up in the containers, and sometimes bags of trash due to people not having enough room in their trash can and putting the bag in their recycling bin instead,” said Matthew Ayers, Operations Manager at Casella Waste Systems. “A lot of this comes back to the City in terms of a fee for contamination services and can actually void out a lot of the good recycling that you and your family are putting in your recycling bin.”

With a 19.4% contamination rate, the City of Biddeford pays a fee of $31.90 per ton of contaminated recycling. In March, 137 tons of recycling was deemed to be contaminated, generating $4,370 in fees for the month.

Casella’s audit revealed some heavy items that did not belong in recycling bins, such as holiday lights, a knife block, a lamppost, and a shoe, which are especially damaging to a contamination rate that is calculated by weight. Other contaminants, such as foods and liquids that are placed in the recycling bin, can also damage other good, clean recyclables, creating even more contamination.

Residents can help reduce the contamination rate by only placing clean, dry recyclables in their blue bins. Accepted items include plastic bottles, jugs, tubs and lids; cardboard; aluminum and steel cans; glass bottles and jars; and paper items such as paper bags, office paper, envelopes and catalogs.

“Remember: when you’re deciding whether to recycle something, when in doubt, throw it out to help us reduce fees and recycle better,” said Dylan Jewett, Assistant Public Works Director. “You can also give us a call at Public Works at 207-282-1579 and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about whether or not a certain item is recyclable.”

Visit https://biddefordmaine.org/recycling for more information about items that are accepted in the single-sort curbside recycling program.

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