Column: Recycling quiz – Ipswich Local News

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by Paula Jones

Taking out the trash is simple. Everything goes out together, because they have no further use.

Taking out the recycling isn’t as simple. Sometimes we forget that recyclables are simply industrial raw materials.

Manufacturers create specifications for those materials so that their suppliers will know what they need and what they won’t buy. 

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With so many products and materials being produced and consumed, there is increasing confusion as to what can be recycled.

When too many of the wrong items are placed in recycling bins, the entire bin or truck can be CONTAMINATED and wind up in a landfill instead of being recycled into new items.

Take this quick quiz and find out if you are an informed Ipswich recycler! 

Can the material be recycled in your curbside bin? YES or NO. 

Answers are printed at the bottom of the article. 

1. Styrofoam trays
2. Glass items (mirrors, drinking glasses, bowls)
3. Pizza boxes
4. Plastic flower pots
5. T-shirts
6. Garden hoses
7. Bubble wrap
8. Aluminum foil
9. Lids or caps
10. Tissue paper

1. No. Styrofoam cannot be recycled in your curbside bin. Because of lack of recyclers for this material, the cost to collect this has become prohibitive. The Ipswich Waste Reduction committee does NOT foresee another collection in the future for residents. It works to write companies that do use it for packing and ask them to use an alternative packing material. 

2. No. Flower vases, candle jars, mirrors, drinking glasses, and crockery do NOT belong in your recycling bin. These items cannot be recycled because of additives that cause them to melt a different temperature than beverage and food containers (like pasta jars or wine bottles). 

3. Yes … and no. YES, you can put your EMPTY cardboard pizza box in the recycling. Grease is okay, but not food. But NO to a frozen pizza box. Frozen food boxes have a thin layer of plastic sprayed onto the paper to prevent freezer burn. 

4. No. Since most flower pots are made from a variety of plastic resins and are often dark colors, put them into the trash. Even white pots go should go into the trash. Please find a way to reuse garden pots. 

5. No. Clothes and any kind of textiles do not belong in your recycling bin. Clothes do not belong in the trash, either. Across Massachusetts, residents and businesses dispose of approximately 230,000 tons of clothes and textiles annually, flooding landfills and incinerator facilities. However, effective November 1, 2022, the MassDEP is adding textiles and mattresses to the list of materials (see below) that are banned from the trash.

EcoSmith textile boxes located at Ipswich schools’ parking lots will accept clothing, footwear, linens, and accessories for donation in any condition, as long as items are clean, dry, and odorless.

This includes items with stains, rips, missing buttons, or broken zippers. Textiles can also disposed at the Red Cross box at the transfer station.

Helpsy is a company that works with Ipswich to pickup your textiles at your home. You can complete the pickup request form at or by calling the HELPSY hotline at 877 382 7417.

A Helpsy box is being planned for outside the Council on Aging at Town Hall. 

6. No. Hoses are known as “tanglers.” Other “tanglers” — such as string lights, ropes, chains, and electronic cords — jam the machinery used to sort recyclables. 

7. No. Bubble wrap should not be put in the bin. Local supermarkets and other retailers accept plastic bags and bubble wrap and other wraps for recycling at no cost. 

8. Yes. Put aluminum wrap in your recycling bin. Just rinse or wipe clean all food or other residue.

9. Yes. Lids and caps should be placed back on the bottle, jar, jug or tub before recycling. Loose lids and caps will literally fall through the cracks at the recycling sorting facility.

10. No. Tissue paper fibers are too short to be recycled again.  

How did you do on the quiz? Figuring out what can and cannot be recycled is complicated. Go to for more information on other items’ recyclability. 

Send any questions you have about reducing waste to or visit their Facebook page at Ipswich Recycles and Composts. 


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