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Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s a sample of some of the questions we get asked often. 
If you still haven’t found the information you need,
please contact one of the TRC members.

Q:  We have a couple examples of items with a plastics recycling number of 1 to 7 on them:  plastic grocery bags and Styrofoam containers for delivery/take-out from restaurants (I also have a "Cup-of-Noodles" Styrofoam cup noted as #6).  Can you comment on your handling of these items? 

A:  No Styrofoam.  No plastic bags.  The bags get caught on the processing equipment, clogging things up.  Most supermarkets accept them back (e.g., Shaw's, Market Basket, and Wal-Mart).  They bail them and send them back to the warehouse.  In general, the items should be “rigid plastic containers.”  See the next question regarding Stryofoam.

Q:  Can we recycle Styrofoam in Tewksbury and if not what can we do with it?

A:  We do not recycle Styrofoam (actually Expanded Polystyrene or “EPS”) here in Tewksbury as part of our current program, but you might want to check out the following links:

The Plastic Loose Fill Council offers a toll-free Peanut Hotline; call (800) 828-2214 or go to to find out which of the 1,500 peanut collection sites are located closest to you. (Type in Massachusetts not the zip code)

Here’s how one facility handles the blocks of EPS -

You can also check with Earth 911.  This currently covers places that take packing peanuts, but could get updated at any time to cover the blocks of EPS.

Also, there is a new type of packing popcorn that is made from corn starch. It melts in water and is biodegradable.  If anyone wants to make the extra effort, the next time you receive those little EPS buggers, you should call or write to the company and ask them to consider using the 'environmentally-friendly' corn starch popcorn instead of the EPS popcorn.

We held a test Styrofoam collection day and it was quite successful, so keep looking for more information on future events!

Q:  Can people leave the cellophane window in the cardboard pasta boxes?

A:  Plastic windows are fine.  They are considered “minor contamination” and are removed during processing.

Q:  Orange Juice cartons – Does Tewksbury’s program handle these?

A:  Even though they may be collected in other towns, paper milk cartons and paper juice cartons are not accepted by our collection contractor’s processor, and as such, should not be placed in the bin. They only increase the contamination percentage, thus driving up the cost of processing.

Q:  How do we get rid of things considered “construction materials,” such as lumber/plywood, ceramic tiles, asphalt shingles, and sheetrock?

A:  This is one of our most frequent questions and can often be a difficult one to answer depending on the materials being discussed.  First, any work producing a high volume of material should be disposed of privately, using a dumpster/disposal contractor.  For smaller volumes (e.g., a few tiles/shingles you are replacing, or a few pieces of wood/sheetrock), there are some options:  sheetrock can be brought to the DPW on the 3rd Saturday of every month (see Calendar). 

Q:  Do I need a recycling bin?

A:  the Town of Tewksbury does not suply recycling bins.  Place recyclables in a container (other than a cardboard box)  clearly separate from your refuse with the cover off on your week.

Q:  I recycle a lot and don’t have enough room to hold it for 2 weeks.  Why can’t we recycle every week?

A:  The quick answer is that we wouldn’t recycle enough to offset the additional cost of collecting every week.  Numbers in nearby towns that have attempted to increase recycling by collecting every week have proven this.  Unless the town changes to a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) system, the collection of recyclables is likely to remain bi-weekly.  All that being said, weekly recycling is currently being looked into for our next contract!