Wrapping paper new recycling public enemy

By Adam Strunk

Putting wrapping paper into the recycling bin this Christmas might just land you on the City of Newton’s naughty list.

The City of Newton will no longer accept wrapping paper as part of its recycle program after Waste Connections, which eventually hauls away Newton recycling, informed the city it wasn’t going to take the ubiquitous holiday byproduct.

Erin McDaniel, director of communications for City of Newton, said that many wrapping papers include glitter, foil or metallic coatings, something Waste Connections determined was not recyclable.

“Waste Connections made the determination that they weren’t going to have people decide what was good or not,” McDaniel said. “They were just going to not accept wrapping paper. It’s simpler for them to say ‘no, none.’”

McDaniel said residents should put wrapping paper in the trash as well as bags and other gift wrapping byproducts to be safe.

She said the no wrapping paper rule signals a change for residents, as it had been accepted in the past.

She said the city will likely do something to inform residents of the rule change.

Failure to follow city recycling rules can result in warnings or for those who do recycle to be kicked out of the city program with repeat violations.

In turn, on the city’s end, if its recycling doesn’t meet Waste Connection’s purity standards, the company, per agreement, can fine the city and reject its recycling truck for a month from the transfer station.

The rules changed last year after the bottom fell out of the domestic recycling market after China implemented stricter standards for importing US recycling. Waste Connections successfully renegotiated its contract with the county—and in turn the cities which are its customers—to implement stricter recycling standards.

This caused Newton to switch over to voluntary recycling and undertake a small rate increase at $1.08 per month.

Since then, the city has worked to ensure its loads were not rejected by Waste Connections. It hired an employee to go help monitor recycling loads. In the first six months of the implementation this year, no city trucks had been rejected, but 372 or the 2,632 households that signed up for the program were removed for repeat recycling violations.

Just because something has the recycling symbol on it does not mean it is acceptable for city recycling.

The city accepts aluminum and tin cans, glass, plastic containers and corrugated cardboard. It also accepts mixed paper…as long as it’s not wrapping paper.

“If you are one of those people who wraps your gifts in newsprint, you’re good,” McDaniel said.

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