Rochester Adds New “Soft” Recycling Program

In addition to the regular single-stream paper, plastic, and glass recycling collection, Rochester will soon participate in a new curbside recycling program for “soft” recyclables.

On October 4, the Rochester Board of Selectmen held a special meeting and signed a contract with WasteZero, a curbside recycling company, for a separate collection of wares considered “soft” recyclables –clothing, blankets, drapes and other textiles, as well as shoes, hats, small appliances, and small furniture – items that otherwise might have been thrown in the trash.

Beginning January 1, 2019, residents will be provided pink plastic bags to stuff with appropriate items, which are then placed on the curb next to the regular recycling bin on the regularly scheduled recycling pickup days. WasteZero vans will follow the same recycling route to collect any pink plastic bags stuffed with unwanted soft recyclables. Additional empty pink bags will be left behind for future pickups.

Participation in the soft recycling program is voluntary; however, the Town hopes residents will utilize the free service that could potentially keep some of those items from going in the trash, saving the Town money on solid waste disposal fees.

WasteZero provides this service at no cost to the Town, and even reimburses the Town $0.01 per pound of soft recyclables collected each month, or $20 per ton.

The contract with WasteZero is an initial term of three years, with the possibility of renewal for terms of one or three additional years.

WasteZero is responsible for providing the Town with program brochures for town-wide distribution to Rochester residents before implementation of the curbside soft recycling program. Items that will be accepted include clothing, jewelry, shoes, purses, hats, toys, pictures, mirrors, blankets, drapes, pillows, old rags, sewing scraps, sleeping bags, small furniture, small appliances, irons, radios and audio equipment, TVs and video equipment, cameras, lamps, hairdryers, tools, toasters, microwaves, coffee makers, computers and household or consumer electronics, silverware, dishes, pots and pans, glasses, and the like.

Items that are NOT accepted will include garbage, hazardous waste, carpet, newspapers, mattresses, large furniture, large appliances, yard waste, car seats, cribs, paint, tires, or anything weighing over 50 pounds.

According to the EPA, the average person throws away roughly 85 pounds of textiles like clothing, shoes, and carpeting, every year, accounting for 6% of all solid waste. About 84% of re-usable textiles go to waste. This information and more is available at

The next regular meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for October 15 at 6:00 pm at the Rochester Town hall.

Rochester Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry


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