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Frequently Asked Questions
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Franklin County, Massachusetts 

Frequently Asked Questions

General Recycling
Hazardous Waste
Motor Oil
Oil Filters
Automotive Batteries
Household Batteries
Fluorescent Bulbs
Paints & Stains
Hard-to-Manage Items
Smoke Detectors
Propane Tanks
Appliances and Scrap Metal
Construction and Demolition Debris
Asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Items
Hypodermic Needles from Home Use
Buy Recycled
Junk Mail
At Your Work Place

General Recycling 

What can I recycle at the curb or at my transfer station? 
How do I prepare my recyclables?
What's recyclable  
Preparing recyclables

What other items can I take to my local transfer station?
This varies somewhat from town to town. Specific information for your town: Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Rowe, Shelburne, Warwick, Wendell, Whately

Where can I get a recycling bin?
Some towns distribute free recycling bins to residents.  Other towns sell recycling bins. The District also sells recycling bins.  Call the District at 413-772-2438 or email at info@franklincountywastedistrict.org.

Where do the recyclables go after getting picked up?  I’ve heard some of it goes to the landfill.
Most recyclable items get transported from your town to the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility (SMRF, pronounced "Smurf").  This facility has a combination of mechanical equipment and human employees to separate the material into specific categories, such as mixed paper, cardboard, glass, steel cans, aluminum, and plastic containers.  The only time that recyclables might get landfilled is if there is a large amount of contamination in a specific load.  For example, if someone dumps used motor oil into the recycling then all of the material will be thrown out because it cannot be recycled.  For more information about the SMRF and the regional advisory board, visit the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility website.

My recyclables weren’t picked up at the curb.  Why and who do I call?
The District is not involved with any curbside collection programs.  You have to contact your town offices to get information on why your recycling bin wasn’t picked up and to report bins that were missed.

Can I really make a difference?
We know there are benefits of recycling for the environment. Recycling conserves natural resources. Did you ever think of how much? To give you an idea of the significance, if we recycle all our paper in Western Massachusetts for one year, we will save over 2.5 million trees, which is about a 5,000-acre forest. Further, if we recycle every can in Western Massachusetts for one year, we will save enough metal to manufacture 6,000 cars. 

Recycling also saves energy. For example, to make recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy than to make new aluminum from bauxite ore. Recycling also saves landfill space. The northeastern area of the US has limited landfill space and recycling will make landfills last longer.  Recycling also lowers incineration emissions of hydrogen sulfide (which causes acid rain), carbon monoxide and several heavy metals. 

There are many excuses people give for not recycling, one of them being “What I throw away doesn't amount to much." That's just not true. In Massachusetts alone we throw away 6.8 million tons of solid waste a year. An average person produces 4.3 pounds of waste a day.  By recycling, you really are making a difference.

What new products come from recycled materials? 
Manufacturers take your recyclables and make them into new products such as copy paper, post-it notes, index cards, file folders, newspapers, cereal boxes, paper towels, egg cartons, envelopes, napkins, aluminum cans, glass containers, compost bins, recycling collection containers, plastic lumber, traffic cones, carpeting, car bumpers, trash bags, and laundry detergent bottles.  This is just a short list of recycled products.  When you buy a product, look for words that indicate it is made from recycled materials.

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Hazardous Waste

What is household hazardous waste?
The term Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) covers many products, but is generally defined as a material that is a potential threat to the environment or human health.  Typically these materials have one or more of the following properties: flammable, toxic, reactive, or corrosive.  

How should household hazardous waste be disposed? 
Proper disposal of HHW is very important.  Improper disposal of household hazardous waste can cause problems for the entire community. Wastes can be explosive or highly flammable. Hazardous wastes can also be corrosive. One of the worst ways to dispose of hazardous materials is to “just dump them down the drain.”  Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to handle hazardous wastes nor are home septic systems. Disposing of hazardous wastes in a landfill causes groundwater and surface water pollution.

The District provides two different disposal options for residents and small businesses:

  • The District holds an annual HHW collection in the fall for hazardous waste from households and small businesses.  This collection is free to residents. Businesses must pay for their disposal costs. Both residents and businesses must pre-register to participate. (Note: Registrations are accepted only during a 3-4 week period before the collection date.)
  • Motor oil, oil filters, used antifreeze, oil-based or alkyd paints, stains, varnishes, thinner, fluorescent lamps, light ballasts, thermometers, thermostats, rechargeable batteries, and button batteries are accepted at the Hazardous Waste Super Sites at the Bernardston, Colrain, and Conway transfer stations. There is a small fee for most items. 
  • Most District towns accept fluorescent lights and batteries from their residents.

How do I store my HHW until the next collection? 
Here are some helpful hints for safely storing your household hazardous waste until you bring it to the annual HHW collection or the Super Sites:

  • DO NOT mix different chemicals for storage or transport. 
  • DO leave products in their original containers with the label intact. 
  • DO place leaking containers into a five-gallon plastic pail or similar safe containment device until proper disposal is available.
  • Store in containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Keep away from children and pets.
How do I dispose of motor oil? 
Store used oil in leak-proof containers with tight fitting screw-on lids.  The District sells specially designed containers for storing and transporting used motor oil.  Call 413-772-2438 or email info@franklincountysolidwastedistrict.org for more information.
  • Return used oil for recycling to the store where you purchased it. Retailers are required to accept used oil for recycling (up to 2 gallons per person per day) if you have the original purchase receipt.
  • Take your used oil to any of the following places:
    • Some service stations and repair garages do not sell motor oil but burn the oil to heat their garage and will take back used oil from residents. 
    • Used Oil Hotline:  (617) 556-1022. Use this number also to report retailers who are unwilling to accept used oil from customers who have a receipt.
How do I dispose of oil filters?
Do NOT dispose of an undrained oil filter in the trash. Puncture a hole in the dome of the filter and drain for several hours, preferably while still “hot.” Pour the oil into a leak-proof container with a tight fitting screw-on lid. The filter may then be put in the trash or can be brought to one of the District’s Super Sites. There is a fee for recycling the filter at the collection sites. Some District towns accept used oil filters throughout the year.
How do I dispose of antifreeze?
Antifreeze does not go bad. Rather than disposing of it, donate unused antifreeze to a friend, a mechanic, or school auto shop that can use it.
  • Take used antifreeze to a Hazardous Waste Super Site at the Bernardston, Colrain, or Conway Transfer Stations OR save it for the annual hazardous waste collection.
  • Empty containers can be disposed of in the trash. 
  • NEVER pour antifreeze on the ground.  Cats and dogs like the sweet taste of antifreeze but it can kill them because of its toxicity.
How do I dispose of automotive batteries?
Do not throw in the trash.  Automotive batteries are banned from landfills and combustion facilities in Massachusetts and must be brought to a collection center.
  • Most automotive battery retailers will accept old batteries when you purchase a new one.
  • Some District towns accept automotive batteries from their residents throughout the year.
  • The District accepts automotive batteries at its annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection.
  • Auto batteries may also be taken to WTE Metal Recycling.
Before disposing of the automotive battery, please take the following precautions:
  • Handle batteries with acid resistant or leather gloves.
  • Keep sparks and flames away from batteries and don't smoke nearby.
  • Never place metal objects on top of the battery because it can cause sparks.  Remove rings, chains, and other metallic items before handling.
  • Keep batteries right side up. 
  • Carry in a non-metallic, leak proof container.
  • If the battery leaks, neutralize any spilled acid with baking soda or calcium carbonate (lime).  Flush area with water.
  • If acid comes in contact with skin, flush area with water immediately and seek medical attention if burning continues.
How do I dispose of household batteries?
Battery disposal 

How do I dispose of fluorescent lamps?
Fluorescent bulbs, including compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), contain mercury and must be disposed of properly. The good news is that it is easier than ever to dispose of fluorescent light bulbs. Proper disposal is now available at all transfer stations and some town halls within the District. Transfer stations in Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Heath, Leverett, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Rowe, Shelburne, Warwick, Wendell, and Whately now host fluorescent lamp recycling programs for their residents. Residents of Deerfield, Gill, Hawley, and Sunderland may now recycle fluorescent lamps at their town halls. The Town of Greenfield accepts fluorescents from Greenfield residents at the Greenfield transfer station. Small fees ($0.50 to 1.00) for recycling vary from town to town. Check with your town or transfer station for pricing. Expired, unbroken CFLs may also be brought to any Home Depot store (returns desk), any Aubuchon Hardware store, or the Greenfield Solar Store for recycling. The stores do not charge for this service. 

If you break a fluorescent lamp, clear the area immediately.  Wait ten minutes.  Using plastic/latex gloves, carefully pick up the broken pieces and place them into a bag or box for disposal. When the mercury vapor is released, the glass can be thrown out.  However, it is dangerous to your health to intentionally break fluorescent lamps.  Throw out the gloves when you’re done.

How do I dispose of paints and stains?
If the paint is usable and there is a reasonable quantity, try to donate it to a community service organization or theater group. 

For oil-based paints:

  • Take to the District’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection each fall.
  • Take to the Hazardous Waste Super Sites at the Bernardston, Colrain, or Conway. There is a fee. 
  • Empty cans can be recycled with scrap metal, if your town accepts them, or placed in the trash.
For latex paint:

Latex paint is not considered hazardous because it is water-based.  The District does not accept latex paint at any of its collection sites or at the annual collection event.

  • Latex paint can be disposed of as trash if dry.  To dry small amounts, remove lid and let the paint dry in the can.  For larger amounts, mix in latex paint hardener or kitty litter. Or pour one-inch layers of paint in a cardboard box lined with a plastic bag.  Stir the paint occasionally to speed drying.  Put completely dried paint in the trash. 
  • Empty cans can be recycled with scrap metal, if your town accepts them, or placed in the trash.

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Hard-to-Manage Items 

How do I dispose of smoke detectors?
Dispose of smoke detectors in the trash. Certain smoke detectors contain a radioactive sensing device, but the radioactivity is so low that it is considered harmless. 

How do I dispose of propane tanks?
Do NOT dispose of propane tanks in the trash or with scrap metal.
  • Many District towns collect propane tanks – with and without gas – from residents.
  • If your town doesn’t collect propane tanks, you can bring them to the District's Clean Sweep Collection (twice annually, spring and fall).
  • When transporting a propane cylinder always ensure that the valve is tightly closed and that the tank is secured in an upright position.
  • Keep sparks and flames away from propane tanks and never smoke nearby.
  • Small gas canisters from camp stoves can be placed in the trash when empty – unless your trash goes to an incinerator. If your trash goes to an incinerator save them for the District’s annual hazardous waste collection each fall.
How do I dispose of electronics?
If the item is still functioning and usable, try to donate it to a charity or non-profit group who may be able to use it. These include Goodwill and Salvation Army.
  • It is illegal to dispose of TVs and computer monitors in the trash. 
  • Most District towns have a collection system for these items and other electronics.
  • If your town doesn’t collect electronics, you can bring them to the District's Clean Sweep Collection (twice annually, spring and fall).
How do I dispose of appliances and scrap metal?
  • Many District towns collect appliances and scrap metal from residents.
  • If your town doesn’t collect these items, you can bring them to the District's Clean Sweep Collection (twice annually, spring and fall). 
  • There is a local scrap metal facility in Greenfield: wTe Recycling at 413-772-2200. There is a fee for appliances with freon (refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers).
  • It is against federal law to vent any appliance with freon (CFCs) into the air. Never cut piping on refrigerators or air conditioners. There is a fine and possible jail term for venting freon.
What do I do with tires?
  • It is illegal to dispose of tires in a landfill in Massachusetts. 
  • Most District towns collect tires.
  • If your town doesn’t collect tires, you can bring them to the District's Clean Sweep Collection (twice annually, spring and fall).

 What do I do with construction and demolition debris?
  • Some District towns will accept this material from residents. 
  • If your town doesn’t collect construction and demolition debris, you can bring it to the District's Clean Sweep Collection (twice annually, spring and fall).
  • If you have used (or surplus) building materials in REUSABLE condition, they can be donated to EcoBuilding Bargains in Springfield, Massachusetts. Contact them first to make sure they can accept your materials.
  • Never include asbestos or asbestos-containing items with construction and demolition debris. 
How do I dispose of asbestos or asbestos-containing items?
Asbestos is a difficult material to dispose because of the serious health dangers associated with it. Contact the District directly at 413-772-2438 or at info@franklincountywastedistrict.org for specific assistance with disposing of asbestos or asbestos-containing items.

Is it safe to throw away used hypodermic needles from home use?
Do not place needles in the trash. Safe disposal of needles ("sharps") protects recycling and trash collection workers, as well as family members of sharps users. Help us prevent unintended needle sticks – use our sharps collection program from now on. 

The Solid Waste District provides free one quart or one gallon sharps boxes to residents who use needles and lancets. Once a sharps box is full, you can bring it to one of nine Franklin County locations, and pick up an empty sharps box to take home. This program is open to all Franklin County residents, and you may use whichever collection site is most convenient for you. Please call our office, 413-772-2438, for information about the locations and hours of the collection sites. This program is completely free to residents. 


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I want to start composting but don’t know where to start. 
The District can guide you through the process. There are several locations that sell composting bins at a reduced price for residents. You can also make your own compost bin. The District has easy-to-read instructions on what can and can’t be composted as well as how to manage a compost pile.  

Do I have to turn the pile? What about adding water?
It is not necessary to turn the pile or to add water. Compost happens naturally without a lot of effort on your part. However, your organic waste will turn into compost faster if you make sure the moisture level is ideal (as wet as a wrung-out sponge) and the pile is turned to maintain temperature and consistency.

Do I need to add manure, leaves, grass, etc.?
As noted above, compost will happen without a lot of effort. Ideally, you should make sure that you have a combination of materials in your compost pile. Leaves will help absorb extra moisture in your pile and add carbon. Grass will add nitrogen. Both can be used effectively to cover food waste and reduce flying insects.

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Buy Recycled

I’ve heard the term "Close the Loop" in reference to recycling. What does it mean? 
Recycling depends on a three-part "recycling loop" that includes collection, manufacturing, and purchase of recycled products. Municipal and business collection programs ensure a steady supply of materials (cans, bottles, paper) for the recycling process. Private recycling companies use these materials to manufacture new products. Finally, consumers and businesses must purchase the finished recycled products in order to support a sustainable recycling loop.

What is the difference between Post-Consumer and Pre-Consumer?
Post-consumer refers to material that has been purchased, used, and then recycled. Pre-consumer refers to material that is generated during a manufacturing process, such as scraps from the cutting of envelopes.  Instead of being disposed, the materials such as trimmings, damaged or obsolete products, or overruns are collected and incorporated into recycled products.

As a consumer, how do I "buy recycled?"
Read the label to see if the product is made with recycled content. Look for the highest percentage of "post consumer recycled content" you can find. There are everyday products that have recycled content that may not be labeled as such. These products include: steel products such as food cans, cars, appliances, bicycles, furniture; aluminum products such as beverage cans; glass bottles and jars.  While you shop, read the labels on the following products to see if they are made using recycled content: 

  • Paper products: cereal, cake mix and cracker boxes; facial tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, corrugated cardboard boxes, writing paper, greeting cards, copier and printer paper, and office paper. 
  • Plastic bottles: bottles and jugs containing liquid laundry detergent, dishwashing liquids, shampoos, and household cleaners. 
There are many more recycled products found in your grocery store, hardware store, office supply store, and home shopping catalogs. There is a long list of recycled or environmentally preferable products that you may not have even thought about. Here’s a partial listing: re-refined motor oil, antifreeze, fiberfill for sleeping bags, carpet, shoes, pencils, recycling bins, clothing, building insulation, wallboard, tiles, paint, traffic cones, trash bags, plastic lumber, and many promotional items. Just read the labels! 

I heard that recycled paper is not as good as non-recycled paper and that recycled products cost more.   Is that true?
Recycled products used to cost more, but that is typically not the case anymore. Many recycled products are priced competitively with their nonrecycled counterparts, and some recycled products may even be less expensive. If you still see higher prices, shop around and ask for assistance from your vendor to find a better price for your recycled products. Recycled paper prices often vary from vendor to vendor and fluctuate over time. Some companies’ prices may be higher because they are not purchasing recycled products in bulk. 

As for quality, recycled products have the same quality, reliability, and dependability as their nonrecycled counterparts. Advances in technology continue to improve the quality of recycled products. Recycled content papers now share the same printing and performance characteristics as their nonrecycled equivalent. Recycled papers no longer look different - recycled content papers have the same whiteness and brightness as nonrecycled papers. They also offer the same level of usability and high quality imaging on copiers and laser and ink jet printers. 

The District office has been using recycled paper in our copier, fax machine, and printers for well over a decade and has been very pleased with the quality. If you experience problems with recycled copy paper, try another brand. Don’t be quick to blame the recycled paper. Test samples of the many available recycled brands.

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Junk Mail

How can I stop receiving junk mail?
Most of us are tired of seeing our mailboxes fill up with stacks of junk mail. There are several things you can do to let advertisers know you want to be removed from their mailing lists. Pick up a Reduce Junk Mail Kit from the District office that includes pre-printed postcards to the companies listed below or follow the steps below.

  • Send a postcard to the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service. Include on the postcard your name, address and phone number in all the various ways they appear on the junk mail you receive. This will add your name to the “delete file” where it will remain for five years. Approximately 70% of direct marketers use the Service to avoid sending unwanted mail.
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Send a postcard to the following addresses. Include on your postcard your name, address and phone number in all the various ways they appear on the junk mail you receive. Include the following language, “Please remove my name from your mailing list.  DO NOT LEND, SELL, or TRADE my name to any other organization for its mailing lists.” Be certain to sign and date the postcard.

Haines and Company
Criss-Cross Directory
Attn: Dir. of Data Processing
8050 Freedom Avenue, NW
North Canton, OH 44720
Harte Hanks Direct Marketing
List Maintenance
100 Alco Place
Baltimore, MD 21227-2090
Database America
Attn: Opt-Outs
470 Chestnut Ridge Road
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677-7604
National Demographics & Lifestyle
List Order Services
1621 18th St., Suite 300
Denver, CO 80202-1294
List Services
PO Box 4196
Hartford, CT 06147
American Business Information
Attn:Product Quality
P.O. Box 27347
Omaha, NE 68127
  • Use postage paid response cards and envelopes to return junk mail. Be sure to include the mailing label and request to be removed from the mailing list.
  • When you apply for a credit card, magazine subscription or membership in an organization, or donate to a charity, write, “Please do not rent, sell, trade or give my name to other businesses or organizations” on your application.
  • Have the phone company remove your name from the published phone directory.   Some mailing list companies use the directory as a source of addresses.
  • If you are getting duplicate mailings, send the company both labels and ask them to eliminate the extra copy.
  • Junk mail with first class postage can be returned.  Write “Return to Sender” on the envelope.  This does not require additional postage.
  • You will prevent many credit card offers by calling 1-888-567-8688.  The National Opt-Out Center will remove your name from major credit bureaus.  Contact the center every two years to keep your name from being sold for credit and insurance offers.
  • Avoid filling out contest entries.  Contests are often used to develop mailing lists.
  • When moving, send out your own postcards announcing your new address to that mail you want to receive. The US Post Office rents the information from change of address cards to private businesses. 
Junk Mail Facts:
  • Weight of paper in U.S. municipal solid waste in 1980: 55 million tons.
  • Weight of paper in U.S. municipal solid waste in 1998: 84 million tons
  • Weight of catalogs and other direct mailings in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream in 1998: 5.2 million tons
  • Number of trees it takes to make a ton of paper: 17 
  • Rate at which bulk mail was recycled in 1998: 18.9%
  • Number of garbage trucks it would take to haul away all the unrecycled junk mail in the U.S. to landfills and incinerators each year:  340,000
  • Typical weight of 4 elephants:  17.8 tons
  • Amount of bulk mail delivered annually by each of the U.S. Postal Service's 293,000 letter carriers: 17.8 tons
  • Amount of time the average American spends opening bulk mail over the course of his or her life:  8 months
  • Money spent by U.S. companies on direct mail in 1993: $27.3 billion
  • Money spent by U.S. companies on direct mail in 1998: $39.3 billion
  • Tax dollars spent to dispose of junk mail:  $275 million
  • Pieces of bulk mail sent by U.S. non-profits in one year:  12 billion
  • The average adult is on 50 mailing lists

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At Your Work Place

My office wants to recycle but how do we start?
Recycling in the workplace is not a lot different than recycling at home.  You need to place recycling containers in convenient places where recyclable materials are generated – at the copy machine, by desks, in the kitchen area, near a vending machine. 

Some towns will allow small businesses to bring recyclables to the transfer station or to place them at the curb with residential recyclables. Call the District at 413-772-2438 or email at info@franklincountywastedistrict.org to find out if your town allows this. If not the District can help you work with your existing trash hauler to provide recycling service or to locate an independent company to collect your recyclables.  In most cases, there will be a fee for picking up recyclables at your work place.

Remember to complete the cycle by purchasing products with recycled content. Talk with your vendor, who may offer the recycled products you are looking for or be able to special-order them.  

What are some other ways to reduce waste in the work place?

  • Post announcements in central locations
  • Circulate documents instead of photocopying them
  • Use a centralized filing system 
  • Edit documents on screen before printing 
  • Use scrap paper for note pads and phone messages
  • Store correspondence electronically
  • Print rough drafts on the unused side of used paper
  • Use double sided copying
  • Set narrower margins
  • Use smaller fonts
  • Reuse manila folders and envelopes
  • Single space documents when possible
  • Donate surplus supplies for reuse 
When buying new office equipment consider: 
  • Laser writers/printers that make double sided copies
  • Fax machines that use plain paper
  • Electronic mail systems
  • Copy machines with double sided capability

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Franklin County Solid Waste Management District
117 Main St., 2nd Floor
Greenfield, MA 01301
Tel: (413) 772-2438
MA Relay for the hearing impaired: 711 or 1-800-439-2370 (TTY/TDD)
Fax: (413) 772-3786
Staff email addresses  

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