BETHEL — Shedding, minimalizing, downsizing: whatever the description, it all means letting go, whether it’s clothes, household goods, computers, phones, batteries or something else. Looking to let go often signals the start of the new year and many people want to reduce their footprint by recycling.

First a state-wide pat on the back. Maine rates #1 according to a “50 States of Recycling” report with a whopping 72% recycling rate. By comparison, West Virginia is only 2%. Surprisingly, only about ten states even have a bottle bill law.

In the past year, Maine banned plastic shopping bags and foam food containers. The state recently passed a first-in-the-nation law called, “Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging” which requires producers of packing materials to pay for Maine’s recycling programs.

“Through this law we’ll have a greater sense of how much packaging is sold into Maine. There will be fees associated with that based on how much and the type of material you’re sending in… it’s going to have a major focus on reduction and reuse. It will focus on increasing our recycling capacity ability here in Maine,” said Sarah Nichols, director of Sustainable Maine who along with Matt Grondin of Ecomaine, was a featured guest on Maine Calling, broadcast on 11/29 on Maine Public Radio.

Nichols asserts, “Maine is leading the way in the United States when it comes to Recycling Laws and plastics.”  However, sometimes finding the right location or figuring out the rules can be challenging. What is and isn’t recyclable? Where are the best places to recycle?

What can be recycled


Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, and phone books (find out how to reduce your junk mail at

Mixed paper – Most types of clean paper, envelopes, cereal boxes, junk mail, milk cartons.

Glass jars and bottles, aluminum cans, paper take-out coffee cups

Plastics – #1-7, containers, some lids, plastic packaging.

Corrugated cardboard and brown paper bags

Greasy pizza boxes : are okay now according to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) In 2020 a study conducted by WestRock – an AF&PA member company – found “the presence of grease and cheese at levels typically found on pizza boxes does not impact manufacturing in a negative way.” The boxes also make good compost


Rigid plastics – 5 gallon buckets, plastic lawn chairs, milk & soda crates, landscape trays, coolers, toys and playhouses, pet carriers, CD & DVD cases, VHS tapes, garbage cans (empty), and more.

Always check with the attendants. In Bethel, for instance, rigid plastics go in a separate bin on the upper hill.

What can’t be recycled

Plastic bags, bread bags, and bubble wrap cannot be thrown in the recycling bin at the transfer station. Side stream these to the manufacturer, (see: “plastic shopping bags” below) or go to: to use their locator tool.

Food and yard waste (compost elsewhere)

Tanglers: cords, rope, cables etc. because they get caught in the machinery


Combustibles: propane cans or tanks, rechargeable batteries. They are all very dangerous because the chemicals inside can interact with the atmosphere and start a fire. Grondin said these have increased in volume in the environment over the past few years. They are in greeting cards and more. (In this case, think: reduce).

Tissue paper, receipts that are smaller than a postage stamp, and paper towels have fibers that are too short to recycle.

Caps from milk cartons and jars should be thrown in the trash, although they can be processed it will add sorting work at the recycling station, said Grondin. Often they are not recyclable but, ‘If they’re the same, they remain.’

Styrofoam, while it often carries a recycling number, “at the end of the day, is unfortunately trash,”  said Grondin.

PVC pipes

Crinkly plastic bags- the supermarkets do not want these and they do not belong in the recycling bin, either.


Recycling at area transfer stations is easy, since all Mainers have access to a single sort recycling facility. While single sort has more contamination, it has encouraged participation in recycling. Yet, according to Greenwood Town Manager, Kim Sparks, trash has increased at a greater volume than recycled materials in the Woodstock-Greenwood Transfer Station in the past few years.

Recycled yogurt containers, milk  bottles and other glass and plastic containers are used to make new water bottles, new carpet, new fabric, car bumpers, and plastic netting for your garden. said Matt Grondin of Ecomaine. “(The #3-7’s) we are keeping them out of landfills and turning them into new things.” For instance, from #2 plastics which are milk jugs and laundry jugs, come composite lumber and playground equipment is made.

Other places

old eye glasses– Mountain View Eyecare, 140 Main Street, Bethel or any Walmart. They will donate your old eyeglasses to the Lion’s Club, where  they will be repaired, checked, then re-distributed to people, who are unable afford to buy a new pair.

books: Bethel Library, 5 Broad Street, Bethel. New Bethel Librarian, Kelcy Boles, said the library receives proceeds by recycling any books that don’t sell. The shed for donations, as well as buying, is behind the library and is open as long as snow doesn’t block the entrance.

newspapers: get them at the Bethel Citizen, 19 Main Street, Bethel. Locals take them for their puppies and to use as fire starters.


electronics: Best Buy & Staples offer free recycling for many electronics; check their web sites for details. Or go to the universal shed at the transfer station. They store: rechargeable batteries, laptops, televisions, computer monitors, automobile batteries, and mercury items: thermometers, thermostats, switches and florescent bulbs .

Because these sheds contain hazardous materials, do not go in, hand it to a line attendant.

plastic shopping bags:

Hannaford’s, Walmart : and other markets will take back the stretchy plastic bags but not the crinkly plastic bags: On their Facebook page, Hannaford’s lists the bags that are recyclable at their stores: newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, produce bags, toilet paper, napkin, and paper towel wraps, furniture wrap, electronic wrap, plastic retail bags/Packaging (hard plastic, string handles removed, Deli bags and containers.), grocery bag, plastic food storage bags (clean and dry) – (e.g. Ziploc® Bags), plastic cereal box liners (if it tears like paper do not include), Tyvek (no glue, labels, other material), diaper wrap (packaging), plastic shipping envelopes, bubble wrap, and air pillows (deflate/remove labels if possible), case wrap (e.g., snacks, water bottles) and all clean, dry bags labeled #2 or #4.


Bethel Transfer Station: a large shed  (formerly the pick pile shed) at the Bethel Transfer Station is now for returnable cans and bottles. Telstar and Team Hailey’s Hugs alternate monthly pick-up. In the summer, the 4-H club makes pick ups. These groups make a approximately $1,000. per month from bottles and cans. Andover Fire Department collects redeemables, too.


A & J Redemption: 16 Walker Lane, off E. Bethel Road, open Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to 3:30 PM. They accept all Maine labeled bottles and cans.

Transfer Stations: please note: stickers purchased at respective town halls are required

Andover: on South Main Street, route 5; Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-4; Saturdays 8-4; Sundays 8-2. Shed for batteries and lightbulbs, They have a goodwill bin and a Share Shack. The fire station has a bin for returnable bottles and cans.

Albany Township:   on route 5, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8-4, Saturdays 8-4 and Sundays 8-Noon. They have bins for metal, brush, tires and wood. The cash from redeemables benefits the transfer station. Jim Kidder, retired from Waterford Public Works after 44 years, says people shouldn’t be discouraged if they read that recycled products are not being recycled. While he admits that it was easier years ago when they bundled everything and sent it to China, he is confident that innovators will find more uses here in the U.S. He cited tires being made into playground equipment and glass as an inner layer for roads.

West Paris: 171 Pioneer Street, Wednesdays & Saturdays 8:00 am – 4:00 pm; Sunday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. Open all holidays. In West Paris you must use clear or white trash bags. Along with household trash, they take: metal including paint cans and appliances, tires, universal waste (televisions, computer monitors, florescent bulbs, etc.). They have Zero sort recycling.

They charge a small fee for: tires, chairs, couches, mattresses and box springs.

They issue permits for wood and demolition debris disposal and they enforce limits.


Bethel: route 26 (also serves, Hanover and Newry): Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 9-4. Besides the recycling materials’ bin, Bethel has: a donation bin for clothes and shoes, a shed for universal waste: batteries, laptops,  computer monitors, car batteries, rechargeable batteries and mercury items, including fluorescent bulbs. The town contracts with North Coast Services to take those.

Large Containers on the upper level are for large household items, non-recyclable plastics, mattresses and more. A shed is for monitors. The stump dump off the Flat Road is for brush.

Bethel charges small fees for some household items.

Gilead: Bridge Street, Saturday 7-4 and Tuesdays 4-7. Fred Corriveau, the Road Commissioner in Gilead said, they accept tires at no charge for Gilead residents because “otherwise people would dump them on the side of the road.” The Gilead Transfer Station, like others, accepts: universal waste, brush, clothing in the Apparel Impact bin, and metal. They also allow residents to come get as much sand as they need.

Greenwood/Woodstock: route 26, Wednesday and Saturday, 8AM-4PM; Sunday 8AM-2PM. They have a clothes bin and a universal waste area. There is a scrap metal area. 5 lbs and larger propane tanks are not accepted. A&B Forestry, (57 Paris Road), accepting brush, reopens in May and stays open until late November.

Next week, options for reuse, repurposing, and upcycling will be listed.

Finally, Nichols stressed the importance of recycling and eventually lessening plastic in our lives, “People eat an estimated credit card’s worth of trash every week. It’s in our food and in our water.”

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