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Careless contamination

By the numbers, Harvard’s new SMART recycling initiative has worked better than expected. Harvard residents are recycling more things and throwing away much less than they did a year ago. By and large, they are playing by the rules, at least when there’s someone from the DPW there to watch them. But there’s also plenty of evidence that some townspeople can’t be bothered to properly sort recyclables and put them in the right place.

In his report to the Select Board this week, Department of Public Works Director Tim Kilhart said a load of glass had been rejected this year because it was contaminated, which not only cost the town more to dispose of it as trash, but could cause the DPW to be fined if it happens again. Kilhart said someone threw a plastic tub in the glass container, and he has seen paper, pens, and other refuse tossed there as well.

This is not a matter of lack of information, or even a case of throwing nonrecyclable glass into the container by mistake. It’s just carelessness, or possibly ignorance. But as the market for recyclables grows more chaotic by the day, it’s behavior the town can ill afford.

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