Your Recycling Questions, Answered.

December 13, 2023

Recycling questions. We all have them!

And living in a unique state like New Hampshire where each individual town and city is responsible for handling their own recycling (and no two towns do things the same) means that recycling questions can be especially confusing. 

We've gathered some of the common questions we hear to help give you a sense of the recycling landscape in New Hampshire AND point you to some really great resources you may not know exist! 

Why is recycling in my community the way it is? It's different in other towns, and I don't know why.

If your town is a member of NRRA (and 90% of towns in NH are!) then part of what our organization does is help your town with finding end markets for many of its recyclable items. The best place to start if you have questions is with your Transfer Station Supervisor. They are the best source of information as to why your town has made the recycling decisions it has. 

Why doesn't my town recycle all/some/a specific type of plastic?

As you can imagine, plastics recycling is a common source of confusion and concern among residents. Speaking with your local transfer station staff is the best place to start to ensure you're getting information relevant to the needs of your particular community. There are a variety of ways in which communities approach plastic recycling, and many currently only recycle #1 and #2 plastic containers. Price, space, and convenience for residents are some of the factors that go into a community's decision about plastics recycling, as well as other recycling.

Here are some articles NRRA has written on the topic of plastics recycling:

- The Reality of Plastics Recycling
- Recycling Markets with Brian: Let's Talk Plastics
- Plastic #1 PET Movement Slows
- Market Capacity Concerns
- Let's Talk Plastic Recycling (Video)

Why doesn't my town recycle paper or cardboard?

Similar to the considerations with plastic - including price, space, storage, and transportation - there are several factors that go into a town's decision whether or not to recycle paper and cardboard. Speaking with your Transfer Station Supervisor can help answer why your town in particular has this recycling set up. 

Here are some articles NRRA has written on the topic of paper and cardboard recycling:

- What Happens When You Recycle Cardboard? (Video)
- Market Capacity Concerns
- Recycling Markets are Down: Here's Why
- The Heartbeat of Recycling

I heard that recycling just gets thrown in a landfill, is that true? Where can I learn more about recycling in New Hampshire?

Recyclables are a commodity that can be sold for revenue. Even when recyclables are sold at a cost to the town, it is often less than the cost of throwing the recyclables away, which would have a "tipping fee." If you would like to learn more about recycling in New Hampshire, check out our Recycling 101 video - it was designed to answer these very questions! 

What actually happens to my recyclables once I leave them at the transfer station or they are picked up from my curb? Do my plastics just end up in the ocean?

First of all, NO, your recyclables are not being thrown into the ocean! Most don't even leave the country - they are processed into raw materials and recycled into new products. To see how the recycling process works, check out our Recycling Education Toolkit where we gathered videos of the aluminum, batteries, composting, glass, paper and cardboard, plastics, and steel and tin recycling process! 

Sometimes recycling feels overwhelming. How can I stay up to date on what I should be doing or what's important when it comes to recycling? 

NRRA continues to design resources for people just like you so you can keep up with the  changing world of recycling. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, "Full of Scrap," which focuses on recycling in the Northeast. You are welcome to join us at our Annual Recycling Conference & Expo for two days big-picture and commodity-specific workshops, inspiration, and ideas. Finally, our website is a wealth of information - click on the "Resources" drop down arrow for tons of great options! Our Recycle Right section is designed for residents and covers everything from starting a recycling habit, busting recycling myths, helpful recycling videos, and loads of recycling education (it's also designed to be shared!)

- Sign up for Full of Scrap
- Learn more about our Annual Recycling Conference
- Check out our Recycle Right section

We know you may have additional questions - and that many of the answers are complicated because recycling and managing a transfer station is complicated!

If there's a recycling topic you would like to see us covered, let us know! You can email our Communications Manager at: