The Big Blue Bin

Following the Path of Cape Cod's Recycling

Disruptions to international recycling markets have been widely reported, leading many to wonder how well our local recycling is working.  Our series examines the four major household recycling streams – cans, glass, paper, and plastic – to discover how much of what we toss into the big blue bin is really being recycled, and at what cost.  

On this page you'll find the stories from this series, as well as a video with 9 tips for improving your recycling habits.

Sarah Mizes-Tan / WCAI



When you throw a plastic bottle in a recycling bin on Cape Cod, there's a good chance it will head to a municipal recycling facility called E.L. Harvey, in Westborough, Massachusetts. Where it goes from there depends a lot on what kind of plastic it is.

When it comes to recycling, all paper is not created equal. Some types of paper are more in demand by recyclers than others. In part, this is due to a recent policy shift by China.  And the local result is a change in the way many Cape Cod towns now recycle paper.  

Kathryn Eident / WCAI-FM

Ever take a close look inside your fridge? That might be a scary prospect. But, what’s in there? A half-empty pickle jar? A few bottles of beer? Until last year, that glass inside your fridge was destined to come back as another container—as long as you recycled or redeemed it.

Hayley Fager


Changes in overseas markets have impacted what gets recycled and how. But when you put a drink can or a metal food container into your blue bin here on Cape Cod, there’s a good chance that it will be recycled into another metal product.