HomeThe CSWD BlogGeneral TopicsIn praise of the humble recycling bin

In praise of the humble recycling bin


That’s how many of those squat, squareish, easily recognizable recycling bins CSWD has distributed since 1993, when we began handing them out to help make recycling an easy, everyday act.

They’re everywhere now, and act as a visual reminder to recycle and a handy tool for making it happen wherever you are.

Of all the container sizes and shapes available to choose from, why did we pick this one?

Glad you asked! There are actually some pretty good reasons why that handy, hardworking bin still the go-to container for recycling.

Why the bin?

Blue plastic recycling bin with a chasing arrows recycling symbol on the front.It’s not tippy.

It’s just big enough to hold a good amount of material…

… but not so big that you can’t wrangle it to the curb for pickup…

… or into the back seat of your car if you haul it yourself to a Drop-Off Center…

… or fit it into a nice, little nook in your kitchen for easy access.

It’s slingable. The folks who pick up curbside recycling can easily and safely sling it into their trucks without risk of injury.

It’s affordable. This enables your friendly solid waste district to offer up to three per household in Chittenden County at no cost.

It’s lidless. While lids would help prevent recyclables from blowing down the street on blustery days, lids can also break off and become projectiles in high winds. They also add a hassle factor for the hardworking crews that pick up your recycling.

Bins vs. Carts

Tall, wheeled carts are, indeed, better designed for our wonderful windy, rainy, snowy, wouldn’t-have-it-any-other-way climate. They are far more expensive than the smaller containers, which is why CSWD can’t provide them to everyone.

We do buy carts in bulk, for sale to trash/recycling hauling companies—along with grant funding so they can pass the savings along to their residents and customers.

These bins are also available through Burlington Public Works. If you are located outside of Burlington, your trash/recycling hauler likely offers them as well.

In the meantime if you don’t have a lidded cart, it certainly does help to think like the practical Yankee that we all know you are. If the weather outside is frightful:

  • Wait as long as you can before you set out your bin.
  • Move heavier, less-absorbent items, such as glass bottles and cardboard boxes, to the top to weigh down the lighter contents and shed moisture.
  • Tuck ’em in so they don’t catch the wind and you will have helped keep your neighborhood a little tidier—and ensure all those recyclables you worked so hard to keep out of the landfill actually make it to the recycling center!

Learn more

Want to know how it all happens? Check out our behind-the-scenes video on the process at our very own recycling facility.

Need a blue bin? They are available at all CSWD Drop-Off Centers, as well as Burlington Public Works (645 Pine St, Burlington).

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Clare has lived in Tennessee, New Mexico, California, Virginia, Connecticut, Texas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and, for the past 10 years, Vermont. She can be found peering into recycling bins everywhere to see what works and is frequently quizzed about recycling and composting in random places when people find out where she works. She spends as much time as possible playing ukulele and roaming through Vermont’s spectacular mountains and forests.