Food Scraps Composting Pilot:  Please take our brief, confidential survey to learn more and help our efforts!

More about food scraps composting in Town:

Bethlehem has a proud tradition of resident participation in our award-winning recycling programs. The Town achieved an excellent 66% residential recycling/composting (“waste diversion”) rate as of 2014!

We have led the way with household hazardous waste and electronics programs, our yard waste collection and composting program is unparalleled in the region, and most recently the Town has begun helping lead the state in clothing and textile reuse and recycling, including receiving an EPA award and State Senate Legislative Resolution.

Why Recycle?
Recycling is beneficial to our community, the environment and the economy. It’s also required by law for all businesses and residents. We have made good progress, but there is still a long way to go before reaching Town and State goals for recycling.

What to Recycle?
Certain items must be recycled by law, and there are a variety of other items that should be reused, recycled or composted. List of mandatory and other recyclables for all businesses and residents in the Town of Bethlehem.

How and Where to Recycle?

Single Stream Recycling

The private waste haulers in town now collect recyclable materials together in one single stream container (see slideshow about the single stream recycling facility). In addition to the standard recyclables, there are several more types of items that can now be accepted for recycling including:

  • Rigid plastics can now be recycled in single stream and (milk crates, buckets, flower pots, hard plastic toys, all-plastic parts from tools and household items, etc.).
  • All plastic containers clean of contaminants can be recycled (with a few exceptions, which include polystyrene/styrofoam, and very small items like straws, plastic utensils, etc.—these items are not recyclable with the single stream system)
  • Plastic store bags and plastic film (shrink wrap, dry cleaning bags, etc.) should be recycled at larger retail stores along with their store plastic bag recycling programs, not placed in your single stream container
  • Softcover and hardcover books can now be recycled along with all other types of paper and cardboard, including the lids from pizza boxes.
Please follow the hauler’s instruction sheet and/or sticker on the can lid about what materials can be placed in that bin and how that should occur.

Separated Materials

The Town’s Transfer Station remains a “dual stream” facility, where different categories of materials are separated by residents and businesses before recycling at the station. This allows for significantly less contamination than with single stream, and can provide valuable revenue for the town by material type.

  • Plastic containers (almost all types are now recycled - see the chart), glass bottles and jars, and metal cans are commingled together in one container
  • Mixed paper includes newspapers, magazines / catalogs, school and office paper
  • Corrugated cardboard (flattened), brown paper bags, and single layer boxes (“paperboard”) are recycled together.

Success Stories

Bethlehem’s Spring “Recycle Fest” a Successful Community Collaboration

Over 22 tons of material collected for reuse and recycling

Delmar, NY – The Town of Bethlehem’s “Spring Recycle Fest” on Saturday, April 9, 2016 saw 574 households participating and recycled a total of 44,780 lbs (or more than 22 tons), which averages out to roughly 5 lbs for every household in the entire Town. Over $1,000 in donations was also raised to support Bethlehem Central School District Environmental Programs and the Bethlehem Food Pantry.

The event was a collaboration between the Town of Bethlehem Highway, Recycling/Sanitation, and Senior Services Departments; Bethlehem Central School District Green Team; the Delmar Farmer's Market; Grassroot Givers; American Clothing Company; JGS Recycling; Cascade Recovery and 3N Document Destruction.
“We had over 40 community volunteers including middle and high school students from BCSD and representatives from event partners. This allowed us to save an amazing amount of valuable materials from the landfill in just three hours, with minimal Town costs,” said Town of Bethlehem Recycling Coordinator Dan Lilkas-Rain.
Recycle Fest 2016 Volunteers
“I’d like to thank these volunteers and each of our partner organizations, the residents who helped celebrate Earth Day (a bit early) by participating, and Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith and Director of Senior Services Jane Sanders for their support of this collaborative event,” Lilkas-Rain added.
Recycle Fest 2016 - Textiles
Proceeds from the clothing/textile collection portion will help fund the Bethlehem Central School District’s Green Team initiatives. According to Green Team leader Mark Warford, “The Green Team looks to do our part in decreasing our footprint on the planet.  We are also very excited to launch several ambitious new projects this spring. New recycling stations are being placed in all cafeterias across the district and will make it significantly easier for students to separate their waste.  Part of this initiative is the introduction of food waste composting in all school cafeterias!  Food scrap materials will be collected by the Empire Zero hauling company for composting.  The school
district hopes to join local residents in food scrap composting right at the Town’s Compost Facility, when their planned pilot program is finalized and under way in the fall. Another big step for the Green Team is the introduction of metal flatware in all cafeterias. The goal is to eliminate the disposal of thousands of plastic forks and spoons each week. Vermicomposting bins will also be set up in all 2nd grade classrooms and the middle school. The best part is all these initiatives are rolling out on Monday the 18th during Earth Week!”

Individual categories of materials collected at the event include clothing, textiles and footwear: 5,293 lbs collected for reuse and recycling (wearable clothing will be re-worn; non-wearable clothing/non-reusable textiles will be cut into wiping rags or shredded into fiber for use as auto sound insulation, carpet padding, stuffing, etc.).

Residents can continue to donate clothing, footwear and other textiles for reuse or recycling throughout the year (such as linens, stuffed animals, loose fabric, backpacks, and even ripped, stained or damaged items like missing buttons or a broken zipper—as long as they are not wet or contaminated) with the American Clothing company in their blue collection bins throughout Town, including the bins at the Elm Ave CDTA Park and Ride, the Kenwood Avenue Municipal Parking Lot near Four Corners (between Hughes Opticians and Applebee Funeral Home), and the Town’s Rupert Rd Transfer Station. Proceeds from these locations benefit the Town.

Books: In addition to the 5,480 lbs of books and cardboard gathered for recycling by Cascade Recovery, Grassroot Givers sorted out books with reuse value, and filled two cars with boxes of high quality titles. Residents are instructed that they can continue to recycle books, mixed paper and cardboard throughout the year at the Cascade Recovery dumpsters at the Elm Ave CDTA Park and Ride, as well as the newer location at the back of the Town Municipal Parking lot on Kenwood Avenue mentioned above.
Recycle Fest 2016 - Books
Shredded documents for recycling: About 9,600 lbs of secure shredding was done on-site by 3N Document Destruction of Clifton Park. This material is baled and sent to a paper mill for recycling back into paper products, according to 3N co-owner Dave Neville.

Electronics, appliances and scrap metal: 24,407 lbs were collected for recycling by JGS Recycling of Waterford. Residents can continue to recycle electronics (for FREE), and appliances and scrap metal items for a fee throughout the year at the Town’s Rupert Rd Transfer Station.

The textile collection portion of the event is part of “Re-Clothe NY,” a statewide campaign to promote clothing and textile recycling. Visit for details.

For more information about Town of Bethlehem recycling visit or contact Dan Rain, Recycling Coordinator: email or call 439-4955 ext. 1510.  For BCSD Green Team details visit


Bethlehem Shares in U.S. EPA’s Highest Recognition:
2015 Environmental Champion Award

Delmar, NY – The Town of Bethlehem had a special reason to celebrate Earth Day this year. Bethlehem’s Recycling Coordinator, Dan Rain, accepted a 2015 U.S. EPA Environmental Champion award at a ceremony on Friday, April 24. The award is being presented to the New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3) for the statewide “Re-Clothe NY” clothing and textile recycling campaign, and Rain will be accepting the award as campaign chairman.

The Environmental Champion Awards are the “highest recognition presented to the public by EPA,” and given in recognition of “those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health,” according to a letter of congratulations sent by EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck.

“Re-Clothe NY” is a collaboration between the New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3), Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), and the Council for Textile Recycling (CTR). The initial launch collected more than 100,000 pounds of textiles in municipalities across New York on America Recycles Day in November 2014—the number continues to increase as special events and local efforts continue through Earth Day and beyond.

The Town of Bethlehem has been one of the most actively participating municipalities in the Re-Clothe NY campaign. For example, the Town has directly collected over 54,900 lbs of textiles since the campaign launched, at two events and ongoing collection bins.

 “The partnership between NYSAR3, SMART and CTR is an effective model of how the public and private sectors, along with not-for-profit entities, can collaborate to create statewide change,” said Jim Gilbert, NYSAR3 president. “As a result of ‘Re-Clothe NY,’ residents throughout New York have a heightened awareness of the need to keep textiles out of the trash in order to support jobs and minimize disposal impacts. This EPA Environmental Champion Award recognizes the environmental leadership of NYSAR3 members across the state and celebrates their daily efforts to help residents, schools and businesses in their local communities reduce waste and conserve precious natural resources.”

The campaign produced an innovative set of public communication tools, including a website with a searchable database of textile drop off locations, a media relations tool kit, and social media platforms. Recycling coordinators from across the state are using these tools to educate local residents about their role in preventing over one billion pounds of post-consumer textile materials, with a market value of over $200 million, from ending up in the trash each year. This unprecedented campaign generated statewide awareness of the need to recycle textiles, with traditional and digital media attention reaching more than 4,000 media outlets.

“We believe this collaboration with NYSAR3 and CTR has produced a template that can be used by any state in the country seeking to launch an effort to raise awareness about textile reuse and recovery,” said Jackie King, SMART executive director. “No other state in the nation has yet undertaken such an extensive campaign to focus on this material and develop resources to provide a turn-key template for any state, municipality or town to raise awareness and increase diversion of this valuable and untapped reuse and recycling resource. We strongly urge other states to take a look and use this effort as a model for the nation.”

According to NYSAR3, each year, New York residents dispose approximately 1.4 billion pounds of recoverable clothes and textiles, with an estimated market value of over $200 million. In Albany County alone, an estimated 21 million pounds of clothes and textiles, with an approximate market value of $3.27 million are trashed every year.

For more information about statewide textile recycling, visit For Town of Bethlehem specific information, visit or contact Dan Rain, Recycling Coordinator: email or call 439-4955 ext. 1510. 

(Photo by Kristen Lilkas)

Dan Rain with U.S. EPA Award
“The EPA Award is a big honor for the Re-Clothe NY campaign, including all the municipalities that have participated, and our campaign partners from the private and not-for-profit sector. I’m proud to be a part of the team that’s helping raise awareness statewide about keeping clothing and other valuable textiles out of the trash,” said Dan Rain. “I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues at NYSAR3, at the Town of Bethlehem including my supervisor, Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith and Town Supervisor John Clarkson, and last but not least, my family,” Rain added.