Dot Kelly started off her single-stream recycling presentation with a joke at Monday night's RTM meeting.

"One challenge is: How do you get people to know what they're supposed to do? Have you heard the one about the bin at the recycling center that said, `Empty water bottles here?' Pretty soon the bin was full of water," Kelly intoned to applause. "Appropriate signage is going to be important," she concluded.

Kelly, a member of the newly formed Transfer Station Advisory Committee, explained the benefits and challenges of the single-stream recycling program the town adopted in May 2012.

With single-stream, all recycling can be mixed together, but there are some rules that must be followed for the program to run cleanly.

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One rule requires that the recycling be loose. If it's in a plastic bag, the handlers who sort the recycling must slit it open. In some places, like Bridgeport, sanitation workers will simply not take recycling that remains bagged.

Another rule is that recycling must be clean of food for fear of rodents. Kelly said if there is cheese in pizza boxes and peanut butter left in jars, those items are better off thrown in the garbage.

Single-stream recycling helps reduce the cost of waste disposal to the tune of about $100 per ton, according to Kelly.

"Increasing single-stream volume will help reduce our subsidy of the transfer station because we get a small stipend for single-stream and there will be less volume for burning," she said. "So it's both a financial and an environmental benefit."

At the conclusion of the presentation, RTM moderator Sarah Seelye added a reminder that single-stream recycling is not merely optional.

"This is not just a suggestion, this is the way it is," she said.; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews