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Recycling in Boston

Boston provides mixed curb-side recycling pickup services for residents. Use this page to learn what goes in the recycling, what acceptable recycling containers are, and more. 

If we recycle right, we can reduce waste by 40 percent in Boston. Learn more about recycling in Boston below.

Have questions? Contact:

PUBLIC WORKS
1 city hall square, room 714
boston, ma 02201

Search Recycling

You can search what's recyclable in Boston by using our recycling search tool. When in doubt, search it! 

Search Recycling

Recycle Right: Know what you can recycle

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Pizza boxes

Remove food, pizza savers (pizza tables), and liners

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BOOKS

Paperback and telephone books

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SPIRAL CANS

This includes potato chips and coffee cans

Plastic bottles

PLASTIC

All containers, including food, soda, water bottles, and jars.

Glass bottle

GLASS

Jars and bottles

Cardboard box

CARDBOARD

Flattened cardboard boxes (no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet; must be bundled and tied)

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PAPER

Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, white and colored paper

Can icon

CANS

Aluminum and tin cans

Boxboard

BOXBOARD

Includes paper bags, egg cartons, and rolls

Recycle Right: Know what you can't recycle

Non-recyclables

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Medical waste

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single-use ITEMS

For example, Styrofoam, napkins, paper towels, tissues, straws, and coffee pods.

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plastic bags

Plastic grocery bags and plastic garbage bags cannot be recycled, and should not be put in your curbside recycling bin. You can return clean plastic bags to a participating retailer for recycling.

Yard waste

Yard waste

Food waste

Food waste
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ELECTRONICS

This includes batteries and light bulbs. We host electronic recycling drop-off events during the year for City of Boston residents.

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PLASTIC wraps

This includes film and tarps.

 

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Containers for chemicals and motor oil

We hold household hazardous waste drop-off days for Boston residents four times a year.

Drink and food boxes

DRINK AND FOOD BOXES

Juice, milk, and frozen food boxes

Ceramics

CERAMICS

Pots, pans, and glass

Tanglers

TANGLERS

No hoses, wires, or chains

Clothes

CLOTHES

Including shoes and stuffed animals

Recycling Containers

Containers
Use a large recycling cart
Use a large recycling cart

If you live in a building with six units or less,  you can request a free large blue recycling cart from the City. You can request a cart through BOS:311:

Request a cart

 

Trash can
Convert trash can into recycling bin

You can turn a trash can into a recycling bin with a sticker from 311. The bin should be smaller than 32 gallons and needs a sticker.

Request a sticker

Plastic bag
No plastic bags

Do not put recyclables in plastic grocery bags. Heavy-duty clear plastic bags are only allowed if you do not have enough space for a blue wheeled cart in the following neighborhoods: Back Bay / Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown and Downtown, East Boston, Fenway, Mission Hill, North End, Roxbury, South Boston, South End, and West End.

Trash and recycling app

Search how to recycle right on your phone.

With our free Trash Day app you can search a directory of hundreds of household items to find out if they're recyclable. You can also view a calendar for your home's collection dates, set reminders, and get notifications of schedule changes. 

Large residential buildings

We offer recycling to residents in buildings with seven or more units.

Ask your property manager, landlord, or condo trustees to call 311 and work out a recycling program for the building. Your building manager will give you a written notice about a new program.

Your building manager needs to buy recycling containers known as carts that range in size from 64 to 96 gallons. You can mix paper, bottles, cans, and plastic containers in the carts.

If you are a business interested in recycling for buildings with seven units or more, you need to contact bigbuildingrecycling@cityofboston.gov.