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Last updated: 9/28/18

Recycling in Boston

You can mix recyclable materials together and place them on the curb outside of your home on your recycling day.

You have different options if you want to recycle. You can learn about those options below.

Still have questions? Contact:
Public Works
1 City Hall Square
Room 714
Boston, MA 02201-2024
United States

Recycling options

Convert a trash can into a recycling bin

You can turn a trash can into a recycling bin with a sticker from 311. You can also pick up a sticker through the City Hall to Go truck. The can can’t be bigger than 32 gallons and needs a lid.

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 need to make your request in the spring, and we only allow one cart per building. You can request a cart through BOS:311.

recycle paint and motor oil

From May through August, Public Works hosts swap shops for surplus paint products and dropoffs for used motor oil. It’s only open to Boston residents. Learn more about the paint swaps and motor oil dropoffs.

Please note: you can throw out latex and acrylic paint on your regular trash day. You need to make sure that the paint is completely dry inside the container before you throw it out.

Recycling with clear plastic bags

Recycling with clear plastic bags

You can recycle using a clear plastic bag if you live in these neighborhoods:

If you don't live in one of the neighborhoods listed on this page, please use a big blue recycling cart. You can request a cart through BOS:311.

Neighborhood Retailer Street address
Back Bay Deluca's Market 239 Newbury Street
Back Bay Marlboro Market 45 Massachusetts Ave
Back Bay Shaw's Supermarket 53 Huntington Ave
Beacon Hill Beacon Hill Market 55 Anderson Street
Beacon Hill Deluca's Market 11 Charles Street
Beacon Hill Roche Brothers 10 Summer Street
Beacon Hill Whole Foods 181 Cambridge Street
Charlestown Charlestown Ace Hardware 5 Austin Street
Charlestown Whole Foods 50 Austin Street
East Boston Walgreens 1 Central Square
East Boston Shaw's Supermarket 246 Border Street
Mission Hill Boston Building Resources 100 Terrace Street
North End Green Cross Pharmacy 393 Hanover Street
South Boston Rite Aid 710 East Broadway
South Boston Stop and Shop 713 East Broadway
South End Foodie's Boston 1421 Washington Street
South End Food Emporium 465 Columbus Ave
South End Walgreens 1603 Washington Street
Symphony Area Economy True Value Hardware 219 Massachusetts Ave
Symphony Area Whole Foods Symphony 15 Westland Ave
West End Whole Foods 181 Cambridge Street

If your local retailer doesn't carry the bags we recommend using, please use 15 to 30 gallon clear plastic bags with a minimum thickness of 0.85 millimeters. They must be clear plastic bags.

If you don't live in one of the neighborhoods listed on this page, please use a big blue recycling cart. You can request a cart through BOS:311.

Upcoming events

Upcoming events

Items you can recycle

Drink and food boxes
DRINK AND FOOD BOXES

Juice, milk, cereal, and frozen food boxes (must be empty and flattened)

Books
BOOKS

Paperback and telephone books

Spiral cans
SPIRAL CANS

This includes potato chips and coffee cans

Plastic bottles
PLASTIC

All containers (#1 - #7) including food, soda, water bottles,and jars

Glass bottles
GLASS

Jars and bottles

Cardboard box
CARDBOARD

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

Paper
PAPER

Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, white and colored paper

Cans
CANS

Aluminum and tin cans

Boxboard
BOXBOARD

Paper bags, egg cartons, rolls

Items you can't recycle

Medical waste
MEDICAL WASTE
Food waste
FOOD WASTE
Metal
METAL

Including scrap metal

Disposable items
DISPOSABLE ITEMS

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

Electronics
ELECTRONICS

This includes batteries and lightbulbs. We host electronic recycling dropoff events during the year for City of Boston residents.

Ceramics
CERAMICS

Pots, pans, and glass

Plastic bags
PLASTIC BAGS

Return to nearest retail location for recycling

Clothes
CLOTHES

Including shoes and stuffed animals

No tanglers
Tanglers

No hoses, wires, or chains

Yard waste
YARD WASTE

We pick up leaf and yard waste from April to December on scheduled days.

Containers for chemicals and motor oil
Containers for chemicals and motor oil

We hold household hazardous waste dropoff days for Boston residents four times a year.

Plastic wrap
PLASTIC wraps

This includes film and tarps.

Trash and recycling app

Never miss yard waste collection again.

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

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.