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Last updated: 6/19/19

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.

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

Search Recycling

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

Recycle Right: Know what you can recycle

Pizza boxes
Pizza boxes

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

Books
BOOKS

Paperback and telephone books

Spiral cans
SPIRAL CANS

This includes potato chips and coffee cans

Plastic bottles
PLASTIC

All containers, 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

Recycle Right: Know what you can't recycle

Plastic bags

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. 

Medical waste
Medical waste

Disposable items
single-use ITEMS

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

Electronics
ELECTRONICS

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

Plastic wrap
PLASTIC wraps

This includes film and tarps.

Containers for chemicals and motor oil
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

No tanglers
Tanglers

No hoses, wires, or chains

Clothes
CLOTHES

Including shoes and stuffed animals

Non-recyclables

Recycling Containers

Containers
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

convert trash bin to recycling bin
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

no plastic bags
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.

Recycling events

Recycling events
Boston Hazardous Waste Drop Off
Jun 29

Household hazardous waste drop-off

Paint and motor oil dropoff
Jul 13

Paint and motor oil drop-off

Boston Hazardous Waste Drop Off
Jul 20

Household hazardous waste drop-off

Paint and motor oil dropoff
Aug 10

Paint and motor oil drop-off

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.