Back to top

Recycling in Boston

Last updated: 8/14/18

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

Upcoming events

Upcoming events

Recycling options

Use a small blue recycling bin

You can buy the bin from any major retailer. Please don’t overfill it, the City will fine you.

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.

Recycle with clear plastic bags

In a select group of neighborhoods, you can place your recycling on the curb in a clear plastic bag. You can buy the bags in these neighborhoods.

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.

What we can recycle

Materials we can recycle (curbside):

  • Newspapers (with inserts)
  • Magazines and Catalogues
  • Junk mail (remove free samples)
  • White and colored paper and brown bags
  • Telephone books
  • Paperback books
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Juice and soy milk boxes
  • Flattened food boxes
  • Flattened cardboard boxes (no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet; must be bundled and tied)
  • Glass bottles and jars (lids and labels are OK)
  • Tin and aluminum cans, foil, and pie plates (lids and labels are OK)
  • All plastic containers (Caps and lids included; no motor oil or chemical containers)
  • Cardboard and spiral cans (like potato chip, coffee, and nut cans)
  • Rigid plastics (such as laundry baskets, buckets, and toys)

Material we can't recycle (curbside):

  • Styrofoam - place with regular trash
  • Plastic bags - return to local retailer for recycling
  • Motor oil containers - Hazardous Waste Day
  • Chemical containers 
  • Ceramics or dishes

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