Recycling in Boston
You have a few different options if you want to recycle:
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. The can can’t be bigger than 32 gallons and needs a lid.
You can 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.
Recycle with clear plastic bags
In most neighborhoods, you can place your recycling on the curb in a clear plastic bag. You can buy the bags in these neighborhoods.
You can 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.
Materials we can recycle
MATERIALS WE CAN RECYCLE
- Newspapers (with inserts)
- Magazines and Catalogues
- Junk mail (remove free samples)
- White and colored paper and brown bags
- Telephone books
- Flattened food boxes
- Paperback books
- Milk and juice cartons
- Juice and soy milk boxes
- Flattened cardboard boxes (no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet)
- Empty pizza boxes
- 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)
MATERIALS WE Cannot RECYCLE
- Plastic bags
- Motor oil containers
- Chemical containers
- Ceramics or dishes
- Light bulbs
- Window glass and mirrors
- Yard waste
- Food waste
- Computer monitors
Large residential buildings
We offer free recycling to residents in buildings with seven units or fewer. 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 32 to 68 gallons. You can mix paper, bottles, cans, and plastic containers in the carts.
If you are a business interested in recycling, you need to contact your trash haulers. Learn more about commercial recycling