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Zero waste tips during COVID-19


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Let's continue to work together to keep our city clean, reduce emissions, and work towards a Zero Waste Boston.

COVID-19 has changed our habits of disposing, reducing, and reusing materials. In order to take the proper precautions to keep yourself, your family, customers, and our community safe, our day-to-day materials and how we dispose of them has drastically changed over the past year. 

Many people use single-use masks and gloves, more packages are being delivered to homes, and take-out has increased as we continue to support our local and small businesses. 

Approximately six percent of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the City’s discarded materials. The Zero Waste Boston initiative moves Boston towards zero-waste and helps lower carbon emissions with expanded composting options and increased access to recycling opportunities across the city.

Here are some tips on how Bostonians can remain safe and healthy, while also keeping our communities and environment clean.

At home tips

Recycle Right

You can reduce your trash by nearly 36% when you recycle. Check out what you can and cannot recycle.


Cardboard boxes

Be sure to remove any tape, fold or break down the box, and bundle them together so it is easy to pick-up. 


Recycle your textiles

Did you know that about seven percent of trash in the United States is textiles? Textiles include clothing like  pants, coats, hats, and suits and household cloth items like dish towels, bedding, curtains, and more.

Drop off your textiles at one of our 14 neighborhood locations.

Extra or Leftover food tips

Compost your leftover food

Utilize our five Project Oscar public compost locations, Boston’s 24-hour community compost pilot program. 

Donate your food safely

Check out the Community Fridges Toolkit. Join the community-led effort to help meet the growing food needs in their communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-existing gaps in food security.

Tips for masks, gloves, and other PPE

  1. Proper disposal is important. Don’t litter! Wait until you can throw waste in a trash can. 
  2. Invest in a reusable mask. Go to your neighborhood small businesses or Main Streets district to purchase one or make your own!

Tips for takeout

  1. Black plastic and styrofoam is not recyclable
  2. Gently rinse your takeout container and place in recycling
  3. Use your home utensils
  4. Recycle or reuse paper bags
  5. See our resource guide

Tips for businesses

Tips for businesses
Purchase reusable masks

We are making sure all small businesses can access the required personal protective gear and cleaning supplies needed to safely and responsibly operate.

Recycling assistance

RecyclingWorks MA can help you identify best practices for your business's trash and recycling services during COVID-19.

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Food waste resources

RecyclingWorks MA is here to help businesses reduce waste during a time when the industry is experiencing thinner margins and altered operations.

Reducing plastic bag use

The Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance is in effect. Bring your own reusable bags when shopping to reduce litter and save money. 

Read more tips for retailers and customers.

We want to make sure you have all the information you need to easily recycle and cut down on your waste. We are all working together to keep Bostonians as safe as possible from COVID-19. Let’s remember to work together to keep our city clean too.

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