Back to top
Last updated: 9/20/19

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.

Have questions? Contact:

1 city hall square, room 714
boston, ma 02201

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


Paperback and telephone books

Spiral cans

This includes potato chips and coffee cans

Plastic bottles

All containers, including food, soda, water bottles, and jars

Glass bottles

Jars and bottles

Cardboard box

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


Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, white and colored paper


Aluminum and tin cans


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.


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

Plastic wrap

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

No hoses, wires, or chains


Including shoes and stuffed animals


Recycling 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

There are no upcoming events available at this time.

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