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Cambridge hosts up to 90 outdoor events annually, from picnics to full blown festivals. At large festivals, Public Works' staff and volunteers educate people and monitor recycling.  Public Works' policy is that trash and recycling are side by side at festivals. Bottles and cans collected are brought to the Recycling Center.

Volunteering for recycling at festivals is fun because you can enjoy the festival, make sure that recycling is happening and talk to people about doing the right thing. It involves staffing the information tables, talking to people, walking around the festival area checking for the proper setup , and minimizing the amount of bottles in the trash and trash in the recycling.

If you would like to volunteer at one of the festivals, get in touch with us!  We are always looking for help.  Some of the annual Cambridge festivals include:

Riverfest, Taste of Cambridge

Area Four Community Pride Day, Cambridge Carnival, Danehy Park Day, Urban Ag Fair


Family Fun Day

Requirements for Festival Coordinators (printer friendly version)
Before the Event:
1.  Notify Public Works' Special Events Committee of the estimated quantity and type of beverage containers to be served. Vendors cannot sell beverages in glass containers due to safety and waste handling concerns.

2.  Notify your vendors about recycling requirements. At large festivals, cardboard dumpsters may be provided. Vendors must recycle clean cardboard that is not contaminated with food waste.

3.  Events with cardboard dumpsters: flatten and place inside cardboard dumpster.

4.  For large events with many vendors, notify your vendors that all cashiers will be required to wear a button that says “Recycle your bottles & cans” to remind customers to do their part. DPW staff will distribute buttons at the beginning of the festival and collect them at the end.

5.  Distribute the “Tips for Vendors to Reduce Waste” flyer to your vendors.

6.  Educate workforce and your volunteers about recycling requirements.

7.  Promote recycling on your event flyer. Sample text: “Help make this an earth friendly event. Recycle.” If possible, include recycling logo, email rmail@cambridgema.gov for it.

At the Event:
Ensure that recycling and trash are side-by-side, especially near food vendors and high traffic areas.

Educate festival attendees about recycling by making announcements. If there is a sound system, recycling must be encouraged at least once every hour to attendees. Sample announcement: “Attention festival goers! Please recycle your empty bottles and cans. Thank you for doing your part to reduce waste and recycle more in Cambridge!”

Vendor Requirements and Tips: (printer-friendly version)
Remind customers to recycle their bottles and cans.
The City will set up the trash and recycling containers side by side. Vendors selling bottles and cans should post flyers and wear buttons (provided by the City) reminding customers to recycle.

Events with cardboard dumpsters.
Large events will be provided with a special dumpster for clean cardboard. Cardboard must be recycled and cannot be contaminated with food waste. Flatten and place inside cardboard dumpster.

Do not sell beverages in glass containers.
Use of glass containers is not allowed. This is due to safety and waste handling concerns.

Packaging Waste:
1.  Sell food & drinks in recyclable containers. Glass is not allowed.

2.  Offer refills at a discount. To avoid health risks, use beverage dispensers that do not touch the lip of the cup.

3.  Loan out pitchers. Rent or buy pitchers and charge a deposit. When they are returned, refund the deposit.

4.  Minimize disposable items. Use refillable condiment dispensers instead of small packets. Do not offer straws or lids. Store napkins behind the counter and offer a few per customer.

5.  Buy in bulk. This avoids wasteful individually wrapped items and saves you money.

Food Waste:
Offer several portion sizes. Customers can order the amount that they are able to eat. This prevents food waste.

Store ingredients or prepared items in a manner that will allow extras to be kept for future use. Use perishable items before they expire.

Save food waste for composting.

Keep records and use data from this year’s event to estimate how much food to bring next year.

Don’t trash those leftovers! Prevent food waste by donating any leftover food you may have. Call these organizations in the Boston area that accept food donations:
     The First Parish, 617-876-7772, www.firstparishcambridge.org
     Bread and Jams, 617-497-9200,  ( Now Closed) www.breadandjams.org
     Food Not Bombs, 617-522-8277, www.foodnotbombs.net
     Rosie’s Place, 617-442-9322, www.rosies.org

Buy green products. Use products with “post-consumer recycled content”. These products support the recycling industry and make recycling possible.

Use reusable items such as cloth towels or sponges to clean up behind the counter. Share rarely used items with neighboring vendors.

Buy non-toxic cleaners and biodegradable cleaners, which are best for the environment. Buying them in concentrate reduces packaging waste.

Sell organic foods. They are in high demand and reduce health and environmental problems from pesticides.

Be creative about reducing waste. Implement your own ideas and be an example to fellow vendors!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139


Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Recycling Center Hours
Tuesday & Thursday: 4:00pm-7:30pm
Saturday: 9:00am-4:00pm

Ms. Randi Mail
Director of Recycling