Orange Trash Truck

Trash Collection

Public Works

New trash carts are coming in June 6-24!

The Department of Public Works (DPW) will deliver standard trash carts to all buildings where we collect trash. Beginning June 27, 2022, DPW will only empty the standard trash carts provided by the city. In mid-April, residents should expect a postcard from the City with information about this change. 

  • See the default size and number of carts for your building here
  • To change the number or size of your carts, visit hereDeadline: May 17 

Scroll down to the FAQ section for:

  • What to do with your old barrels 
  • How the carts will combat rodents
  • When there will be “Sneak Peeks” of the new trash carts
  • And more

DPW will have a second virtual community meeting to learn about the new trash carts on Tuesday, May 10th at 6PM.  Register here.

You may also view the presentation now and submit questions in advance of the meeting to



For information on how to dispose of waste and to use the Get Rid of It Right search tool, visit the main curbside collections page: CambridgeMA.Gov/Recycle.

Public Works has two compliance officers who check the collection routes on a daily basis to ensure compliance with the Refuse and Litter Ordinance

Tips and FAQs

Do I have to use the city-issued trash cart?

After June 27th we will only empty city-issued carts. 

What do I do with my old trash barrels?

Use it for Yard Waste.

  • Trash barrels that are 45 gallons or less can be used for yard waste collection by adding a yard waste sticker. Request a sticker here.
  • Your trash barrel may have its size stamped on it. Most residents’ trash barrels are 45-50 gallons.

Recycle it – Leave your old empty barrel at the curb during the dates below. DPW will collect and recycle them for you

If your trash is picked up on:

  • Monday, your old barrels will be collected on Wednesday 6/22 - Thursday 6/23
  • Tuesday, your old barrels will be collected on Wednesday 6/15 - Thursday 6/16.
  • Wednesday, your old barrels will be collected on Friday 6/24 - Saturday 6/25.
  • Thursday, your old barrels will be collected on Friday 6/17 - Saturday 6/18.
  • Friday, your old barrels will be collected on Saturday 6/11 - Monday 6/13.

To view as a calendar, click here.

Donate it - consider giving your GOOD CONDITION bin away to a local building materials donation location or on exchange websites or social media. 


When can I see the new trash carts?

Trash Cart Sneak Peeks:

  • Monday, 5/2, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the O'Connell Library Branch, 48 Sixth St.

  • Monday, 5/2, 5:30-7:00 p.m.  at the Valente Library Branch, 826 Cambridge St.

  • Tuesday, 5/3, 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Central Square Library Branch, 45 Pearl St.

  • Wednesday, 5/4 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Boudreau Library Branch, 245 Concord Ave.

  • Thursday, 5/5 3:00-5:00 p.m. Collins Library Branch, 64 Aberdeen Ave.

  • Friday, 5/6 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the O'Neill Library Branch, 70 Rindge Ave.

  • Saturday, 5/7 9:00a.m.-1:00 p.m. Finished Compost Giveaway, Squirrel Brand Park 268 Broadway

  • Saturday, 5/14 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Main Library, 449 Broadway


I don’t have space for the new carts.

If you are concerned about having space to store your new cart(s), you could

  • Request our smallest cart (35-gallons):

  • Height: 38 inches

  • Width: 20 inches

  • Depth: 25 inches

  • Share with a neighbor and request a bigger cart for their property.

What size cart will I get?

See this PDF for the default size and number of carts based on building size. 

What sizes are the carts?

We are delivering two default cart sizes:

 65-gallon carts:This is a similar size as the smaller blue recycling cart. (The size used at one or two-unit buildings.)

  • Height: 43 inches

  • Width: 26 inches 

  • Depth: 30 inches

45-gallon carts: Most trash barrels at the curb now are about 45 to 50 gallons. 

  • Height: 40 inches

  • Width: 23 inches

  • Depth: 28 inches


You can also request a smaller cart:

35-gallon carts: This is a similar size to the large green compost carts with the grey locks.

  • Height: 38 inches

  • Width: 20 inches

  • Depth: 25 inches


The width and depth measurements include the wheels of the cart.

Will these carts be big enough? How did the City decide how many carts to provide?

Based on data from two city audits of curbside trash volume per household, this will provide a generous amount of space. 

To make more space in your trash cart:

Why will Cambridge use standard city-issued trash carts beginning June 2022?

The goal of the Standard Trash Cart program is to improve: 

  • Rodent control and public health. The new carts will reduce easy access to food for rodents.

  • Worker Safety. The trucks can mechanically lift and empty the new carts. This will reduce lifting impacts on DPW staff.

  • Sidewalk accessibility. Lids are attached to the cart and will not fall on the sidewalk. Larger buildings will need fewer carts because their carts will be bigger (65 gallons instead of 50 gallons). This leads to fewer sidewalk obstructions.

How do new trash carts help prevent and control rodents?

To reduce rodents, we need to remove easy access to food in our trash. A rat can survive on one ounce of food a day.

The new carts will reduce easy access to food for rodents by

  • Removing old trash barrels with holes.  About 45% of residential trash bins had holes due to rodents. 

  • Being made of thicker plastic that barrels bought at hardware stores.


The free Curbside Compost program is one of the best ways to combat rodents. Compost carts were made to be rodent resistant with

  • Thick plastic and

  • Locks or latches to secure food waste.


For more on rodent prevention and control visit CambridgeMA.Gov/Rodents.

When will I get the new carts?

This is the current plan for when the new trash carts will arrive. Delivery dates may change slightly due to unforeseen issues. 

If your trash is picked up on:

  • Monday, your carts will arrive between Thursday 6/16 and Saturday 6/18

  • Tuesday, your carts will arrive between Thursday 6/9 and Saturday 6/11

  • Wednesday, your carts will arrive between Tuesday 6/21 and Thursday 6/23

  • Thursday, your carts will arrive between Monday 6/13 and Wednesday 6/15

  • Friday, your carts will arrive between Monday 6/6 and Wednesday 6/8

For a calendar view click here

Will bags be accepted for trash collection?

Bags are strongly discouraged.

We need everyone help reduce rodents by using the carts. Carts also improve worker safety.

No thin grocery or kitchen bags allowed. Bags must be heavy duty at least 3 mils thick (e.g., contractor bags). Bags cannot exceed 50 gallons or 50 pounds. Trash bags may only be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on the day of collection, not the night before.

What will remain the same after the switch to trash carts?

Barrels may be placed at the curb after 6PM the night before collection or by 7AM on collection day. Barrels must be removed from the curb by 6PM on the day of collections.

Public Works Managers will continue to work with rubbish workers to ensure that trash carts are put back in front of the property where they were set out.

Public Works has two compliance officers who check the collection routes daily to ensure compliance with the Refuse and Litter Ordinance.  

My Compost/Recycling/Trash/Yard Waste was not picked up on my regular collection day

All waste must be set out by 7AM on your collection day, or after 6PM the night before. If you think any waste collection was missed, please report it at CambridgeMA.Gov/311 (preferred) or leave a voicemail at 617-349-4800. Leave materials at the curb and pickup will be done by the end of the next collection day.

How do I apply for a disability-related exemption to the 6PM receptacle removal requirement?

Please contact:

Commission for Persons with Disabilities 
51 Inman St., Second Floor
Kate Thurman
617-349-4692 (voice)
617-492-0235 (TTY)

Page was posted on 11/14/2019 2:03 PM
Page was last modified on 5/6/2022 8:51 AM
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