Cambridge Teams up with MassDEP on “Recycle Right” Campaign


Recycle More, Trash Less

Recently, the recycling industry has faced pressure due to increased contamination in recycling. While residents have the best intentions when trying to divert their waste, products and packaging have become more complex, leading to confusion about what belongs in the curbside recycling cart. This increase in non-recyclables has led to higher rates of contamination in our recycling stream, so to help clarify what can be recycled, the City of Cambridge is joining with MassDEP (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection) as part of their “Recycle Right” campaign. This campaign is a state-wide effort, focused on getting the correct items into curbside recycling and reducing contamination.

“The most common items we find in curbside recycling that don’t belong are plastic bags and film, plastic and wire hangers, clothing and textiles, and electronics,” said Cambridge Public Works Commissioner Owen O’Riordan. “There are ways to divert each of these materials from the landfill, but curbside recycling is not the correct way. Putting these items in your curbside recycling toter results in costly issues at our contractor’s facility.”   


Earlier this spring, the Department of Public Works (DPW) launched the “Zero Waste Cambridge” app, which includes a search feature to look up how to properly dispose of thousands of items. The app is available for free download in the iTunes and Google Play store, and is also available on DPW’s website at CambridgeMA.Gov/Recycle. If you’re unsure if something can be recycled, check out this helpful tool, but when in doubt, please leave it out.


The City of Cambridge is committed to reducing waste. Curbside recycling began in 1991 and since then Cambridge residents have diverted millions of pounds of recyclables from landfills. To help continue to educate residents about what should and should not be placed in curbside recycling, members of the Public Works Department will be more closely monitoring curbside recycling carts. If DPW finds contamination, we’ll leave a note on your recycling toter about what was incorrect. We will follow up with a postcard with information on Recycle Right. There will be minimal to no impact on curbside services during the campaign.

Check out our video to make sure you're putting the correct items into your recycling toter!

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139


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Owen O'Riordan