Curbside Recycling

Find the answers to your questions about the residential curbside recycling program.  Be sure to check out our Get Rid of it Right page, with details on how to recycle, donate or dispose of just about anything.

Why was my recycling not picked up?

Recycling and yard waste must be set out by 7am on your collection day, or after 6pm the night before.

If your recycling was missed, please report it by 12 noon the following day. You may use Commonwealth Connect or call 617-349-4800.  We will need to know your address, daytime phone number and a quick description (ex. 3 bags yard waste, 2 toters, 1 blue bin).

The recycling trucks go back for missed recycling after they have completed their regular route. 


Why is there an orange sticker on my recycling?

Please avoid these common problems to ensure pickup of your recycling or yard waste:

  • No Plastic Bags for Recycling
    The recycling processing plant does not accept plastic bags because they jam the equipment and cause damage. Most plastic bags (#2) can be brought to your local grocery store for recycling and also to the Recycling Drop-Off Center.

  • No Plastic Bags for Yard Waste
    Plastic bags will not decompose with your leaf and yard waste. Please note that rubbish or recycling crews will not pick up yard waste in plastic bags. Click here for proper yard waste preparation instructions.

  • Dirty (Contaminated) Recyclables
    Containers that are not rinsed out and paper/cardboard with food waste can contaminate the rest of the truckload and result in additional processing costs.

  • No Dirt, Rocks or Large Tree Limbs for Yard Waste
    You must call a private hauler for these materials.

  • Heavy Barrel or Bag of Yard Waste
    Our drivers cannot lift heavy barrels or bags of yard waste. Usually heavy yard waste set-outs contain large amounts of wet leaves, excessive amounts of soil on roots, and so forth. Please divide this material into two bags or barrels and put it out for collection on your next collection day.

What kinds of paper can I recycle?

What kinds of containers can I recycle?

How can I get a recycling "toter" on wheels?

Recycling Toters
Toters are available to all residential buildings, city buildings and houses of worship.  Click here to request a toter.

Convert a Trash Barrel
Did you know that similar to the yard waste program, residents can convert any 32-gallon barrel for recycling?  Click here to request a sticker, or call 617-349-4800.  Just face the sticker to the street when using for recycling.

When is yard waste collection and what is accepted?

Separate yard waste begins the first FULL week in April and continues through the second FULL week in December.  Place yard waste at the curb by 7am on your collection day, or after 6pm the day before.

Remember that yard waste is not accepted in plastic bags.   Yard waste is banned from landfills and incinerators in Massachusetts. All yard waste collected goes to a local composting facility.

Place yard waste in paper refuse bags or barrels labeled with yard waste stickers.  Call 617.349.4800 for stickers. 

Materials accepted: 
Leaves, grass, plants and shrub prunings and twigs no more than 1 inch in diameter or 3 feet in length.  We will collect up to 3 bundles of thick limbs no more than 3 feet by 3 feet. 

Materials not accepted:
No dirt, food, sand, soil, rocks, tree stumps, or trash.

Can I recycle lids and caps? Will they be recycled?

Please ensure that you empty and rinse containers first.  You may leave lids and caps on the containers.  The metal lids on glass jars will pop off when the glass breaks during the collection or sorting process.  If you place caps and lids loose with your recycling, our processor has said that due to the small size these items may fall off the line and not make it through the recycling process.

Do I need to remove plastic windows from envelopes and things like staples?

Recycling is easy! 

You do not need to worry about removing the plastic window on envelopes or tissue boxes, staples, paperclips, spiral bindings or even the plastic spout on beverage cartons.  These "contaminants" are separated out from the pulp when paper is mixed with water during the recycling process. 

Please do remove plastic wrap or plastic bags from junk mail and phonebooks.  Plastic bags jam conveyor belts at the recycling facility causing costly repairs and delays.

How can I recycle plastic bags?

Plastic bags and other types of plastic film are accepted at our Recycling Center open Tues/Thurs 4pm-7:30pm and Sat 9-4pm.  We are located in the rear of the DPW yard at 147 Hampshire.

Plastic bags are not accepted in the curbside recycling program because they jam up the conveyor belts at the recycling facility causing costly delays and repairs. 

Learn more about the City's Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance that takes effect March 31, 2016.

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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