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 tool as well.

Why was my recycling not picked up?

Recycling 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 9am 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. 2 toters, 1 blue bin).

Leave materials at the curb. The recycling trucks usually go back for missed recycling after they have completed their regular route. 

Your recycling may have been rejected due to unacceptable items or the toter being broken. Look for an orange sticker.


Why is there an orange sticker on my recycling?

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

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

  • 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.

  • Unaccepted Items 
    If unsure whether an item can go in curbside recycling use the Get Rid of It Right tool.  

  • Heavy Toter 
    If recycling lots of paper (magazines, files, books) do not fill recycling toter more than 2/3 full.  

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

Recycling Toters
Toters are available at no charge to all residential buildings, city buildings and nonprofit organizations.  Click here to request a toter.

Convert a Trash Barrel
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. Face the sticker to the street.

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 took 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