What the heck can I recycle in Boston??

Obviously every city/town and state is different with what gets trashed vs what gets recycled. Lots of friends tend to ask me “can I recycle paper plates or paper towels?”, “can I recycle plastic bags?”, and “can I recycle styrofoam?”, to which the answer (for now) is no. Paper plates and paper towels should be tossed into your trash. Plastic bags cannot be recycled through the city of Boston, but can be brought to plastic bag drop-off points (Plastic Bag Recycling post) where they will eventually be turned into composite lumber. Styrofoam is being more and more widely recycled in cities and towns, but unfortunately it is not accepted in Boston just yet. I have used ReFoamIt in the past, but they are closing their doors unfortunately. Towns like Reading, Carlisle, Newburyport, and Newton have some drop-off areas for foam (more locations can be found with this map).  So to help some folks out, take a look at the following…

Items that can be put in city recycling bins (should be mostly clean, not filled with food/liquids):

  • plastic bottles and containers
  • tin/aluminum cans
  • aluminum foil
  • aluminum pie pans
  • glass bottles and jars
  • newspaper, magazines, paperback books, envelopes with windows, brown paper bags, sheets of paper, telephone books
  • pizza boxes, cardboard shipping boxes, and cereal boxes (flattened, cut up if bigger than 3′ x 3′)
  • milk and juice cartons
  • rigid plastics – plastics without the recycling symbol on them like laundry baskets, toys, and buckets

Items that can be recycled in other ways:

  • styrofoam – check with your local town, or simply reuse for insulation/packing material (hint, we will take clean styrofoam)
  • plastic bags and plastic film/wrap – drop off at a local plastic bag drop and ensure they are clean and dry
  • electronics – go through us (we do free pickups) or any of our competitors
  • large appliances and furniture – Goodwill and some other charitable donation companies offer free pickups (National Grid even picks up old refrigerators and freezers for free and will sometimes pay you for them)
  • composting – Cambridge is on top of their compost game and have pushed residents to start composting old food and yard scraps (along with coffee grinds and newspaper, and multiple other compostable materials). Check with your local municipality to see if they accept compost, or if you have a house with a garden, setup a compost bin!

If you get down to it, there’s really not too much items that would make it to landfills if everybody just thought a little bit about where their items could possibly go.

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