Recycle at the Curb

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Recycling Contamination

Newton is working to raise its Recycling IQ.

Newton's recycling is not as clean as it should be. Plastic bags continue to be the number one problem. Plastic bags bind up machinery at the sorting facility, which decreases efficiency, increases costs, and creates a safety risk to workers.

Below are the most common recycling contaminants - keep these out or your green cart! 

Single Stream Recycling

What goes in the green cart? Empty bottles, jars, and containers made of metal, plastic and glass from the kitchen, laundry and bath. Paper and flattened cardboard. That’s it.

Single stream recycling increases convenience, thus increasing participation and volume of material collected, which decreases the amount of waste going to disposal.

Having one collection for curbside recycling means less trips to the recycling processing facility, thereby reducing transportation costs and collection vehicle emissions.

A material recovery facility, or MRF, is where recyclables go to get sorted after they're picked up. How a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) Works [VIDEO]

Want to see recyclables getting sorted? Request a tour of the Waste Management Avon MRF, where Newton's recycling goes, by emailing Newton Sustainable Materials Management

Newton has been recycling since 1971. In 1990, recycling became mandatory according to the technology of that time—dual stream recycling, meaning all acceptable recyclable materials had to be separated into two streams: paper products and bottles and cans. Newton switched to single stream recycling in April 2009.

Learn more about Newton's recycling program from Waneta Trabert, Newton's Sustainable Materials Management Director, who was featured on an episode of NewTV's Books and Beyond.

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Green Cart Do's & Dont's

DO put the following items loose in your green cart:

Paper & Cardboard 

  • White & colored paper (staples, paper clips, spirals OK)

  • Cardboard (flatten & fold boxes)

  • Paperboard (paper towel rolls, cereal, tissue boxes)

  • Phone books & junk mail

  • Magazines & catalogs

  • Newspapers & inserts

  • Paper bags

  • Pizza boxes (empty, minor oil stains OK)

  • Books (rip off hard covers)


  • Aluminum cans, trays & foil

  • Stiff plastic containers such as bottles, jugs, and tubs

  • Glass bottles & jars


DON'T put any of these materials in your green cart:


Proper Outlet

More Information

Plastic bags, plastic films, or plastic wraps

These materials can be returned to some supermarkets and retailers. Look up a list of locations here.

Plastic utensils

Place in trash


Bulky plastics (chairs, toys, buckets, storage containers)

Recycle at the Resource Recovery Center

Resource Recovery Center


Flower pots & garden plastics

Recycle at the Resource Recovery Center 

Resource Recovery Center


Food or beverage cartons  Place in trash   
Black plastic (i.e. take out trays)  Place in trash In the single stream recycling process, plastic items are sorted using optical scanners, which use the reflect of light to identify the types of plastic. Black doesn't reflect light, so it cannot be seen and sorted properly by the scanners. As a result, it end up being sorted incorrectly, contaminating other materials.
Small plastic bottles  Place in trash Small bottles such as prescription medicine bottles are too small to be captured by the single stream recycling equipment.

Dishes, ceramics & pyrex

Donate, sell or place in trash


Clothing, bedding & other textiles


Ripped & stained

All types of textiles, including shoes, belts and stuffed animals, can be donated to various charities at the Resource Recovery Center.

Resource Recovery Center


Paper coffee cup  Place in trash   
Shredded Paper   Place in trash or compost  


Recycle at the Resource Recovery Center

Resource Recovery Center

Paper plates, napkins, paper towels, tissues

Place in trash or compost 


Light bulbs

Recycle at the Resource Recovery Center

Resource Recovery Center

Metal pots, pans, hangers, other scrap metal

Recycle at the Resource Recovery Center

Resource Recovery Center


How to Set Your Carts Out for Collection:

  1.  Park It On your collection day, wheel your carts to the curb by 7:00am on your collection day, or as early as 4:00pm the day before collection.
  2. Point It The carts must be within 3 feet of the curb with the wheels and handle facing your house (make sure lid opens towards the street). All trash (blue cart) and recycling (green cart) must be placed in the cart with lid closed. No material outside the cart will be collected.
  3. Space It The cart must be at least 3 feet from objects (including parked cars, fire hydrants, telephone poles, trees, bulky waste, other carts, mail boxes, etc.). If possible, please do not park on the street on your collection day.  

Is your green cart overflowing?

  1. Flatten all cardboard and paperboard boxes. Fold or cut large pieces of cardboard to fit them in your green cart.
  2. Flatten plastic milk jugs.This will save space in your cart to prevent overflow.
  3. No styrofoam. Stryrofoam is recyclable only by drop of at the Newton Resource Recovery Center. 
  4. Drop off occasional excess recyclables at the Newton Resource Recovery Center.

 If you have done all of the steps above and your green cart is overflowing most weeks, you can call DPW Customer Service at 617-796-1000 to request an additional green cart at no cost.

 Additional recycling cart requests may be suspended during inclement weather periods. The recycling carts are for residential use only. Alternatively, all Newton residents can bring extra recyclables to the Resource Recovery Center

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Appliances, Electronics & Metal Items

Appliances, electronics (TVs and computers), and metal items can be collected curbside for recycling by requesting a pick up on the City Hall Systems Online Bill Payment Site. Select "Newton, MA" from the municipality drop down box, click the "Click here to VIEW or PAY your bills" button, and choose "White Goods/E-Waste" from the "Select Bill Type" menu to make a request. Requests scheduled by the end of the business day on Friday will be completed the following Wednesday. 

Note: Please remove all doors prior to setting out a refrigerator for collection.

You can also drop off appliances, electronics, and metal items to the Resource Recovery Center  during open hours. There is a $25 fee for TVs and monitors ($18 for each additional). Proof of payment must be presented to the attendant at the time of drop off.  

If your item is still working, please consider donation! Check out our reuse options list.

The sponsors of Mass Save are offering no-cost pickup and removal plus a $50 rebate to residential electric customers who recycle their refrigerators or freezers. For more information, visit the Mass Save website

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