Framingham Recycles: Recycling Cart Etiquette

Editor’s Note: This is a weekly column by the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Framingham. Residents can submit questions to Recycling Coordinator Stephen Sarnosky via SOURCE at


FRAMINGHAM – As a Recycling Coordinator, I frequently come across residents who are not sure what a recycling cart looks like or what a refuse cart looks like, or what size carts are available to them?

At first glance, this may seem obvious. However, for newcomers to our community and those who may come from parts of the country that do not recycle at all, determining which cart is used for refuse and which cart is used for recycling may not be clear. Let’s take a closer look.

When recycling was first rolled out in Framingham, residents were given some choices as it relates to cart sizes. It’s still true to this day that residents are given the option of a 35-gallon, 64-gallon, or 96-gallon recycling cart; with the 96-gallon being the preferred size to encourage more recycling.

The 35-gallon and the 64-gallon carts are solid black while the 96-gallon has a solid black bottom with a yellowtop. Easy enough. Right?

However, recycling carts are frequently used as refuse carts.

Refuse carts are solid grey and come in sizes 35-gallon and 96-gallon and have refuse do’s and don’ts printed on the lid.

Refuse and Recycling Curbside Etiquette

Did you know that there’s a proper way to place your cart at curbside?

DPW Sanitation receives calls from residents wondering why their cart(s) were not picked up and here are the top few:

  1. The cart was not placed at curbside by 7 a.m.
  2. The cart was placed too closely to another cart or object. In this regard, carts blocked by vehicles, telephone poles, fire hydrants and low hanging objects will not be collected because the driver must be able to get the truck’s claws around the cart. Keep 3 feet between carts.
  3. The cart is over its 96 gallon capacity with the lid open, or contained waste banned items, or in the case of recycling was contaminated with refuse. Please make sure the cart’s lid opening is facing the street; this prevents the contents from spilling out and onto the street when tipped. Please keep in mind that drivers enjoy collecting refuse and recycling carts and will make every effort to do so.

Recycling Q&A

I recently received this question from a reader: “I am curious about where our refuse (now I know the right word for it!) goes and what happens to it when it gets there?”

This is a very good question. Framingham’s refuse goes to a burn facility in Millbury, MA and is turned into an electrical energy source for surrounding Cities and Towns. Landfills in Massachusetts are being phased out, and I hope that more waste-to-energy facilities will be built.

“When plastic containers have a good recycling number on the bottom part, but the top has no number, can we assume that the top is also recyclable, or should we put it in our refuse?”

Plastic food containers with lids attached can go into your recycling.

Recycle clear plastic cups like Dunkin’ Donuts. Place lids and straws into the refuse.

Recycle plastic shampoo bottles with the lids attached.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: Phone: 508-315-7176

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