Recycling FAQ

Recycling FAQ

1. Why should I recycle?

Recycling is responsible resource management. Recycling reduces pollution, saves energy and saves the Town of Reading money. By recycling, we save on the cost of incinerating our trash, currently about $63.02/ton. Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees. The items that we recycle become other useful products.

2. When is my collection day?

The Town of Reading has weekly mandatory recycling collection, your recycling is now collected every week on the same day your trash is picked up. Click here to view the street listing to determine your day.

3. What about holiday week collections?

When there is a holiday, collections will be delayed one day after holiday occurs (e.g. if your usual day is Monday and Monday is a holiday, your trash/recycling day will be Tuesday. Friday’s pickup will be on Saturday that week). If the holiday falls on a Thursday (e.g. Thanksgiving), only Thursday and Friday’s collections would be affected.

4. When should I put out my recycling?

Residents can place their recycling at the curb next to their trash barrel the night before after 4:00pm and no later than 6:00am on their recycling collection day.

5. Why didn’t the trash truck pick up my recycling?

  • Check to make sure you put your recycling out prior to 6:00 a.m. on the correct day. See above.
  • Were they in a bin or barrel clearly marked recycling and separate from your trash barrel.
  • Did you breakdown, flatten, and fold your boxes/cartons/cardboard into no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 6 inches thick?  If cardboard is not wrapped in this manner it will not get taken as our trucks do no accommodate them.
  • Was there anything in the recycling container that is not considered acceptable for recycling. (Please visit to see what items can be recycled.)
  • If all of the above has been done in the correct manner, please call the D.P.W. Garage at 781-942-9092 between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Mon-Fri). 

6. What can I recycle?

Due to the current uncertainty of the recycling market, residents are strongly encouraged to “Go Back to Basics,” by recycling acceptable paper, rinsed plastic containers, rinsed glass containers, or clean metal cans.

PAPER: Newspapers including inserts, magazines, catalogs, phone books, junk mail, clean pizza boxes, clean paperboard such as cereal / pasta boxes and egg cartons and flattened cardboard no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 6 inches thick are some of the paper type items.

COMMINGLED ITEMS: Rinsed plastic containers, rinsed glass containers, and clean metal cans.

For all other questions on whether an item can be recycled in the weekly recycling collection, please refer to the website for more information, or contact the Department of Public Works at 781-942-9077.

Recycling bins containing unacceptable items, will be stickered, left curbside, and the residents will be asked to remove any unacceptable items. Drivers will not be sorting curbside.  If recycling is left behind, it will be picked up on the following week’s collection schedule, provided the unacceptable items have been removed.

7. How do I put items out for recycling?

All clean glass, clean plastic and clean metal containers, can be commingled and placed in your recycling bin or a barrel clearly marked recycling. All newspapers, cereal boxes, junk mail and magazines should be placed in the recycling bin or a clearly marked container with a recycling sticker. Cardboard should be flattened and in bundles no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet by 6 inches thick.  

8. Do I need to rinse and separate cans, bottles and plastic containers from each other?

Yes, rinsing reduces odors and discourages pests.   All glass, plastic and metal containers, can be placed together in your recycling bin.

9. What about Styrofoam, dirty pizza boxes, and microwave food boxes?

Styrofoam collection will consist only of the following: clean, white # 6 PS preformed block and sheet, collected Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 2:30pm at the DPW Garage, 75 Newcrossing Rd.   No food containers of any kind, and no colored styrofoam.

If pizza boxes are clean and free of food particles, they can be recycled.

12. Can I put out more than one recycling bin/barrel?

Yes. You can use your red bin or a trash barrel of your choosing that is clearly marked recycling. 

13. Where can I get a recycling bin or recycling sticker?

A red recycling bin and stickers are available at the Department of Public Works Facility Garage, 75 New Crossing Road or at the DPW Administrative Office in the lower level of Town Hall at 16 Lowell Street.

14. Does the Town collect yard waste (leaves, grass clippings and other easily raked material)?

Yes, the Town will schedule (5) weeks of curbside leaf collection per year. The contractor will pick up Kraft paper bagged leaves (3) weeks in the fall and (2) weeks in the spring. There is no charge for curbside collection.

15. Is there a drop off location for yard waste?

The Town operates a compost site at Strout Ave that is opened from April thru November.  Residents must purchase a Compost Sticker at the Police Station or a Compost Card Permit at the D.P.W. Administration Office in Town Hall.

16. What about Christmas trees?

Residents who want to recycle their Christmas trees are asked to bring them to compost facility when it is open. 

17. Does the Town collect construction & demolition material?

No, the town does not have the ability to pick up any construction and demolition material with either trash or recycling. This category generally includes siding, doors, asphalt, bricks, concrete and other masonry materials, soil, rock, wall coverings, drywall, plumbing fixtures, insulation, roofing shingles, plate glass, metal, wood waste, and electrical wires.

18. What can I do with old paint, used motor oil, and other chemicals?

Latex paint can be dried out (solidify with kitty litter or with specifically designed products that are now available) and placed in the trash. Oil based paints, chemical and other household hazardous waste should be brought to the Town’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection day.  For more information, call the Department of Public Works (781) 942-9077.

19. What can I do with mercury containing items?

Thermometers, thermostats, mercury switches and button batteries can be brought to the D.P.W. Garage, 75 New Crossing Road 8:00 a.m.. - 2:30 p.m. (Mon. - Fri)
Fluorescent lamps should also be brought to the D.P.W. Garage.

20. What do I do with unwanted appliances?

Household appliances (stoves, air conditioners, refrigerators, washers and dryers) are picked up by calling Republic directly at 1-800-442-9006 and arranging payment ($35 fee) and scheduling the pickup. Once payment is received, no refunds are granted .Republic will pick up appliances/white goods on Fridays only.

21. How about CRTs: television sets and computer monitors?  

CRT's (television sets and computer monitors)  are not allowed with regular trash or recycling. These items can be picked up weekly by calling Republic directly at 1-800-442-9006 and arranging payment and scheduling the pickup. There is a $35 fee per item. Republic will pick up television sets and computer monitors on Fridays only.

22. How about microwaves and other electronics?

Most electronics can be recycled at the drop-off center at the garage (no CRT TV’s or monitors), or can be put out any week with the regular trash. Accessories such as printers, scanners, and faxes may be discarded in the regular trash. However, if they are useable, first try to find a place where they can be put to use.

23. Do I have to use the official recycling bin? 

No. You can use any re-usable container for your recycling.  Just label it clearly with a "Recycling Sticker" available through the DPW Administration office at 16 Lowell Street.

24. Can I recycle my old telephone books? 

Yes. Throw them in with your mixed paper recycling.