Curbside Recycling – Recycle SMART!

CPicture1urbside Recycling Guide – What goes in the Recycle bin – and what does NOT

Welcome to RECYCLE RIGHT / RECYCLE SMART Newburyport where we hope to provide easy-to-follow directions for what does and does not go into curbside recycling — to protect Newburyport’s environment – and tax dollars.

A city-wide campaign has just launched to improve understanding and compliance with Newburyport’s recycling ordinance. We are attempting to simplify at every point to make recycling as convenient as possible. If something is unclear, PLEASE let us know – we are here to help! And we make house calls! Contact the Recycling, Energy, and Sustainability office at City Hall (978.465.4410) or email us directly ( to schedule a home visit to help everyone in your household Recycle SMART!

In addition, we would like to provide a link to the NEW (August 2018) statewide effort to simplify recycling, called RECYCLE SMART. A visit to this site not only explains in simple terms what is accepted in curbside recycling, but a bit of the why as well.

Another question and problem we get frequently is, “How clean does recycling have to be?” There are two very basic points of determination:

  1. Clean enough to not attract pests (bugs or animals) – and ideally, not smell at all
  2. Clean enough to not contaminate other material – salsa spilled all over paper will render the paper worthless.

For more information on How Clean, please click here.

The information below is designed to provide quick information while the links can provide far more detailed information. In addition, every household in Newburyport will receive a large postcard that can be saved to assist in Recycling Right! If your household does not receive a postcard, please visit City Hall where there are extras available. Also, if you would prefer an e-version of the postcard, send us an email @ and we can send you a .pdf file.

Note: the lists below are categorized by material (Paper, Metals, Plastics and Glass) but there are two other sources that, because of the constraints of our blog platform, may be visually more pleasing.

Please visit our Newburyport Recyclopedia, which includes hundreds of household items and how to best dispose of them within our local streams.

Curbside Recycling What DOES and does NOT go in– handy dandy guide for reference!

Paper Products


  • Paper products that are 100% paper (no plastic lining)
  • Cardboard of all thicknesses
  • Opaque milk and large juice cartons
  • Pizza boxes TOPS – no food or grease!


  • No paper towels or napkins or tissues (those can be composted!)  Their fibers are too short for recycling with paper, they are often contaminated with food, cleaning solutions, etc., and can gum up the truck and the sorting systems. 
  • No take-out coffee cups (lined with plastic)

Remember, there are FREE organics drop off carts available 24/7 at the Waste Treatment Facility on Water Street where all of your paper towels, napkins, and tissues can be dropped off with all of your other organics wastes!

Metal Cans

Metal cans from food packaging (but no other metals! All other metals can be brought to the Newburyport Recycle Center on the first Saturday of every month (except September) from 8am – 12noon)


  • Aluminum foil and foil pans, free of food debris, can go in curbside recycling
  • Metal lids from jars
  • Beer bottle tops


  • NO HANGERS – metal hangers should be returned to dry cleaner for reuse or brought to the First Saturdays at the Newburyport Recycle Center
    • Wire (metal) hangers get caught in machinery at both the collection and sorting phases and can cause shut down of equipment and possible damage to equipment and danger to the workers.
    • Plastic hangers may not be disposed of in curbside recycling, either, unless they bear the recycle symbol



Plastics – but only “firm” plastics and those with “chasing arrows” (the recycle symbol) and a number (1-7)

  • NO FILM plastics (bags, wrap, etc) – Many of these go to Market Basket or Shaw’s for recycling. Please see Film Plastics Recycling
  • No bulky/rigid plastics that do not have the recycle symbol and a number (for example, lots of children’s toys.) But you can bring these to the First Saturday of the month recycling drop off days!
  • No drinking straws
  • No “k-cups” (Keurig 1-Cup coffee makers) – if it doesn’t have a recycle symbol, it does not go in recycling! If you need your single-use coffee maker, there are numerous re-usable substitutes available at home goods stores and online, and Keurig does have a take-back program.

DO NOT PUT…If you put these items in curbside recycling, it gets trashed and costs us money – we will get lower rebates due to contamination and the higher sorting costs to the recycling facility .

      • NO STYROFOAM – despite the recycle symbol on many meat trays, etc., our curbside recycle program does NOT include Styrofoam. Styrofoam can be brought to First Saturdays at the Newburyport Recycle Center for recycling or contact the Recycling Coordinator to arrange pick up for large quantities.
      •  NO METAL/WIRE hangers – again, HANGERS – metal hangers should be returned to dry cleaner for reuse or brought to the First Saturdays at the Newburyport Recycle Center
        • Wire (metal) hangers get caught in machinery at both the collection and sorting phases and can cause shut down of equipment and possible damage to equipment and danger to the workers.
      • NO PLASTIC BAGS or other “film” plastics. Despite the recycle symbol on many bags, including those from both Market Basket and Shaw’s, plastic bags ARE NOT accepted in Newburyport’s curbside recycling program. Plastic bags and other film plastics are a major problem for equipment and workers for collecting, hauling and especially sorting. Film plastics cause major jams in the sorting equipment causing costly shuts downs and safety risks to workers. Downtime in processing also means lower rebates on recycling to Newburyport. Please see Film Plastics Recycling.
      • No tapes of any kinds i.e.; VHS/VCR, cassette, film cases, etc. These clog and jam the machines much like the film plastics. These, unfortunately, go into trash


Glass Containers

Glass– The only glass permitted in curbside recycling collection are glass jars from food storage/packaging. No drinking glasses, ceramics, glass from frames or windows, crystal, etc. goes into curbside recycling and will contaminate a load.

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We are collecting articles we find useful in explaining the upheaval in global and national waste processing and diversion here:

Time to Recycle Smarter


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