Recycling will be picked up on a weekly basis throughout the city on the same day of your rubbish collection.


  • Newspapers & inserts
  • Magazines, catalogues, & phone books
  • Junk mail, including window envelopes (you do not need to remove the window)
  • Office paper
  • File folders & manila envelopes
  • Paperback & hardcover books (remove hard covers first)
  • Paperboard (e.g., “cereal box” or “gray” cardboard that has not been in contact with food)
  • Paper bags
  • Shiny paper
  • Shredded paper


Corrugated cardboard (flattened, cut or folded).


Glass, bottles, & jars. Neck rings and caps are okay; corks and Styrofoam labels must be removed.


Metal food cans (deposit and non-deposit).


Plastic containers labeled #1 - #7 (with lids and spouts removed).

Not Allowed

  • Plastic bags
  • Styrofoam
  • pizza boxes
  • paper cups or plates
  • foil container that is soiled with food or drink
  • soiled tissue or paper
  • organic materials or food waste (coffee bags & tea bags)
  • colored wrapping paper
  • broken glass
  • wax paper milk & juice containers

Preparing Recyclables for Pickup

  • Leominster curbside recycling is now single stream (fully commingled) which means that all recycling can now be placed in the same container!
  • Rinse all containers of residual food.
  • Most small plastic and metal food or drink containers can be stomped flat on the ground prior to placing them into the tote to save volume.
  • Do not place rubbish or anything else that is not recyclable into the blue recycling tote. Improperly loaded recycling totes will not be picked up and a colored sticker will be applied explaining the issue. The contractor will not return until the following week.

Contamination of the recycling stream is a growing problem.

Please help Leominster reduce costs. 


China which was the biggest importer of recyclable materials, recently stopped accepting “dirty” recycling, (mixed bundles of {contaminated} recyclable materials) causing a significant problem for the United States.  Other countries have also taken this stance making the market even smaller.  Now, where will all of it go and who will be willing to pay for it? 

In Massachusetts, these materials are on the Waste Ban list which prohibits them from being thrown into with the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream.  Of course, not all of it can be removed from the MSW but the State does inspect truck loads to determine if a high percentage exists. 

When recycling was started in Leominster, the materials were separated into 2 different bins, paper and cardboard in one, plastic and glass into the other.  These materials were less contaminated than what is collected today.  The inconvenience of having to clean and separate things kept many from recycling.  To create more participation, the single stream recycling program was created.  People could put all of the materials into one bin and it would be separated elsewhere and recycled for re-use. Since it was easier, recycling rates increased.  Today most recycling programs in the United States are now single stream.

Although recycling rates were higher, the level of contamination of each material increased due to the “single stream” collection.  People are not properly cleaning food containers and small amounts of trash including plastic bags are commonly mixed into their recycling bins.  When bits of glass or plastic are mixed with paper, the value is reduced as it adds additional cost to separate them. Having to clean or dispose of dirty plastic containers also adds cost to reusing them.  At this time the low cost of petroleum has reduced the cost of making new plastic, therefore some of the incentive to recycle is lost.  When plastic bags are introduced into the recycling stream they become caught in the separation machinery requiring a shutdown to remove them. 

What does this mean for residents of Leominster? 

If the level of contamination in the City’s recycling is reduced, it will be easier to find buyers of the materials, reducing costs.  If the recycling doesn’t contain plastic bags and other non-recyclable material, the labor costs for sorting and separating will also be reduced.


What can we do to achieve lower contamination rates?

Here are some things we can all do to improve the quality of our recyclable materials.

Please thoroughly rinse all food and drink containers until they are completely emptied and clean.


Do not recycle the thin clear plastic containers that fruit and vegetables are packaged in.  This material is not currently being recycled.


Do not try to recycle hoses, chains, wires, cables, electric cords, plastic strapping, or Christmas lights. These are called “tanglers” in the recycling world as they will become tangled in the gears of the separation machines creating costly shut downs.


Do not recycle wet or soiled cardboard.  Pizza boxes that have oil or grease stains are not acceptable either.


Wood, brick, and asphalt are not recyclable through the curbside collection.  Please see our website for the places that will take these materials.


Styrofoam is not accepted in curbside recycling and at this time we do not know of any facility accepting this.


Diapers should never be considered for recycling.  Used or unused they must be placed in plastic bags for disposal in the MSW stream (trash tote).


Batteries and small metal parts such as nuts, bolts, nails, hand tools, should not be placed into your recycling tote. Large metal objects like car parts also are not acceptable in the curbside recycling.  Please refer to our website for the ways to recycle these items. 


Employees of the Leominster Health Department will be inspecting totes around the city to assess the resident’s recycling habits.  Non-compliant materials will be noted and a list of issues, if any, will be left for the home owner. 


Everyone in the Health Department sincerely thanks you all for pulling together to improve the quality of Leominster’s recycling.  Additional information can be found on our web page on the City’s website,  or by calling our office at 978-962-3558.