Blog Post

If your business is resuming in-person operations after a period of closure, you may have questions about resuming your trash and recycling services. Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you reopen:

  • Contact your waste hauler – It is critical to provide advanced notice to your waste hauler(s) that you need to re-start collection services, including trash, recyclables, and food materials. These service providers need time to plan for adjusted routes and schedules. Even if you are not reopening, you may want to contact your waste hauler to ensure they do not automatically start collection services at your business.
  • Re-evaluate your waste needs – Keep in mind that your business may generate more or less waste than you did previously, especially if you are operating at a reduced level or have employees working remotely. Talk with your hauler to make any necessary adjustments to your equipment, materials collected, or service frequency, and communicate how your waste needs might change over time.
  • Communicate with your employees – Make sure that all of your employees know about any potential changes to your recycling or composting programs and include this information in your communications regarding required social distancing and hygiene protocols. Provide comprehensive training for all staff that are responsible for collecting or transporting trash and recycling, regardless of whether your waste management practices have changed.
  • Follow Recycle Smart MA guidance – It remains critical that you collect the proper materials for recycling and keep trash out of the recycling bin. If you are unsure whether a material should be collected for recycling, check the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Recycle Smart MA Recyclopedia and confirm with your recycling hauler. All disposable face masks, rubber gloves, and sanitizing wipes should be placed in the trash. Do not bag recyclables.
  • Continue recycling at your business – According to the National Waste and Recycling Association, trash and recycling from commercial businesses can continue to be managed as it was pre-closure, unless otherwise directed by your local health department. Don’t forget that many easy-to-recycle items are banned from disposal in Massachusetts. This includes cardboard, paper, bottles, and cans, and other materials.
  • Contact RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts – If you have items at your business that you are not sure can be reused or recycled, RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) can help you identify potential alternatives to disposal. Upon reopening, some businesses may find themselves with surplus edible food or inedible food products, including packaged items. RecyclingWorks can help you learn more about food donation, as well as options for composting, animal feed, and anaerobic digestion. If your business chooses to do a “spring cleaning” as part of its reopening and removes clutter or unwanted items, this is also an important reuse and recycling opportunity. Talk to your hauler about any special needs and contact RecyclingWorks for additional assistance.

Here are a few additional resources to help your business navigate the path to re-opening:

  • Reopening Massachusetts – this webpage includes comprehensive information from the Baker-Polito Administration regarding the plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Information for the Solid Waste Management Industry – MassDEP has identified a number of resources related to the management of solid waste during the evolving COVID-19 outbreak which are listed on this webpage.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts is a recycling assistance program funded by the MassDEP that helps businesses and institutions reduce waste and maximize recycling, reuse, and food recovery opportunities. Contact us to learn more about our no-cost technical assistance, which can be provided remotely: 888-254-5525 or