Trash & Recycling

Get ready for a major upgrade to our recycling program!

On August 7, crews will begin distributing recycling carts to every home and apartment that receives trash and recycling collection from the City of Portland. These will replace the small blue bins we have been using since 1999.  The carts will hold almost four times more material than the blue bin.  They also have lids which will protect the contents from wind and animals.  This will greatly reduce litter.  The ergonomic design will allow nearly anyone to roll their recycling cart to the curb with ease.  
new recycling cart

Cart Tips

Here are some tips for using your cart
  • Put your cart out on your regularly scheduled collection day. We still take the same items for recycling, just in a cart instead of a bin.
  • Put all of your recyclables in your cart. Do not place loose items on the ground or in a blue bin. Loose materials contribute to litter.
  • Put your cart where the collection crew can reach it easily. Don't put it behind parked cars, poles, snowbanks, or other obstacles. 
  • Don't leave your cart at the curb between collections. Store it next to or behind your house, in a shed, or in a garage.
  • Set your cart out only when it is full. Consider holding it for a week if it less than half full.
  • Your cart is assigned to your house or apartment. Please leave it for the next occupant should you move.
  • Use our new web tool to find out what you can recycle and when your collection day is.  Check back soon to download our Recycle Portland app!

Cart FAQ

Do I have to use the cart to recycle?

Yes -- Crews will only be collecting recyclables in the cart. Do not place materials in a blue bin or loose on the ground.

What do I do with my old blue bin?

It’s yours to keep! Consider using it inside to collect your recyclables and then dump materials into your new cart outside. If you really don’t want your old blue bin, you can place it in the new cart and we’ll recycle it.

How big are the carts?

Most homes will receive a 65-gallon cart. The footprint is similar to that of the old blue recycling bin but it is taller. The dimensions are: 27.5" x 33.25" x 45.4". The carts are very lightweight, and with wheels and a handlebar, will actually be easier for most to maneuver than picking up and carrying the current bin.

Do I have to pick up the cart or will it be delivered?

We will deliver a cart to your home -- if you currently receive trash & recycling collection -- starting the week of August 7. It will take a few weeks for everyone to get one.

Do I have to pay for the cart?

Carts will be delivered free of charge.

I live in a multi-unit building, will we get more than one cart?

Multi-unit buildings will receive multiple larger carts depending on building size. Buildings with 5-7 units will receive 2 carts, buildings with 8-10 units will receive 3 carts. Townhouse condos that have signed up for City trash and recycling service will receive one per townhouse. Buildings that do not have City service will not get a cart.

Is the City using automated collection like South Portland and Scarborough?

No, City crews will continue to use the existing recycling trucks equipped with a cart tipper.

Will Island residents get one?

Peaks Island residents will have carts delivered in September.

What will I do in the winter when there are 6-foot snow banks?

We realize snow presents some obstacles here in Portland. Currently, snow is a challenge even for the blue bins. Many people place them on top of snow banks, which makes it difficult or impossible for crews to access, and sometimes they can tip over spilling material all over. With the new carts, we encourage you to make space for it when performing routine snow removal, just like you would for your mail box, sidewalk, or driveway. If that’s not possible, remember you don’t have to put out your cart each week since they hold more material. Consider holding your cart back for a week and placing it out once there’s not as much snow in the way.

How will these work on peninsula? 

This type of program has been implemented in communities large and small around the country, including cities with harsh winters. We realize this presents challenges for residents in some circumstances, particularly on the peninsula where people live close together. In buildings that lack a shed or garage you may choose to place carts alongside or behind the building and bring them to the curb on collection day.

We realize this requires residents in multi-family buildings to adjust the way they handle their recycling, but the benefit carts provides make this change necessary. A recent study by a professor at USM indicates that material blowing out of open top bins contributes over a ton of litter to Portland streets every week. Denser neighborhoods bear the brunt of this problem because of the large number of bins set at the curb each week. The vast majority of the litter goes uncollected and ends up in Casco Bay via catch basins and storm drains or simply by being wind blown. So, in addition to being unsightly, the litter has a serious impact on the environment. Carts resolve this problem by containing the contents with a cover and, because they are taller than bins, allow the cover to be closed when someone wishes to recycle cardboard. Carts also contribute to worker safety. Collecting the blue bins requires workers to perform thousands of bending, twisting, and lifting motions throughout the day, all of which introduce the possibility of injury. Icy winter conditions exacerbate this problem by increasing the likelihood of slip and fall injuries, particularly as the collectors attempt to retrieve bins set on top of snow banks. 

We realize that some may have some inconveniences in the beginning as people get used to this new change, but we hope you can appreciate why this new system is necessary. Thank you for your cooperation and patience.