Initiatives

Eliminating waste requires a significant cultural change and is a team effort. Have a question or want to help us with these programs?  Email us.

Plastics Reduction

Reduce Single-Use!

This campaign encourages and supports Arlington restaurants that reduce their distribution of single-use excess items (plastic utensils, straws, condiment packets, etc.)  that takeout and dine-in patrons usually don’t need. The goal? Reduce waste, reduce costs, and create environmentally sound dining choices!

Arlington on Tap

Arlington needs a robust network of publicly-available bottle refilling stations. We’re working with the Department of Public Works and the Recreation Department to identify priority locations near the Minuteman bikeway, playing fields, parks, and playgrounds so that we can ensure easy access to drinking water and reduce the use of single-use beverage bottles.

Single-use water bottle ban – 2022 Town Meeting Vote

In spring 2022, Zero Waste Arlington proposed a bylaw prohibiting the sale of plastic bottles of water in Arlington. This is estimated to eliminate the consumption of 750,000+ units per year. The ban was overwhelmingly approved by Town Meeting members, taking effect in November 2022.

The bylaw aims to protect the environment and public health, reduce litter and plastic pollution, and reduce the Town’s carbon footprint.

Polystyrene (#6 plastic) Ban – 2019 Town Meeting Vote

Zero Waste Arlington introduced a ban on polystyrene single-use items (cups, clamshell take-out containers, utensils, straws, etc.) by food service retailers which was passed by Town Meeting in 2019. In doing so, Arlington joined nearly 40 other Massachusetts municipalities.

Polystyrene, known as #6 plastic, is produced in both expanded form (EPS) as foam (such as Styrofoam brand) and as rigid polystyrene (PS). Both forms of polystyrene have very poor recyclability. Foam is not accepted by most MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities) where our blue bin materials are taken and easily breaks into tiny micro-foam beads. Rigid polystyrene (PS) is very brittle and fractures into small pieces when compacted and cannot be baled at a MRF.

Textile Recycling
Worn or torn, donate it all!

About 95% of all textiles (including clothing, footwear, accessories, bedding, and draperies) can be reused or recycled. 

For more information on textile recycling in Arlington (clothing, mattresses, other textiles), read our Textiles Reuse and Recycling blog. 

Arlington Public Schools partners with Bay State Textiles. In exchange for the schools hosting large, outdoor collection bins, Bay State gives the schools cash rewards based on the tonnage collected.  Bins are currently hosted at Ottoson, Brackett, Peirce, Stratton, Bishop, Hardy, Thompson, Dallin, and Gibbs.

Textiles are also collected by Planet Aid (bins along Mass Ave.), the Goodwill Truck at the Stop & Shop parking lot, by Second Chances (bin behind Whole Foods), and The Little Fox Shop in the Fox Library.

See all locations on a map

Want to organize a neighborhood collection or clothing swap? Email us, we’d love to help you!

Composting (aka Organics Recycling or Food Scrap Diversion)

Food Scrap Diversion

About 25% of what we in Arlington place in our regular trash bins is organic matter. Sometimes it comes from the kitchen counter cutting board, sometimes from the after-meal plates, and sometimes straight out of the refrigerator. It doesn’t make sense to incinerate this valuable commodity! Why pay to haul and then incinerate organic matter, when it could be composted into rich soil? 

We want residents and restaurants to think of food scraps as a valuable commodity to be recycled. We partner with the Department of Public Works to promote Arlington’s three choices:

      1. Keep it hyper-local! Set up a composting system in your backyard.
      2. Take your sorted food scraps periodically to a Feed FiDO bin for free, off-site composting. FiDO (which stands for Food scrap Drop Off) is a Town of Arlington pilot drop-off program.
      3. Subscribe to a weekly pick-up service. These private companies are permitted to haul food scraps in Arlington: Black Earth CompostBootstrap Compost, and Garbage to Garden.

    Halloween Pumpkin Recycling – The Great Pumpkin Rescue

    This annual campaign reminds residents that raw and carved pumpkins do not qualify as Yard Waste, and should be composted or put out with regular trash. APS elementary school Green Teams organize pumpkin collections at the schools a few days after Halloween. Black Earth does a special collection of this growing tonnage!