For decades, recycling was the #1 R on our list, but today, it should be a last resort after we’ve Refused, Reduced and Reused. The blue bin on your curb is one of many ways to Recycle. Download Arlington’s Zero Waste Guide to find out more. 

Avoid “wish cycling.” Recycling contamination hurts our zero waste progress. Not sure how to recycle an item? Refer to the Recyclopedia.


More than half of Americans don’t know how to recycle properly. 500 pounds of every 2,000 pounds* of recyclables they collect are not recyclable,

*According to Waste Management

The following items CANNOT be recycled curbside and must be brought to the monthly Arlington Reuse & Recycling Center

  • rigid foam (styrofoam)
  • electronics
  • small appliances
  • ink and toner cartridges
  • bulky rigid plastics
  • textiles/shoes/clothing
  • books/media
  • plastic bags/soft plastic film/bubble wrap (see below)
  • medical sharps
  • household hazardous waste
  • fire extinguishers and propane tanks
  • shredded paper
  • metal
  • and much more

Recycling beyond the blue bin

Some items cannot be recycled curbside, but shouldn’t be thrown away. Below is a list of items that can be recycled with a little extra effort. Look items up in the Beyond the Bin database. 

Textiles & clothing donations:

Textile recycling, donation, reuse
(clothing, shoes, bedding, pillows, blankets, towels, rags, etc.)

Brown paper grocery bags donation locations:

Arlington EATS

Book donation locations: 

The Book Rack (no textbooks)

Little Free Libraries

More than Words

Can and bottle returns:

Stop & Shop

Plastic bags & film

Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Market Basket

Plastic bags cannot be recycled curbside, no matter what icon is printed on them.

Bring only clean, dry plastic bags and stretchy film that has had adhesive labels removed to Stop & Shop, Market Basket or Whole Foods.

Remove receipts or any other items from bags. Cut out labels … no need to peel them off. Any color bag or plastic film is accepted, such as an shipping bag. DO NOT recycle crinkly non-stretchy bags, which are cellophane (polypropylene) and not polyethylene (aka PE).

Examples include:

  • Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)
  • Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
  • Furniture and electronic wrap
  • Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)

All of the above is considered “film plastic” that should go to the supermarket to be recycled.

The Arlington Stop & Shop has an outdoor receptacle along the wall next to the bottle-can redemption-recycling machines. Stores return the plastic film to their distribution warehouses, which then send the polyethylene film to a PE processor.

Can I Recycle this?

Do you have questions about what is recyclable? You’re not alone.
Curbside recycling can be confusing. Check out the SEARCH box below.


Say no to what you don’t need.


Avoid single-use and unnecessary items.


Switch to reusable and permanent alternatives.


Compost organic household waste.


Recycling is the last resort.