The coronavirus has temporarily changed (we hope only temporarily) some of the trash and recycling rules across the state.

Under Governor Baker’s executive order, most trash and recycling services will continue to operate normally, however, a few changes have been made to the rules:

  • Temporary Change to Bottle and Can Deposit Rules.  Massachusetts has temporarily suspended enforcement of the requirement for retailers to accept beverage containers that have a deposit. Some stores and redemption centers may still choose to accept deposit items, but if your local supermarket or grocery store is not, try contacting a redemption center or hold onto your containers until they re-open for container redemption. You can also recycle these containers through your curbside or drop-off program, but this means you’ll be forfeiting your nickel deposits.
  • Reusable Bags Temporarily Prohibited at Grocery Stores and Pharmacies.  Essential businesses continuing to operate during this time, including those subject to local bans on single-use plastic bags, may choose to use recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags, or single-use plastic bags.  They may not charge customers a fee for these bags. Remember to not place plastic bags in your recycling bin. Instead, hang onto them for future recycling at a drop-off location, such as your local supermarket. Visit for tips on recycling plastic bags and wrap.

(GN: There is little evidence to support the idea that single-use bags transmit fewer germs than clean reusable bags, but it is unfortunately a requirement at this time. If you wish to avoid single-use bags, you can leave your items unbagged in the cart after checkout and load them into your reusable bags once you reach your car.)

  • Ordering Takeout? Reduce Plastic Waste.  If you are ordering take-out or delivery meals, ask the restaurant to skip the disposable cutlery. You likely have reusable forks, spoons, and knives in your home or apartment.
  • Spring Cleaning For Your Mailbox.  If you find yourself with some extra time at home, check out this article to learn about easy ways to reduce unwanted junk mail from the comfort of your couch.

(GN: You can also use this Green Newton post to reduce your junk mail from the comfort of your home. )

  • Give Your Old Clothes a New Life.  If you are doing spring cleaning and organizing closets, be sure to keep old clothing and textiles out of the waste stream. Textiles represent approximately 6% of the trash going to Massachusetts trash incinerators and landfills. Never throw old textiles away—regardless of condition. To find a local charity that will pick up your donations at your home, check out Donation Town.

(GN: City of Newton Recycling Center once they open again.)

* The information above comes primarily from our partners at

Green Newton thanks Neil Rhiein at Keep Massachusetts Beautiful for the above post.