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Zero Waste Boston

Zero Waste Boston is our initiative to transform Boston into a zero waste city.

Zero waste means reducing, repairing, and reusing the materials in our lives. The Zero Waste Boston initiative strives to move Boston toward zero waste through planning, policy, and community engagement. 

Reducing plastic bags

On December 14, 2018, the City's plastic bag ordinance went into effect.

Plastic bag information

About Zero Waste Boston

In 2018, the City of Boston launched the Zero Waste Boston initiative.

The Zero Waste Advisory Committee is recommending strategies to make Boston a zero-waste city. This means Boston will reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost at least 80 to 90 percent of its solid waste. We'll also cut disposal in landfills or incinerators. The recommendations fall under four categories:

  1. Reduce and reuse
  2. Recycle more
  3. Increase composting
  4. Inspire innovation

The Carbon Free Boston Report assessed the potential carbon impact of the recommendations.

Waste in Boston today

In 2017, Boston’s waste sector emitted an estimated 393 kilotons of carbon. Most of those emissions came from waste incineration. Boston businesses and institutions generate four-fifths of municipal solid waste. Municipal solid waste includes everything that Boston businesses and residents throw away.

Carbon free boston waste RESULTS

A 90 percent diversion rate would reduce waste emissions by 78 percent relative to 2017 emissions. Disposal of the last 10 percent of solid waste generates most of the remaining emissions. The rest are from composting and collection services. The report assumed that:

  • generating waste increases with economic and population growth, and
  • people will divert 80 percent more waste to recycling and composting by 2030.

Zero Waste Advisory Committee


Public Works

Public Works operates all recycling and waste programs in the City. They ensure that our streets, sidewalks, and bridges are safe and clean.

Learn about Public Works


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