Waste Management Automated Collection FAQ's


General Questions

  1. What is automated Trash collection?
    • It is a new collection system using separate carts for trash and recycling.  Recyclable materials will all go into one cart – including paper. The material is picked up in an automated truck. The system will promote recycling and keep Salem cleaner and neater and more sanitary on trash day.
  2. Why did the City choose these cart colors?
    • The cart colors were selected based on the recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.  Also, the industry standard is black for trash and blue for recycling; governmental organizations are working to standardize these colors country-wide.
  3. Why is the City changing the way it handles mandatory recycling and trash pick-up?
    • Data shows that large carts used with an automated collection system increases recycling participation and controls costs for municipalities.  The cart system also reduces litter.
  4. When does it start?
    • Cart delivery will start October 5, 2015 and collection will start November 2, 2015. It is recommended that you write your address on your cart, THE CART IS THE PROPERTY OF THE CITY OF SALEM AND SHALL REMAIN WITH THE PROPERTY IF YOU SHOULD MOVE.
  5. What can I expect? ( carts size and use)
    • Residents will receive one set of carts, a 64-gallon (black) cart for solid waste and a 96-gallon (blue) cart for recycling. Both carts must be closed to allow for pick-up.  Beginning November 2, 2015 trash will be collected every week and recycling will be collected every other week.
  6. Is my pick-up schedule going to change?
    • There will be some route changes. If your route is going to be changed, you will be notified of the change by Code Red calls and postings. Everyone will be changing to every other week recycling. The color lid on your recycling container will identify your recycling week.  The recycling week will be on the calendar in the program guide being mailed to you or on the City web site. 
  7. Why do carts have to be curbside by 7:00 AM
    • It is important to have your trash and recycling curbside by 7:00 AM to ensure your trash and recycling is picked up.   The order that the trucks pick up materials may change due to various circumstances, so you must have everything out by 7am.  Trucks will not return for materials placed curbside after 7am.
  8. Where do I put the carts for collection?
    • Carts should be placed close to curb edge for easy access by the automated truck. Your carts should be unobstructed by trees and cars and placed approximately two and a half feet apart.
  9. Where do I put the carts when it snows?
    • Clear an area close to the curb or a driveway where you may have put your barrels before.
  10. I have limited yard space. How will I find space for the carts?
    • Carts actually take up less space than barrels and multiple blue bins.  The attached lids keep trash and recyclables contained and the sturdy wheels allow you to easily move your carts.
  11. Can I share my carts with my neighbors / condo owners? 
    • If space is at a premium, you can share carts.
  12. If I move, can I take the carts with me?
    • No. The carts are the property of the City of Salem. Each cart has a serial number attached to each address, and MUST REMAIN WITH THE ADDRESS.
  13. Can I put my address or apartment number on the cart?
    • Yes. It is highly recommended.
  14. What do I do if the carts disappear?
    • Report the missing carts to the police. Then contact the city at 978-619-5673. You may be responsible for replacement of the carts. Please make a note of your serial numbers of each carts and keep in a safe place.
  15. What if the carts are damaged?
    • Call Waste Management at 800-972-4545 to arrange for repair.
  16.  What do we do with our yard waste?
    • Yard waste schedule and collection has not changed. We encourage you to use your old barrels for yard waste.
    • The City has YARD WASTE labels to clearly mark your yard waste barrels.
  17. What is a bulk or white goods item?
    • Anything that does not fit into the 64 gallon trash cart.
      • Bulk= non-metal household items too large to fit in the cart. No Construction debris, plumbing fixtures or carpet.
      • White Goods= Stove, Washer/Dryer, Hot Water Heater, Dishwasher, Trash compactor
  18. How do I get rid of bulky items and white goods items?
    • Beginning November 2, 2015 residents must make an appointment for bulk/white goods  items with Waste Management at 800-972-4545. Bulk items will be scheduled for pick-up on your recycling collection week, and must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. White Goods items will be scheduled for pickup once per month.
  19. What do I do with my old barrels?
    • We suggest using old barrels for yard waste. If not, there will be a drop off provided at DPS at 5 Jefferson Avenue.  You may drop off your old barrels to be recycled between 7 and 3, Monday through Friday, for the entire month of November.   You may also drop your barrels off at North Shore Recycled Fibers at 53 Jefferson Avenue.
  20. What do I do with my blue or green recycling bins?
    • Blue bins are useful for storage and for carting items.  If you do not have room or need for your blue bins they can be recycled at North Shore Recycled Fibers at 53 Jefferson Avenue. There will also be a drop off provided at DPS at 5 Jefferson Avenue.  You may drop off your old bins to be recycled between 7 and 3, Monday through Friday, for the entire month of November.
  21. How can I secure my cart?
    • Use a bungie cords to secure the cart if needed; make sure to remove prior to placing the cart curbside.
Trash Questions


  1. What do I do if I have more trash than will fit into the 64-gallon cart?
    • City of Salem approved overflow bags may be used. See the City’s Recycling & Trash page (http://www.salem.com/recycling-and-trash) for details on purchasing.
    • For additional information call 978-619-5679.
  2. Should I use plastic bags in my trash cart?
    • YES-You should use some type of bag in the trash cart to ensure the trash can be emptied.  If not, build up can occur in the bottom of the cart, making it difficult to empty and keep clean.

Recycling Questions

  1. What do I do if I have more recycling than will fit into the 96-gallon cart?
    • You can hold the excess material until the next recycling collection or additional carts can be rented through the City (please call 978-619-5679) or your recycling can be dropped off at North Shore Recycled Fibers at 53 Jefferson Avenue (paper must be kept separate for this drop off option).
  2. How do I know what week my recycling is picked up?
    • You will have a blue lid or a green lid on your recycling cart, which will correspond to your recycling week. See the city calendar for what week it is.
  3. Must I place my recycling out for each pick-up?
    • It is recommended that you put your recycling cart out for pickup on your designated week regardless of how full the cart is.
    •  Recycling must be placed out at least every other potential pick up week
  4. Should I use plastic bags in my recycling cart?
    • NO-plastic bags are only recyclable at the grocery stores.  Please do not use any type of plastic bags in the recycling carts as they clog the machinery at the recycling facility.
  5. How do I know what to recycle?
    • There is a list of material that can be recycled on your recycling cart, in the program guide, on GreenSalem.com and on the City web site. No foam, no plastic bags or plastic wrap, no ‘clamshells’-plastic hinged containers.
  6. Is there anything I should not recycle?
    • Yes; please refer to the cart lid label or City website.   Please also make sure that ALL recyclable material is free from liquid and food waste.
  7. Where do I go, if I have more recycling questions?
    • Please visit the City website www.Salem.com/recycling, GreenSalem.com, and SalemRecycles on Facebook.  You can also sign up for a free SalemRecycles monthly e-newsletter at GreenSalem.com.