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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I recycle in Providence's Big Green Can curbside recycling program?
With the new RecycleTogether program, even more materials can be recycled, and they don't have to be separated into separate containers.

In addition to being able to recycle all plastic containers smaller than 2 gallons, you can now mix your recyclables together. In the Big Green Can, recycle your clean paper, clean cardboard, plastic containers smaller than 2 gallons, glass bottles, aluminum and tin cans. Check out for all of the details.

Using the Big Green Can for recycling will save the city money, give residents adequate space to recycle all of the new materials, and will help reduce litter from wind blown recyclables.

What are the new plastics that can be recycled in the Big Green Can?
All small household plastic containers can now be recycled, not just plastic bottles and jugs. Examples of other small household plastic containers include:

  • Wide-mouth jars, like peanut butter and mayo jars
  • Plastic, deli-style take out containers (also known as "clamshells")
  • Plastic egg cartons
  • Yogurt cups
  • Margarine tubs
  • Plastic iced coffee cups (not Styrofoam or paper cups)

What should I avoid putting in the Big Green Can?
Never discard any of these items in the Big Green Can:

  • Leaf and yard waste
  • Wood and other construction debris
  • Food waste
  • Tires or auto parts
  • Clothing or rugs
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic objects that are not containers (like straws or forks)
  • Plastic containers that are bigger than 2 gallons

What happens when residents put the wrong items in the recycling bin?
The Materials Recycling Facility can manage an item or two incorrectly placed in the container, but when too much trash ends up mixed in it contaminates the recyclable materials. That means the city has to treat the whole load of materials as if it were trash. It also means the City gets charged for the whole load being trashed, and we have to spend more tax dollars to throw away all of those materials. That's why recycling only works when everyone does their part.

Disposing of trash in the Big Green Can can result in a minimum fine of $50 to the property owner.

What can I do with clothing and textiles that cannot be placed in recycling?
Never put clothing or textiles in your curbside recycling bin. Textiles placed in recycling bins contaminate the recycling and cause the load to be rejected from the recycling system.
This leads to an increase in garbage and an increased cost to the city and state. Help prevent this by giving old clothes and textiles to Goodwill. Please make sure clothes, sheets, towels, and other textiles are clean, dry, and odorless. Don't worry if they are still stained after you wash them. A portion of the proceeds will help support programs in Providence parks.

Recycle your old clothes and other textiles at these locations:

Davis Park Chalkstone Ave., near Chalkstone Avenue End.
The B. Jae Clanton Educational Complex 674 Prairie Ave., at entrance on Prairie Avenue
Nathan Bishop Middle School 101 Sessions St., rear of school.
Neutaconkanut Park Plainfield St. parking lot, at front of park.
West End Community Center 109 Bucklin St, at entrance drive.
Classical High School 770 Westminster St, near tennis courts.
Hope High School 324 Hope St., Olney Avenue side.
Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School 195 Nelson St, near dumpsters.
Mt. Pleasant High School 434 Mt. Pleasant Ave., front of school.
Delsesto Middle School 152 Springfield Street western end of the parking lot which is nearest to Hartford Avenue

Do I need to flatten cardboard boxes still?
Yes. Please do continue to flatten your boxes as you did before. That helps to save room in the recycling truck so we don't need to make extra trips back to the neighborhood, and it helps things go smoothly at the Materials Recycling Facility. You don't need to worry about folding cardboard to a smaller size anymore. Just make sure it is flattened and can fit inside the Big Green Can with the lid closed.

What size is the new gray trash cart?
All residents will receive a 65-gallon cart. 65-gallon carts have the capacity to hold approximately five kitchen sized trash bags. 65-gallon carts are 40 inches high and 26 inches wide.

What if I have more trash than can fit in my trash cart?
Any item that does not fit in your City issued trash cart is considered a bulky item and must be scheduled for pick up.

How do I arrange for a bulky item pick up?
You can have large, bulky items (i.e. couches, appliances, large toys, mattresses and TV's) picked up for free, except mattresses, by following these easy steps:

  • Call Waste Management at least 24 hours before your regularly scheduled trash collection day to request a bulky item or e-waste pick-up at 1-800-972-4545.
  • Describe the item(s) you are calling to have picked up, limit 3 items per collection day.
  • Place the items at the curb no earlier than 4:00pm on the day before your regular trash collection day.
  • Follow these instructions for e-waste pick-up or bring your unwanted e-waste to the e-waste pods located in the parking lot of Public Works at 700 Allens Avenue from 7:00am to 1:00pm on Saturday.

I need a new gray trash barrel. How do I get one?
Contact the Department of Public Works at 401-467-7950.
Will my trash be picked up if I don't put recycling out?
The City has a "No Bin, No Barrel" policy. If you do not put out recycling, you run the risk of not having your trash collected.

How do I prepare my carts for weekly set-out?
You may put your carts to the curb after 4:00pm on the day preceding your collection day. Place carts no more than three feet from the street and at least three feet apart from each other and away from obstacles such as mailboxes and telephone poles. Cart handles and wheels should be facing the house and arrows on the lid should face the street. The lid to the cart must close tightly, and no material may be sticking out of the carts. By midnight of your collection day, the carts must be removed from the curb and stored in an area that is not viewable from the street.

How do I dispose of yard debris?
Curbside leaf and yard waste service is offered from mid-April to mid-December only.

Leaves and all other yard debris must be labeled and placed in paper bags or put out in open barrels clearly labeled YARD WASTE. Please leave these items out on your trash day. Tree branches must be bundled together and be cut down to less than 4 ft. Never dispose of leaf and yard waste in the Big Green Can recycling cart.

Where do I find out how to dispose of other items?
The Recyclopedia is a comprehensive A-Z listing of materials and instructions on proper recycling and disposal. Recyclopedia is complete with links to the resources you need to responsibly manage your waste, protect the environment and increase the life of our Central Landfill.

What can I do about rats in the neighborhood and in my trash?
It is important to keep the lids down on trash cans to keep rodents out. You can report rodent sightings to the Department of Public Works at (401) 467-7950. Once a report has been made, the owner of the property must sign a consent form. The department will then start the baiting process.

Why wasn't my trash picked up?
The proper way to dispose of trash is to have all trash bins in one area with the lids fully closed. All trash bins must be City-issued gray carts and be accompanied by a Big Green Can recycling cart.

Never leave bagged or loose trash outside of or next to the gray trash cart. Keeping the lids on the cans fully shut helps keep rodents away.

Residents must schedule an appointment for the collection of bulky items (furniture), mattresses, and electronic waste. To make an appointment, please call 1-800-972-4545 at least 24 hours before your regularly scheduled trash day. There is a 3 item limit per unit.

Materials such as paint (except when cans are mostly empty), sheet rock, and wood are not permitted in household trash. A small amount of household renovation or construction debris is permitted as part of personal home improvement projects. Projects involving the use of a contractor require the contracting of a dumpster.

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