Updates to City Yard Hours of Operations – Beginning May 9th

The City Yard, at 72 Tremont St., will be opening on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for Melrose residents only. We will be open during normal business hours for collection of recyclables and yard waste. These new hours will begin on Saturday, May 9th, and will continue until further notice.

Although the yard is open for use, the main building will remain closed to the public. Proof of Melrose residency will be mandatory for drop off and will be checked by a yard attendee. If you do not have a sticker you can call the office at 781-665-0142 and arrange getting one; you may also use a license with a Melrose address on it for entrance. When you arrive at the yard, please make sure you are wearing a mask and that you keep your windows rolled up for the safety of our employees.

The yard will not be accepting light bulbs, batteries or e-waste at this time. For light bulbs and batteries please use Batteries plus Bulbs in Saugus, which offers a free recycling services for these items. E-waste drop off (e.g., computers, TVs, etc.) will resume once we are able to open normally and collect payment.

As a reminder, you can recycle the following items at the City Yard –

  • All recyclables normally collected curbside including paper, flattened cardboard, plastic & glass bottles, and aluminum cans
  • Textiles and clothing
  • Books
  • Propane tanks
  • Yard waste

Please remember that we do not accept bulky rigid plastics, trash, or plastic bags at the recycling center.

Please also note that our regularly scheduled curbside yard waste pickup will resume next week, beginning on May 4th. Please place your yard waste at the curb in paper bags or reusable receptacles labeled ‘Yard Waste’ on your usual trash day. There is a 10 bag limit per household.


We thank you for your cooperation. Please call the office at 781-665-0142, or email sflanagan@cityofmelrose with any questions or concerns.

Updates on Yard Waste Pickup

Due to growing concern for the health and safety of all City of Melrose Employees, we have decided that we will be delaying the start of curbside yard waste pickup this year until after state of Massachusetts social distancing guidelines end. This decision was made collaboratively between the Mayor’s office and DPW.

DPW employees would need to directly handle all yard waste in order to move it from the curb and into our trucks. With new restrictions as well as concern for the transmission of germs, this is not the safest option for our workers and could very well put them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. The truck used by our employees to bring in yard waste is also not functioning properly at this time and has a brake line that requires replacement. With all non-essential businesses being closed we are unable to procure the part for the repair at this time.

We do understand that cleaning your yards during quarantine and social distancing has become more popular. Keeping this in mind, once we are open again we will add on extra days to the yard waste curbside pickup as well as more open days and times at City Yard.

We thank you for your continued efforts to stay home and stay safe. We are still here in the office Monday through Friday to answer your questions and we can be reached by phone at 781-665-0142 or by email at sflanagan@cityofmelrose.org.

PPE on Municipal Employees

PPEYou may have noticed that our municipal trash crews are dressed a little differently. For the foreseeable future, City trash crews will be dressed in full protective gear, as you can see in the photo. This is for the health and safety of these workers and their families as they handle trash from our parks, business districts, and other areas around the City. This change is to also ensure that these employees continue to stay safe so that they can provide us with their essential services. If you have any questions please reach out to DPW at 781-665-0142.

Thanks you for your continued efforts to stay home and stay safe during these unprecedented times.

Important – New Updates in Melrose Recycling

Pink+Bag+002Simple Recycling, the company responsible for picking up the pink bags, has notified us that they are suspending the program for an indefinite amount of time as they are not considered a “COVID-19 essential businesses” under Governor Baker’s executive order (COVID-19 Order No. 13). If you are planning to clean out your closets while at home, please keep your clothing goods for now and plan to drop them off at one of the school bins or local drop-off sights when things are open again, or wait until Simple Recycling resumes pickup. Please do not travel to these bins now as they may overflow with new limited pickup schedules. Thank you for your understanding and we apologize for the inconvenience.

While pink bag pickup is temporarily halted, all other trash and recycling will remain on schedule. Please put out your garbage and recycling bins on your normal trash day. Refrain from putting it out before 5 pm the night before pickup as animals may get into the container and we want to avoid further issues with trash pickup and keep Melrose free of litter.

Recycling should only contain approved recyclable materials. Please remember that plastic bags, wires, Styrofoam, rigid plastics, textiles, milk, juice and soup cardboard cartons are not considered recyclable. Your recycling will be left if these items are in your bin. Recycling left with an orange contamination sticker will not be scheduled for re-pickup. Pickup will occur the following week as long as there is no contamination. Further, currently we are not allowing items to be dropped off at the City Yard as we are not open to the public.

contaminated recyling

Please know that recycling goes through a complex process of screens, blades, scanners, fans, air jets and even magnets. These are meant to remove all non-recyclable materials and other forms of contamination. Even with all of these things, there are inevitably some materials that will slip through and cause contamination. There are some easy things that everyone can do to decrease the amount of contamination.

  • Put your recyclables in your bin loose (not in plastic bags)
  • Clean all food residue out of cans and jars
  • Keep your plastic goods as clean, empty and dry as possible
  • Toss any food soiled items (napkins, tissues, paper towels, pizza boxes) in the trash
  • Keep trash OUT of your recycling bins

We thank you for your efforts in keeping recycling materials clean and appreciate your understanding!

A PSA on Melrose Sewer Backups


not a trash canWith more people staying home every day to adhere to social distancing policies statewide, DPW employees across Massachusetts have noticed some changes at our local pump stations and in our sewer mains. It is important that we remember what we can and cannot flush down the toilet or pour down the sink in order to keep the city’s sewer system working its best.

The most common things that people pour down their drains and toilets are grease and wipes/paper towels.

It is common for grease to cause issues with sewer pipes. Some people rely on running hot water, garbage disposals or degreaser products to avoid issues. These are not good ways to avoid backups as they are just moving the grease down the sewer lines and into other pipe areas. Remember, the best way to avoid issues with grease is to put it in your compost bin or to store it in wax coated milk, juice or soup containers and properly dispose of them when these containers are full.

three pFinally, an issue that we are seeing with the current pandemic is increased flushing of ‘flushable’ wipe products. While these products advertise that they are safe for your indoor plumbing, they will cause blockages and potentially backups in your home and in sewer mains and pump stations. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority wants us to remember the three Ps – pee, poop and paper. This is what is acceptable to be flushed down your toilet.







We thank you for you cooperation during this unprecedented time.

Please call DPW at 781-665-0142 with any questions.


Because Melrose has a sewer system that is over 100 years old, it means that it is more susceptible to infiltration and inflow or I/I. I/I is the process of clear rainwater and groundwater entering the sanitary sewer system. Infiltration is groundwater that enters sewer pipes through cracks and holes in pipes as well as through faulty joint connections. Inflow is specifically when rainwater and snowmelt enter sewer systems through downspouts, basement drain and sump pumps. The image below illustrates common I/I sources –


With springtime coming, I/I increases as rainfall increases and groundwater rises. Now is the time to check for improper connections at your home between drainage and sanitary sewer systems.

If you have questions, please contact the Melrose Engineering Division at 781-979-4172.

City Yard Closure

Mayor Brodeur has closed the Melrose Department of Public Works City Yard to the general public for in-person visits for the next two weeks, and this period may be extended as circumstances warrant. The City Yard closure includes yard waste drop off, recycling drop off as well as curbside metal pick up until further notice.

Weekly curbside trash, recycling and bulk item pick up will continue as normal.

More information regarding how you can still conduct City business remotely will be available shortly, check out what we have so far here.

Recent Changes in Recycling Information

Our post yesterday brought up a lot of questions regarding milk, juice and soup cartons. Mid to late last year parts of MA began to phase out acceptance of cartons in curbside recycling. This is due to the make-up of these cartons and the types of plants where recycling is processed. They are typically manufactured with paper, plastic, aluminum and a wax coating. Due to the multiple layers of these products that are hard to break down and clog up machines. It is even harder for our local curbside recycle team to try and determine if individual cartons are or are not comprised of these mixed materials while running their daily routes. So, if they see them they’ll leave them.

In order to comply with the newest restrictions and state laws, follow these simple rules:

  1. Recycle all empty glass bottles, tin and aluminum cans, cardboard and paper.
  2. Recycle all empty plastic bottles, jars, jugs and tubs.
  3. Keep food and liquid out of recycling.
  4. Keep plastic bags, bagged recyclables, plastic film and medical waste out of recycling.
  5. Keep all food and beverage paper-based cartons and wax-lined cardboard out of recycling.

Recycling is an ever changing activity as we are constantly working to keep it clean and the most environmentally friendly. It can be hard to keep up, but if you follow our blog and Facebook page we will make every effort to make these changes known.

If you ever wonder about how to recycle something or if something you have is recyclable call us or check out the recyclable materials search engine on recyclesmartma.org


Recycling Bin Contamination Stickers

Starting this week, JRM will be placing contamination stickers (see example below) on any recycling bin with non-recyclable material in it. These contamination stickers will also come with a ‘teachable moments’ tag which provides more information on proper, clean recycling.  You can also check out www.recyclesmartma.com for more information.  If you see a sticker on your bin, here are some of the most common reasons why –

  • Plastics bags
  • Wires
  • Milk, juice or soup cartons (plastics jugs are OK)
  • Styrofoam
  • Textiles (consider joining the Pink Bag program if you have a lot of unused clothing)
  • Cans or jars that are not cleaned out
  • Rigid plastics (like Tupperware or plastic flower pots)
  • Tissues or diapers
  • Potato chip bags
  • Toothpaste tubes

Contamination sticker

The City of Melrose thanks you for your cooperation with keeping recycling clean.

Should have any questions you can contact Sam Flanagan at DPW (781) 665- 0142, ext. 4352

City of Melrose Compost Bin Sale

Buy a compost bin today!

The City of Melrose will begin to sell compost bins today! The bins will be $30 each thanks to a MassDEP grant. The compost bins can be purchased at the DPW facility on 72 Tremont Street via check or cash! We will be selling the bins until Friday, March 13th 2020. The order form can be filled out with purchase at the City Yard. Pick up for the bins will be on Saturday May 16th from 8am – noon at 72 Tremont Street.

Below is some more information on compost bins and the great benefits that they offer!

What does waste look like in the US?

The EPA estimates that there is about 268 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were generated in 2017 alone. This was about 6 million more tons than the year before. This change means that about 4.5 tons of trash was generated per day by each individual person.  Out of the 268 million tons of MSW about 94 million tons were recycled or composted and 140 million tons were sent to the landfill. The graphs below show the breakdowns of what MSW materials are generated in one year and what, of those materials, end up in landfills.



Composting as a viable alternative?

Composting is a great alternative to landfill use for organic products in homes, business or whole cities and towns. It is a controlled process that utilizes the breakdown of organic materials via micro-organisms. Composting uses a simple combination of yard and food waste that is then collected in a compost bin. From the graphs above, it can be seen that food and yard waste represent about 15 and 13% respectively of the general MSW produced and then 22 and 6% of the MSW that ends up in landfills each year. By composting these percentages of waste could be dramatically decreased.

Each year Melrose works with Earth Machine to distribute compost bins throughout the city. Backyard composters are just one of the very important ways that we can all work together to reduce the overall amount of waste as well as some of the environmental impacts related to solid waste.

Earth Machine notes that by composting you can remove about 500lbs of organic matter from your household waste. This diverts it from solid waste collection, landfills or incinerators. Composting works by tapping into an already naturally existing system.

Some of the benefits from composting (both for individual households and the environment) include;

  • Nutrient rich soils for lawns or gardens
  • Overall improves soil texture and soil water holding capacity
  • Reduction of fertilizer or pesticide use
  • Reduction of water bills related to gardening by 30%
  • Reduction of household solid waste by 30%
  • Reduces use of landfills which in turn reduces methane gases
  • Compost based soils help to minimize erosion which can be caused by wind and water run-off
  • Compost, when added to soil, improves the overall structure of the soil which aids in nutrient availability to plants which means plants will grow stronger.
  • Inhibits incidents of plant disease
  • Compost is able to bind and degrade certain pollutants

Thank you so much to anyone who decides to purchase a compost bin! We greatly appreciate your personal efforts to make our city green!

Please call DPW at 781-665-0142 or email sflanagan@cityofmelrose.org with any questions regarding the program.

Melrose – Continue to help our Environment

Rain Barrels: The More You Know

Rain barrels are a wonderful way to show that you care about the environmental health of our Earth as well as our city. Not only do they allow us to store water for use in our gardens, they are also essential when it comes to the cleanliness of stormwater systems in the city.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a system that is used to collect rain water from the roof of a home or building via a gutter and downspout. The downspout is typically cut for rainwater to flow into the barrel that is placed beneath it. The barrels are often made from 55-gallon plastic barrels. The rain that is collected is most commonly used to water gardens or lawns, wash cars, fill small swimming pools or do other household chores.

Why invest in a rain barrel?

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) states four main reasons why rain barrels are a wonderful system for residential homes.

  1. Conserving water : When then summer months come along, the typical outdoor tasks like watering the lawn or garden make up 40% of a households water use. Sometimes seasonal droughts lead to the restriction of water use. Droughts, in addition to increasing water costs, mean that using rain water is more environmentally conscious and cost effective.
  2. Reducing stormwater runoff: If rainwater is not collected, it simply runs off all solid surfaces, like a roof or road pavement, where is will gather pollutants. These pollutants will then end up in local streams, rivers, ponds, lakes or marine waters. If rain water is collected on private properties is does help to reduce the amount of pollution that is picked up during rain storms and is essential to watershed health. Rain water collection also helps to limit the dangers and destruction or erosion.
  3. Water quantity: As little as ¼ an inch of rainfall on a roof will fill and entire rain barrel. A decent rainfall will supply most, if not all, of a private properties rainwater needs. If a rain barrel gets full it can water up to 200 square feet of garden space. An interesting fact about this is that about 1 inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof will yield 623 gallons of water. If you multiply the square footage of your roof by 623 and divide it by 1000 you can determine the water quantity yield at your home.
  4. Water quality: Because rain water is considered to be a soft water it means that it is better for watering plants as well as washing cars and windows. A soft water is water that is free of chemicals like chlorine, fluoride and calcium. These chemicals can typically be found in municipal water sources to keep them clean.

How does it work?

The image below explains how a rain barrel is used.



Melrose DPW will start to sell rain barrels in February! More information about this will be available soon.

For more information or questions in the meantime please contact solid waste and recycling coordinator Sam Flanagan at sflanagan@cityofmelrose.org 


Thank you for your support of this worthwhile program, it is greatly appreciated.