Trash Barrel Requirements for Melrose Residents



The Melrose City Council passed an update to the City ordinance regarding residential trash receptacles. The ordinance now reads as follows:

Residential refuse receptacles shall be watertight with tight-fitting covers of a durable rodent-proof material. A sufficient number of receptacles shall be provided by property owners or their agent(s) so as to adequately contain the amount of refuse produced at each property. Receptacles shall be no larger fifty (50) gallons.

Receptacles shall be tightly covered whenever refuse of any amount is contained therein, have it be on private property, a private way, or a public sidewalk. Refuse shall be stored in receptacles as described in this section except for material which may be placed at curbside under city-sponsored source reduction and/or source separation collection programs in accordance with the guidelines of such programs. 

Each residence is allowed to dispose of one bulky item per week in curbside trash pickup, which is not required to be contained in a receptacle.

Refuse receptacles shall be placed at the curb by 7:00 a.m. on the scheduled collection day, but not prior to 5 p.m. the preceding day, and shall be removed from the sidewalk within twelve (12) hours after collection.

What this change means is that all your trash must be placed in a barrel with a lid, not just left out in a bag. The City Council set the enforcement date of March 1, 2022 for these new regulations.

In order to support residents in preparing for this change, the City of Melrose Department of Public Works has provided the following guidance:

  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about trash barrels, see below.
  • Examples of barrel types that would be considered compliant (see images below)
  • Reuse your old barrels for lawn waste or recycling
  • Next opportunity to Recycle your old barrel if you can’t find a use for it: Rigid Plastic Recycling Event at the City Yard, 72 Tremont Street: SATURDAY, October 15, 2022

                                     Photo of five different trash barrels with lids

Please follow these trash management best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: When does the new trash barrel ordinance take effect?

A: The City Council set the enforcement date of March 1, 2022 for these new regulations.

Q: How do I sign up for curbside organics pickup?

A: There are several curbside organics pickup vendors who service Melrose by private subscription. Please see for more information.

Q: Why doesn’t Melrose have automated trash pickup?

A: Melrose is currently under contract with JRM Hauling and Recycling with very competitive pricing. At this time, automated pickup is not part of our contract. Our contract ends in June 2024.

Q: How can I prevent my trash barrel from blowing down the street after being emptied on windy days?

A: Square barrels tend to stay put in the wind, even if they blow over. Round barrels are more likely to roll. Consider using a square barrel.

Q: What are the size restrictions on recycling containers?

A: Recycling containers should be 50 gallons or less and 45 pounds or less to prevent recycling worker injury.

Q: Are lids required on recycling containers?

A: Lids are not required on recycling containers, but every effort should be made to prevent the contents of your recycling container from blowing around in the wind or the paper and/or cardboard from getting wet in the rain.

Q: My trash barrel and lid were damaged when the trash hauler mistreated/misplaced them. What should I do? 

A: Please submit a complaint with details of what happened, including pictures or video, and a request for reimbursement to JRM, in one of the following ways:

  1. chat messaging service on their website:
  2. contact form:
  3. email:
  4. phone: 800-323-HAUL

Q: I have a barrel with no lid, should I just throw it away?

A: 1) Try to buy/find a replacement lid

2) If not, you may use your old barrel for recycling or yard waste if it is properly labeled. We have stickers for this purpose at the office at the City Yard (72 Tremont Street), available for free, Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 3:30 pm.

3) If you don’t need to use one of your old barrels for recycling or yard waste, ask around your neighborhood to see if anyone would like it, or post on a free site for giveaway. Maybe a local landscaping or construction contractor would be interested?

4) If your old barrel is unusable, another option to consider is the DPW Rigid Plastic Collection Event on Saturday, October 15, 2022.  

Q: Are we allowed to put dry, non-food waste out in a bag?

A: No, trash must be contained within barrels that are covered with lids.

Q: Are we allowed to put our trash out in a bag if we put it out the morning of pickup, but not the night before?

A: No, trash must be contained within barrels that are covered with lids.

Q: I leave the lid open on my trash barrel to make it easier for the haulers to get the bags out. Am I not allowed to do this anymore?

A: No, trash must be contained within barrels that are covered with lids.

Q: My trash normally fits in one barrel, but occasionally I have some extra. Do I have to buy a second barrel to use only a few weeks of the year?

A: You may buy an extra barrel, or you may save your dry, non-food trash for the following week when you have more space. We recommend that you plan accordingly.

Q: Do I need to purchase a new recycling container with a lid?

A: Recycling containers are not a part of this new ordinance, so you may continue to use the same container, as long as it does not exceed the size limit for manual disposal at the curb. If your recycling container does not have a lid, please cover it in wet or windy weather to prevent recyclables from getting wet or becoming litter in your neighborhood.

For questions, please email or call the DPW at (781) 665-0142.