Skip to main content

Reference guide

Here's a quick reference guide for the rules and guidelines for using your collection cart.

Using your recycling collection cart

Mandatory Recycling


Collection Schedule


All Recycling Must Be Inside the City-Provided Green-Colored Recycling Cart

  • The owner or occupant of each residence must use the city-provided green-colored recycling cart for their household recycling.
  • All household recycling must be placed inside the green-colored refuse cart.
    • Refuse items, yard waste, brush, and other hazardous materials are banned from the recycling cart.
    • If you have more recycling than can fit into the cart, take the excess to a drop-off site or contact the Streets Division for advice.
  • Recycling carts must be put out for collection prior to 6:30am on the scheduled day. Late set outs will not be collected until your next scheduled collection day.
  • City ordinance states that no cart shall be placed at the curb edge more than 12 hours before collection day. They must be removed from the curb within 24 hours after the date of collection.
  • The weight of the cart should not exceed 100 pounds to prevent the cart from falling into the collection truck.
  • The lids of recycling carts should be closed when placed out for collection to protect the material inside from precipitation.
  • Most recyclables inside the cart should not be bagged.
  • All recyclables should be clean of debris and dry.


Placement of Recycling Cart

  • Always place your cart so that the white serial numbers are facing the street. This places the lid opening in the proper position for emptying.
  • Place your cart at the curb edge in your driveway apron or next to it so that it is four (4) feet away from obstacles such as parked cars, mailboxes, and utility poles.
  • Carts should be side-by-side with adequate space between carts. Please do not stack one behind the other.
  • Avoid placing collection carts in the street gutter. Carts in the street interfere with traffic, street sweeping and snow plowing.
    • If you live in the Clean Streets/Clean Lakes special street sweeping zone, never place your cart in the gutter on days when sweeping is scheduled.
    • In some neighborhoods, due to how heavily parked in they are during collection, carts placed in the street gutter to ensure collection is acceptable, but it is far from ideal.  Carts are still obstructions to other city services and should be moved soon after emptying.
    • If your cart is placed in the street, operators may empty the carts and place them out of the roadway, such as on the terrace or in the driveway apron so they are no longer an obstruction.
  • When possible, place the recycling cart on the opposite side of your driveway from the trash cart so there is ample space between the two, and the collection operator can clearly see each cart.
  • Improperly placed carts will not be collected.
  • When carts are not in use, they must be stored in accordance with city ordinance. Building Inspection is the agency tasked with enforcing the codes related to cart placement and storage. They can be contacted at 608-266-4551 if there are questions.


  • Winter Placement

    Carts in the street are an obstruction. Trash & recycling collectors will move the carts out of the streets, which is likely to be in driveway aprons.

        • The best placement is on either side of your driveway after you have cleared it of snow.
        • It can also be placed on a cleared area of your terrace.
        • Do not leave your cart on the sidewalk or on top of a snow bank.
  • Alley Placement
    • Carts must be placed at the alley edge.
    • Carts on private property or by the garage will not be collected.
    • When storing carts outside in the alley, please leave the lid closed. If your cart is missing a lid, please contact the Street Division offices that service your neighborhood to request it be repaired.


Damaged/Lost/Missing Carts

What do you put into the recycling cart?

Now that you know how to use the cart itself, it's time to learn what can go into the collection cart.

What happens to your recycling?

Watch a video about the Pellitteri Waste Systems recycling facility sorts everything you have placed into the recycling carts.

what do i do if I have more recycling than fits into the cart?

Trading in a smaller recycling cart for a larger one is free. Use the online form or contact us to get on the exchange schedule.

Madison residents can also take excess drop-off sites.

Extra recycling can also be collected at the curb if you follow the below rules rules.