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Pile to cardboard that is too big for the green recycling cart

Cardboard should go into the recycling cart.  But what about big boxes that won't fit? Or if you have more that can fit inside?

The Streets Division provides two options for the excess cardboard.


OPTION ONE: load it up and bring it DOWN

Step one - empty your boxes. The Styrofoam sheets and most other packaging within boxes cannot be recycled.

City of Madison residents and taxpayers can bring all the cardboard that does not fit into their recycling cart to one of the drop-off sites.

The drop-off sites hours change seasonally, so be sure they are open before loading your vehicle and arriving at the site.

All drop-off site restrictions apply.


If you follow the below steps, the Streets Division crews will collect excess cardboard at the curb on your scheduled recycling day.

NOTE: Know the weather before setting excess cardboard. Rain and snow will damage cardboard and could prevent it from being recycled, and high winds could blow it away.

Step 1: Empty & flatten all the boxes that do not fit into the cart. Do not place flattened boxes into a larger box.

Step 2: If necessary, cut or fold the excess cardboard down into roughly 3' x 3' squares.

Step 3: Bundle all the loose cardboard together using string or twine. The bundles should not be taller than 6 inches.

Step 4: Place the cardboard out to the curb for recycling collection in one of the following ways:

A) If it is only a small amount of excess and the lid will be able to stay closed, place the cardboard under the lid of the cart like this:

Excess cardboard cut to 3 foot by 3 foot squares and bound with twine and place under the lid of the recycling cart


B) If it is too much where the lid on the cart will not stay down to pinch the cardboard, stack it next to the recycling cart like this:

Stack of excess cardboard cut down to 3 foot by 3 foot squares, bundled with twine, and neatly stacked next to the recycling cart


Cardboard set out differently than detailed above may not be collected.

These guidelines are in place because Streets Division operators will need to collect the cardboard outside the cart by hand in many cases. The bundles of cardboard must be easily manageable so the operator can exit their truck then safely lift the bundles in order to get them into the recycling truck.

Other options

Recycling cardboard is easy. But there are other options.

Perhaps donating boxes to a church or community organization or thrift store or private box exchange.  Social media groups are a good place to share boxes. There's also a website called BoxGiver.

Community centers, schools, or libraries may need them for art projects. Maybe even post to your neighborhood's social media pages to see if anyone needs boxes for a move or a project. With a little creativity and detective work, you may be able to find an alternate way to reuse or recycle them.




(608)246-4532 if you live east of S. Park Street (and that includes the isthmus)


(608)266-4681 if you live west of S. Park Street.

You can email us.