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Here's a quick reference guide for the rules and guidelines for refuse.

The basics

It is easier to say what should not go into the tan trash cart than what you can put in there. 

What does that leave? Typical household garbage like kitchen scraps, non-recyclable plastics, pet waste, food wrappers, and on and on.

You can also place items like broken hoses, ruined clothes, and small pieces of lumber inside the tan trash cart for disposal.

There is a lot of stuff in our lives that can be trashed - but the less of it we make the better.

additional detailed information about specific items

  1. Building Material from Minor Remodeling Projects
    1. Collection of building material is limited to debris from minor home improvement projects done by the resident - not by contractors.
    2. There is a maximum amount of approximately 240 pounds worth of building materials that will be collected at any given time. To help visualize this, imagine six full trash bags not weighing over 40 pounds. Keep in mind that building material may be placed in your tan refuse cart.
    3. Submit a work order if your project requires large item pickup.
    4. Be sure to follow the guidelines regarding bags of material outside of the collection cart.
    5. Debris from major remodeling, construction projects, or work done by contractors will not be collected. Removal of this material is the property owner's responsibility.
    6. For projects with a value of $20,000 or more, recycling of building material is mandatory. For details, contact the recycling coordinator at 608-267-2626 and/or the Building Inspection department at 608-266-4551.
  2. Yard Waste
    1. Yard waste is banned from the landfill and if it is put into the tan-colored refuse cart, the refuse cart will not be collected.
    2. Yard waste is leaves, grass clippings, plant stalks, flowers, twigs/sticks under 18 inches in length.
    3. Yard waste is collected in the spring and in the fall.
    4. Go to the yard waste website to learn when you can set out yard waste for pickup.
    5. You can also bring yard waste to a drop-off site.
    6. You may also want to consider home composting.
  3. Brush
    1. Carts containing brush will not be collected.
    2. Brush is woody material between 18 inches and 8 feet long.
    3. Go to the brush collection website to get the dates when you should set your brush out for pickup.
    4. You can also bring brush to a drop-off site.
  4. Dog / Cat Waste.
    1. Please double bag pet waste, including cat litter. The outer bag should be sealed and waterrproof.
    2. Place in tan refuse cart
    3. Do not put pet waste in public litter containers. Please dispose of it at your home
  5. Hazardous Materials, Liquid Paint, Flammable Materials, & Other Chemicals
      1. This includes paint, varnish, stains, thinner stripper, drain cleaners, paint remover, pesticides, gasoline, and all hazardous household chemicals. This material will not be collected by the Streets Division
      2. Please contact Dane County Clean Sweep for information regarding this material.
  6. Medication
    1. Medication should be disposed at one of the many Med Drop locations
  7. Medical Needles / Syringes / Lancets or Other Sharps
    1. Streets Division will not collect these items. Do not place them into the carts. Many area pharmacies and clinics dispose of used medical needles for their patients. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they have a program for the proper disposal of medical needles. There are many medical needle disposal sites within the City of Madison.
  8. Ashes, Sawdust, Vacuum Cleaner Dust, Remodeling / Construction dust, etc.
    1. Ashes, Sawdust, Vacuum Cleaner Dust, Remodeling / Construction dust, etc. all pose a health hazard to our operators. To protect them, all material must be double-bagged in sealed weatherproof bags and placed in your tan-colored refuse cart.
    2. Ashes must be cold prior to disposal or the bag may start a fire in the cart or in the truck.
  9. Broken Glass, Mirrors, etc.
    1. Broken Glass, Mirrors, etc .can be placed into your tan-colored refuse cart.
  10. Deer Carcasses & Other Dead Wildlife (like rabbits, or rodents)
    1. Must be double-bagged and placed in the refuse cart.
  11. Explosives / Fireworks / Ammunition
    1. Streets Division will not collect these items. For disposal call the Madison Police Department at (608) 266-4275.
  12. Fluorescent Bulbs / Tubes
    1. Do not place these into your cart. Streets Division will not collect these items.
    2. City and County ordinances require that retailers who sell fluorescent bulbs / tubes take back old lights / tubes from their customers and recycle them. Some may charge a small fee. There are several locations in the area that will accept them
  13. Dried Paint
    1. Cans of dried paint can be placed in your tan refuse cart. If the solid paint can be removed, you may place the solids into your refuse container and recycle the empty can in your green recycling cart.
    2. Empty paint cans, including empty aerosol paint cans can be placed in your green recycling cart.
  14. Waste Motor Oil
    1. Oil recycling drop-offs are provided throughout the city. Many other sites are available throughout Dane County.
  15. Vehicle Batteries (lead acid).
    1. Batteries can be recycled at the City drop off sites.
  16. Contaminated Cardboard Cardboard
    1. Cardboard contaminated by grease, oil, or other contaminants should not be recycled.
    2. For pizza boxes, consider ripping the lid off to recycle that piece while the bottom, food-stained half would be refuse.
    3. Prior to putting it in the tan-colored refuse cart, follow cardboard recycling guidelines. Wet cardboard can be placed in your green recycling cart.
  17. Propane Tanks for Gas Grills (20 lbs)
    1. Completely empty tanks of this size can be taken to the drop-off sites. Valves should be open. These will not be collected curbside.
  18. Propane Canisters for Camp Stoves
    1. Take to Dane County Clean Sweep
      • Why? They're very hard to tell if they are actually empty or not, so our preference is that they go to Clean Sweep
  19. Gas Cans
    1. Can be collected as a large item if a work order is created and the cans are empty and left open at the curb.
    2. Gas and oil/gas mixtures must be taken to Dane County Clean Sweep.
  20. Smoke Detectors
    1. Put in your tan refuse cart. The minute amount of radioactive material does not pose a hazard in the landfill. We cannot recycle smoke detectors.
  21. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    1. You can bring CO2 detectors to our drop off sites and recycle them in our Electronics Recycling Program or you can put them in your tan refuse cart.
  22. Household Batteries (AA, AAA, D, etc.)
    1. Can be recycled at the city drop off sites. Details and other options for drop off can be found on the battery recycling page.
    2. Rechargeable batteries can be recycled at any Home Depot, or Batteries and Bulbs locations, and other locations using Call2Recycle boxes
  23. Dirt, Rocks, Concrete, Bricks, and other Fill Material
    1. Not accepted by the Streets Division. Disposal options can be found on the dirt webpage.
Revised: July 2023