How to navigate the new rules for old mattresses in the Boston area

Two men walk a mattress along Commonwealth Ave. on move out day. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Two men walk a mattress along Commonwealth Ave. on move out day. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

It’s move-in week across the Boston area — and also move-out week. As Sept. 1 approaches, there’s a new rule to know, especially if your current mattress isn’t making it into that third-floor walk-up.

Curbing mattress waste: Local officials have never been huge fans of people leaving their used mattresses out on the curb for trash pickup (most are recyclable) or for others to take (bedbugs, yuck). But under new state rules that took effect last November, mattress recycling is now the law of the land. That means you’re not allowed to leave your old, unwanted mattress out for weekly trash pickup. For most Boston-area residents, you’ll have to schedule an appointment to get your mattress picked up and taken to a recycling center.

  • What will they recycle for me? Basically all sizes and types of mattress types — including memory foam, spring, hybrid and latex. All box springs, too. (Airbeds depend on the city, but both Boston and Cambridge will take them.)
  • What they won’t take: No futons or mattress toppers, please. Those can still be put out with the trash.
  • How does the process work? Boston offers free, appointment-based mattress pickup for all residents living in a building with six units or less. Just call 311 (or 617-635-4500) to schedule pickup. (More details on the process here.) Cambridge and Somerville also offer free mattress pickup services, while Brookline charges a $55 fee per mattress or box spring.
  • What if I live in a bigger Boston apartment building? The city suggests checking with your building manager. They also have a list of private mattress recyclers.
  • How will me mattress be reused? Officials say around 70% to 90% of your mattress can be recycled. At the recycling center, crews will deconstruct the parts, which will be used to make stuff like insulation, carpet padding, mulch, and new metal items.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is expected to file an ordinance this week to give city police more power to remove tent encampments from the area known as “Mass. and Cass.” The proposal — which requires approval from the City Council — is part of Wu’s new plan to deal with homelessness, violence and drug use in the area. If passed, Wu said the changes could take as long as two months to be implemented.

  • Meanwhile, Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson said she was mugged this weekend while observing conditions at a tent encampment in the Mass. and Cass area. According to the Boston Globe, Anderson said a man “charged” her and took her cell phone while she was taking pictures Saturday night. (Anderson, who was uninjured and eventually got the phone back, said she was there to do research ahead of the vote on Wu’s ordinance.)
  • Tune in: Wu was on Radio Boston immediately after unveiling the Mass. and Cass plan Friday to discuss the change in approach, which also includes 30 additional shelter beds. Listen to the full interview (or read the highlights) here.

Time is running out on the MBTA perk that lets riders flash their CharlieCard to use the commuter rail for free from certain Boston-area stations. MBTA officials say that this Thursday will be the last day that riders can take advantage of the benefit. Starting Friday, they’ll have to pay commuter rail fares as normal.

  • The MBTA rolled out the perk in March to give riders an alternative to the widespread slow zones that have since plagued the system. However, a T spokesperson said they’re ending it as part of the larger shift back to normal fares Friday when the Sumner Tunnel reopens — even though slow zones persist across more than a quarter of the MBTA subway system.
  • What else changes Friday: When the Sumner reopens, the Blue Line and East Boston ferry will no longer be free, and prices for the Lynn and Winthrop ferries will go up from $2.40 to $7 and $6.50, respectively.
  • But there is some positive news for MBTA riders: Under the new fall schedules starting this week, the average weekday wait times on the Orange and Red Lines are going down by a minute or two.

PSA: Don’t go to ChatGPT for information on cancer treatment. That’s the big takeaway from a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. WBUR’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey reports that the study found ChatGPT’s answers were often incorrect when asked questions like “What is the treatment for breast cancer?”

  • Remember, while ChatGPT may sound increasingly fluent on the topic, researchers say patients should always consult with (real, human) medical experts for their treatment options.

P.S.— Speaking of move-in week, make sure to check out our moving-to-Boston checklist if you’re new to the city — and then sign up for our soon-to-launch newsletter with an easy-to-follow series of guides to everything Boston newcomers need to know. (If you’re someone who’s already settled in, consider forwarding this email to a new-to-Boston friend, family member or colleague who could use the free tips!)


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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