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Blue Box & Blue and Grey Cart Recycling programs

Recycling is a proud tradition in Waterloo Region. The first ever Blue Box program started in Kitchener in 1983 and now millions all over the world are recycling! (Learn about the interesting history of the blue box and the ingenuity of Mr. Nyle Ludolph, below.)

Below is also recycling information for residents in single family homes who use blue boxes, and for residents in multi-unit dwellings who use large recycling carts. Plus there's information for schools.

If you want to recycle beyond the blue box, check out "Other recycling programs" - everything from bicycles to paint to pallets can be recycled! .   

If you cannot find the recycling information you are looking for, please contact  Region of Waterloo Waste Management at 519-575-4400 or e-mail


What's new in blue? More plastic bags plus outer wrap!

Recent advances in technology have opened new opportunities for recycling more types of plastic bags plus plastic outer wrap. 

What is recyclable?

  • Bags from bread, fresh and frozen vegetables, softener salt, newspapers, and dry cleaning.

  • Outer wrap includes the plastic wrap on packages of diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, and cases of soft drink or juice.

How do I recycle this material?

  • Empty

  • Put all bags and outer wrap in one bag. Tie the bag closed.

  • Place this bag in with your newspaper if you use a blue box, or in the grey "paper products" cart if you are participating in the Region's Blue and Grey Cart program.

 Small image of poster

See this flyer for details.

What is not recyclable? Plastic bags and outer wrap that contain mixed plastics and have many layers, and/or have been in contact with meat or cheese. These types of plastic bags include 'zipper' bags, stand-up pouches, cling wrap, bags that crinkle such as from pasta and snack food.

Blue Box program for residents

Using the right type of recycling container helps prevent health and safety issues for collection staff (who handle thousands of boxes each day), and makes sorting recyclables into truck compartments efficient. So, recyclables set out in wheeled carts, laundry hampers, storage totes, large blue plastic "recycling" bags, large clear or opaque bags, and cardboard boxes will not be collected at single family homes.

How to get a blue box:

Replacement and additional recycling boxes: Please purchase replacement and additional recycling boxes with the following features from local retailers:

  • No taller than 40 cm (16 inches)
  • Rigid plastic which does not bend or give when lifted
  • A rim around the top of the container so the driver can lift it and hook it on the side of the truck for sorting

New homeowners in Waterloo Region: Pick up one free blue box. Please bring an unaltered copy of your deed or purchase agreement (dated within the last 12 months) to either the Cambridge (201 Savage Drive) or Waterloo (925 Erb Street West., Gate 1) Waste Management Administration Building from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tenants/renters: Contact your landlord/property manager about recycling containers.  


  • Use two blue boxes: Since there are so many items you can recycle, try to have at least two blue boxes. Use one for all of the "containers" (i.e. metal, plastic and glass containers, paper milk or juice cartons, dry paint cans (no lids), empty aerosol cans) and the other for paper and plastic bags.
  • Write your address on your blue boxes in permanent marker.
  • Recycle broken blue boxes: Please drop off broken boxes to either the Cambridge (201 Savage Drive) or Waterloo (925 Erb Street West, Gate 1) waste management sites.


Collection schedule:

  • Most residents receive weekly blue box collection. Residents living in Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and in settlement areas in all four Townships can set out blue boxes every week on their collection day.
  • Residents living outside of the Township settlement areas receive collection every other week. Please check your township calendar for more information.

Regular collection runs on all statutory holidays except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Collection will be delayed one day for the remainder of the week following these two statutory holidays.

TIP! Trucks begin collecting at 7 a.m. Please have all items to the curb by then on your collection day. 

Recycling programs for apartment buildings and townhouse complexes

Under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act, Regulation 103/94, recycling is mandatory at multi-residential buildings having six or more units.

The Region of Waterloo offers recycling programs to apartment buildings and townhouse complexes having six or more units.

Eligible townhouse complexes may receive individual blue box collection. However, for sites with dumpsters, the Cart Recycling program, using large roll-out carts, would be offered. Please refer to the Cart Recycling Handbook or Cart Recycling brochure for details about how that program works.


Eligible buildings are provided with recycling containers, promotional materials, and weekly collection service, at no charge.

If you want to join the recycling program, please contact Region of Waterloo Waste Management at 519-575-4400 or e-mail

What happens to it? Recyclables are taken to the Nyle Ludolph Materials Recycling Centre located at 925 Erb Street West, Waterloo. Every year, over 35,000 metric tonnes of recyclables are sorted and sold to recycling markets.

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Cart Recycling program for schools

Schools in Waterloo Region are eligible for the Cart Recycling program. Schools are provided with large roll-out carts (limits apply), and weekly collection service, at no charge. This program collects the same materials as the Blue Box program.

Free downloadable posters are available in PDF format:

Interested in getting on the Cart Recycling program for schools? Please contact Region of Waterloo Waste Management at 519-575-4400 or e-mail   

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What items are recyclable?

  • Check out Waste Whiz to search for an item and for tips on how to make sure your blue box gets picked up each and every time.
  • Cart users: You can recycle the same materials as Blue Box users, but you need to separate the items into different carts. Find out more in Cart Recycling Brochure.

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Collection issues for Blue Box users - when items are left behind and how to deal with them:

There are a number of reasons why things are left behind, including by-law requirements and health and safety concerns.

Were items left in your blue box? Did collection staff leave one of these stickers in your box?

Blue Box driver sticker.jpg


If so, below is some information which can help identify why items were left behind and how you can deal with the items.

Here are some common reasons why items are left behind:

Here are some ways to deal with the items left behind:

Item is not acceptable in our program, such as Styrofoam, plastic toys, bagged containers, ceramic mug, drinking glass, incandescent light bulbs. These types of items either are not acceptable to recycling markets and/or create processing difficulties.

Recycle packaging Styrofoam (large bulky pieces - no food grade or small packing chips) at the Cambridge (201 Savage Drive) or Waterloo (925 Erb Street West, Gate 2) waste management sites. Fees may apply.

Donate reusable items like toys to family, friends, or local charities.

Unbag the glass, metal, or plastic food and beverage containers and place in your blue box loose for next week's collection.

Ceramic mugs, drinking glasses and incandescent light bulbs are made of materials that are not suited to recycling with 'container' glass. Please donate reusable items or place in garbage.

Item presents a health and safety concern to the driver - such as broken glass, broken dishware.Please wrap broken glass in several layers of newspaper, tape it closed and place in garbage can/bag, or place in a corrugated cardboard box, tape shut, label as "broken glass" and place alongside your garbage next week.
Recycling has not been properly prepared, such as unflattened cardboard, filled food containers, overweight blue boxes.

Please ensure large cardboard boxes are flattened, sized and bundled no larger than 30 x 30 x 8 inches (75 x 75 x 20 cm). Boxes larger than this cannot fit into the recycling truck.

Empty food into your green bin, rinse the container, and place in your blue box for next week's collection.

Blue boxes should weigh no more than 23 kg (50 lbs).

Item is banned and is not allowed due to by-law requirements. Includes materials considered to be household hazardous waste (compact fluorescent light bulbs, paint, unemptied aerosol cans, etc.)Take household hazardous waste to appropriate Regional facilities or to local businesses. Check out the information available on our website.
Recycling has not been set out in a proper location (such as on top of a snowbank) or in a proper container (such as a cardboard box or oversized blue box).

Place your recycling in a spot at the end of your driveway so that it can be easily seen and reached by collection staff. Do not place recycling on top of or behind snowbanks or behind cars parked along the curb.

Use the proper size of recycling box (see above) so that collection staff can pick it up and sort it efficiently. Since cardboard boxes can get wet and tear, they are not appropriate containers.

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Our proud Blue Box program history: Nyle Ludolph, "Father of the Blue Box"


"What's happened has surpassed my wildest dreams. I'm so proud I was allowed to be in the right place at the right time - to feel I had some impact." October, 1993

Nyle Ludolph has been credited with developing the world's very first residential recycling program in 1983 for Kitchener, Ontario.


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