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 textiles 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 by email

For any collection issue, please call our 24-hour Customer Service desk at 519-575-4400.

Thanks to all who participated in the BIG blue box event!

All the boxes were given out on Saturday. More boxes will be available in October. Stay tuned for details.

General information

Residents in single-family homes receive blue box collection. If you live in a multi-unit building, you may have access to our Cart Recycling program.

  • Residents living in single-family homes 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. Note: Starting in March, 2017, this service will be changed to weekly.
  • Trucks begin collecting at 7 a.m. Please have all items to the curb by then on your collection day. 
  • 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.
  • Preparing recyclables correctly helps to ensure the program runs efficiently and prevents litterPlease put "containers" (cans, cartons, bottles and jars) in one blue box, and "paper products and plastic bags" in another blue box. Empty and rinse all food and beverage containers. Put paper (newspaper, flyers, magazines, etc.) in a plastic grocery bag and tie the handles of the bag.
  • Please don't overfill your boxes,
  • Flatten and size corrugated cardboard no larger than 75 x 75 x 20 cm (30 x 30 x 8 inches) and place beside your blue box.

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What items are recyclable? How should items be prepared?

  • Use Waste Whiz to search for information on particular items.
  • Blue Box users: For details on what materials are accepted and how to prepare them, see our brochure.
  • Use this list to help you sort it out and recycle it right.
  • Cart users in Multi-unit buildings: You can recycle the same materials as Blue Box users, but you need to separate the items into different carts. Find out more in our Cart Recycling Brochure.


  • 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" (e.g. metal, plastic and glass food and beverage containers, milk cartons, etc.) and the other for paper products and plastic bags. 
  • Write your address on your blue boxes in permanent marker. This makes it easier for them to be returned if they blow away on a stormy day.
  • To maximize the space in your "containers" blue box, crush plastic bottles and metal cans.
  • 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.

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.

NEW! Don't miss another collection - download My Waste app for free. This app is for homeowners in Waterloo Region with curbside collection. It offers:

  • easy-to-find waste information and
  • a quick set up for set-out reminders for our collection programs.

Download this free app from the App Store or Google Play. Blackberry users can access My Waste functions via Pingstreet, available through Blackberry World. An online version is available, too!

Advertisement for My Waste app

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How to get a blue box:

Using the right type of blue box:

  • Prevents health and safety issues for collection staff (who handle thousands of boxes each day), and
  • Makes sorting recyclables into truck compartments efficient. The recycling trucks have two compartments - one for all containers, and the other for paper products and plastic bags.

This means that 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.

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

  • 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
  • Maximum size for blue boxes used for "containers only" (i.e. cans, cartons, bottles and jars) 68 to 91 litres (18 to 24 gallons)
  • Maximum size for blue boxes used for "paper products and plastic bags" (e.g. newspaper, books, etc.) 45 to 60 litres (12 to 16 gallons)

New homeowners in Waterloo Region: Pick up one free blue box by bringing 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.  

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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 the following recycling programs to apartment buildings and townhouse complexes having six or more units:

  • Townhouse complexes may receive individual blue box collection depending on factors such as layout/access, etc.
  • Sites with dumpsters or priivate garbage collection, may be eligible for the Cart Recycling program, using large roll-out carts. 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.

Photo of girl emptying recycling into large blue cart

If have questions about muliti-residential recycling, please contact Region of Waterloo Waste Management at 519-575-4400 or by email.

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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 by email  

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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?

Image of driver sticker

Image of Uncollected items sticker for townships

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, 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 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 light bulbs are made of materials that are not suited to recycling with 'container' glass. Please donate reusable items or wrap up in layers of newsprint  and 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 75 x 75 x 20 cm (30 x 30 x 8 inches). 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 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"

Photo of Nyle Ludolph

"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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