Green Bin and Green Cart organics programs

Recycling is a proud tradition in Waterloo Region. After all, the first Blue Box was created here 30 years ago! We are excellent recyclers here. So, let's do it again with the green bin! At least 50 per cent of residential "garbage" is actually organic and can be composted locally.

Below are details and resources to help residents and schools "Green Bin that!"

If you cannot find the Green Bin program information you are looking for, please contact Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4400 or by e-mail.  

Note: Collection services will be changing and rural residents in the Townships will receive green bin collection in March, 2017.  

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

General information

How-to guides


General information

What are household organics?

It includes all food scraps, some paper products (e.g. paper plates, paper towels and facial tissue), pet waste, hair and more. Here's the full list of items you can recycle using your green bin.

Backyard composting is still a part of 'green' households. If you are composting your fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds and yard waste in your backyard, keep up the good work! Use the green bin for items for items that should not be composted in your backyard such as meat, bones and dairy products.

What happens to it? Green bin organics are trucked to Guelph for composting. Some of the compost is used by local farmers to grow more food.

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How to get a bin

Please use only Region-approved green bins. 

Pick up a free replacement* or additional green bin at either the Cambridge (201 Savage Drive), Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 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.

*If your green bin is broken, please bring it when you pick up your replacement. We can recycle it!

If you have recently moved to the Region, you are eligible for a Green Bin kit that includes a kitchen container.

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Setting up your green bin 

  1. Place a container in the kitchen in a handy spot, such as on the kitchen counter. Put containers or paper bags in each bathroom.
  2. Set your green bin in a convenient, well-ventilated, shady area, like the garage, and write your address on it in permanent marker.
  3. Place a paper egg carton or balled up newsprint in the bottom of your green bin so contents do not get stuck.
  4. Post information about green bin recycling on your bulletin board or put our Green Bin program magnet on your fridge. (If you need copies of these materials, please call 519-575-4400.)
  5. Discuss green bin recycling with your family.

Now, it's time to recycle!

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How to green bin - suggestions and resources!

  • Line your kitchen container or your green bin. Using liners helps to keep your bins cleaner and easier to empty.
  • If you want to use plastic liner bags, make sure they are certified compostable. This is the only type of plastic allowed.
  • Layer food waste between paper waste to help absorb liquids, reduce odours, and help ensure everything empties out on collection day.
  • When you "spring clean" your pantry, empty the expired food into your green bin. Recycle all acceptable packaging in the blue box.
  • Clean out your fridge and freezer/place spoiled food in your green bin just before collection.
  • Consider freezing meat/bones in paper bags and place in your green bin on your collection day.
  • Use natural deodorizers such as baking soda or white vinegar.
  • Wash containers on a regular basis.
  • Replace your bins if they are cracked or broken.
  • When preparing food, place a couple of sheets of newsprint on the counter, add food scraps, roll up, and toss in your green bin.
  • For fruit flies, spray bin with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water.
  • Set your green bin out every week, even if it is not full. This will help prevent odours and the contents sticking to the bin.


  1. Pest prevention and control
  2. Managing pet waste in your home
  3. Lining your container - the Choice is Yours!
  4. Frequently asked questions about the Green Bin program
  5. Frequently asked questions about  certified compostable plastic
  6. Reminders and information at your fingertips:  Download My Waste app for free.  An online version is available, too!

Advertisement for My Waste app


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Collection instructions:

  1. Don't overfill your green bin. The maximum weight limit is 23 kilograms (50 pounds).
  2. Ensure your green bin is safe for the collector to empty. Pet waste and cold wood ashes must be bagged (paper or certified compostable bags) or buried.
  3. Prepare your organics correctly. Remove all packaging from spoiled food, and use the correct liner bags. Green bins with grocery bags, plastic cutlery and other unacceptable items will not be emptied

Image of egg carton placed inside the bottom of a green cart

4.      Set out your green bin by 7 a.m. on your collection day.

5.      Only set your green bin to the curb, not your kitchen container.

6.      Ensure organics easily empty out by placing crumpled balls of newspaper, a paper egg carton or a paper takeout drink tray at the bottom of your green bin.

Thank you for green binning. Your efforts make a difference!

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Seasonal and holiday tips

With these tips, you can be "green" all year long in any type of weather and during the holidays, too!

Cold weather

Prevent freezing

  • Grease the inside of your green bin with vegetable oil.
  • Do not set out your green bin the night before collection. Instead, set it out by 7 a.m. on your collection day to lessen the chances of it completely freezing.
  • If you use a green bin liner bag, loosen it from the sides of the bin when you set it out for collection.
  • When it snows, place your green bin at street level by shoveling a flat area close to the curb at the end of your driveway.

Hot weather

Prevent odours, pests

  • Cover the food scraps with a layer of paper waste (e.g. shredded paper, facial tissues, etc.)
  • Deter flies by smearing citronella, an essential oil, on the outside rim of your containers
  • Use natural deodorizers such as baking soda and white vinegar
  • Do not use pesticides

 Parties and other celebrations

  • Plan your party so that you minimize waste. For instance, if you are not using reusable dishware and napkins, use paper ones since they can go into the green bin.
  • Whether it's a family barbeque, birthday party, or another celebration, invite the green bin! Set it out, along with your blue box and garbage can to make an "eco-depot" - an easy-to-use sorting station for you and your guests.
  • Recycle your pumpkin. Remove candles and any decorations, and put it on top of or beside your green bin.
  • Green bin greenery from wreaths. Remove any wire and decorations.
  • If your celebration produces more organics than your green bin holds, put the organics in an acceptable liner bag, and place on top of your green bin. (If you have extra organics on a regular basis though, please pick up an extra green bin.)  


You fill me up Valentine Jack o'lantern Christmas paper plates and napkins

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Green bin that! 

The same items are accepted in both green bins and green carts.
Acceptable items
Baked goods e.g. bread, cakes, cookies
Baking and cooking ingredients, dough
Butter & margarine
Certified compostable plastic liners bags
Coffee filters, grounds
Corn cobs, husks
Cotton balls
Cotton swabs having a rolled paper or wooden rod
Cooking oil (maximum one cup)(Drop off larger quantities for recycling.)
Dairy products e.g. cheese, sour cream, yogurt
Eggs, eggshells
Facial tissues
Fish, fish parts
Flowers (cut), bouquets
Grains & rice
Gravy & sauces
Grease, lard, fat
Greenery from wreaths
Herbs & spices
Houseplant waste
Jams & jellies
Meat, meat products, bones
Muffin/baking cups (paper)
Nail clippings
Nuts & shells
Paper bags e.g. fast food packaging, flour bags, microwave popcorn bags
Paper plates, napkins
Peanut butter
Pencil shavings
Pet waste (including bedding, droppings, kitty litter)- must be bagged or wrapped in paper)
Pizza boxes
Play dough (homemade)
Popsicle sticks
Salad & dressings
Shredded paper
Snack foods
Sugar & sweetener packets
Sugar & syrups
Tea bags (except Lipton pyramid tea bags)
Toothpicks (wood)
Vegetables - including waxed vegetables such as rutabaga)
Wood ashes (cold)
Wood chips 

Do not green bin these

Aluminum foil

Baby wipes
Batteries, paint & other hazardous waste
Chewing gum
Cigarette butts & ashes
Cleaning sponges and wipes
Cutlery (metal, plastic)
Dental floss/tape, toothbrushes
Dryer lint
Dryer sheets

Metal - (anything in part or as a whole is made of metal)
Paper coffee cups

Paper towels containing hazardous/cleaning products
Plastic bags- grocery/retail plastic bags, oxo-degradable or "biodegradable" bags

Plastic containers, plastic wrap, plastic cutlery, plastic packets of ketchup, relish, etc.

Plastic mesh tea bags (e.g. Lipton Pyramid Tea)
Sanitary products - (personal)
Vacuum sweepings/ household dirt
Water softener salt
Wax, Waxed paper
Wood, treated wood
Recyclables - place in blue box
Yard Waste - compost in back yard, set out during seasonal pick up, or bring to transfer station

Lining your green bin containers 

Lining your green bin and kitchen container is not required, but is recommended since it helps to keep your containers cleaner and easier to empty out. If you choose not to line your containers, consider other alternatives such as adding a layer of shredded paper or facial tissues in between layers of food scraps.

If you want to line line your containers, you have choices:

  1. Do-it-yourself liners:

Illustration of process for making an origami liner from newspaper

(a) Use any paper bag such as from take-out food, or flour bags. These types of bags work well for your smaller kitchen container. When you shop, ask if the store has a paper bag option!

(b)  Make your own liners out of newspaper

(c)  Use boxboard (e.g., unlined cereal or cracker boxes) or corrugated cardboard to line your organic containers.

2.      Purchase liner bags: Many local stores, including grocery stores and hardware stores sell the two types of liner bags that are acceptable in our program. Look for them in the "garbage bag" section.

CAUTION! Not all stores carry the correct types of liner bags.

Paper liner bags: These are easy to identify and compost quickly. Some paper bags have a shiny cellulose lining to give them more wet strength and are safe to use in our program. Paper bags do not need the certification logos on them. Your green bin kit originally came supplied with a bundle of Bag to Earth Kraft paper bags. Learn more about Bag to Earth.

Certified compostable plastic liner bags: If you choose to use certified compostable plastic liner bags, they must have at least one of these logos:

 Image of Canadian Certified Compostable logo  Image of US Certified Compostable logo

If you can't find a certified compostable logo, do not buy it and do not use it for green bin organics since it will not be collected. 

Tips for using certified compostable plastic liners:  

  • Please do not double bag.
  • Roll or twist the top of the bag; avoid knots. Knots do not compost well.
  • Place the logo so it is visible, if possible. This helps collection staff know that it is the correct plastic.

For more information about lining your green bin containers, download our flyer.


  • Plastic cutlery, plastic plates, plastic cups, sandwich bags, and other plastic items are not acceptable, even if they have the certified compostable logos.
  • There is no change to the yard waste program; bags have to be paper. 
Image of green bin lined with Certified Compostable liner  Image of green bin lined with paper liner bag 

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Collection issues for green bin 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. Was your green bin left behind with one of these stickers?

Image of Uncollected items sticker for Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo

Image of Uncollected items sticker for townships

If so, below is some information which can help identify why it was left behind and how you can handle with it.

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

Item does not compost and is not acceptable, such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, candles in jack o'lanterns, metal, utensils, cigarette butts.

Remove the unacceptable items and set out your green bin on your next collection day.

The only plastic that is acceptable is certified compostable plastic liner bags.

Item belongs in a different program, such as yard waste, food containers.

Yard waste is composted at a different facility than green bin organics. Set out yard waste according to the seasonal, every-other-week collection schedule.

Empty food into the green bin, rinse containers, and then place loose into your blue box. 

Item presents a health and safety concern to the driver, such as diapers, pet waste, hot ashes or charcoal.

Diapers are not accepted in the Green Bin program. Please place in the garbage.

Collection staff must not be exposed to pet waste. Please put pet waste in paper bags before placing it in your green bin. For more information, check out our pet waste management section.

Only place cold ashes and cold charcoal in the green bin. Bury these between layers of food waste so collection staff is not exposed to dust.

Green bin has not been properly prepared, such as, green bin is too heavy, incorrect container has been set out.

Green bins should weigh no more than 23 kg (50 lbs). If you need an additional green bin, please pick one up at a Regional facility.

Only Region-issued green bins should be set out for collection. Kitchen containers and other containers will not be emptied.

Green bin was set out late.

Collection begins at 7 a.m. so all containers must be set out by then to guarantee collection.

Not eligible for Green Bin program collection

Currently, only single family homes (having six or fewer units), townhouse complexes receiving individual garbage collection by the Region of Waterloo, and homes in the settlement areas of the Townships, receive green bin collection. If you live in a rural area of a Township, your green bin may not be collected - call us at 519-575-4400 to check. (Note: Collection services will be changing and rural residents will receive green bin collection in March, 2017.)  

Large apartment buildings and townhouse complexes which are ineligible for the Region's program, could consider contracting the services of a local hauler.

If you do not currently receive green bin collection, please consider dropping off organics at the Cambridge or Waterloo transfer station. Fees will apply.

Item is banned and is not allowed due to by-law requirements. Includes grass, materials considered to be household hazardous waste.

Leave grass on your lawn, compost it in your backyard, set it out for yard waste collection or drop it off at a Regional facility (fees will apply). See this flyer for details.

Take household hazardous waste to a local business or a Regional facility. Check out the information available on our website.

Green bin has not been set out in a proper location, such as on top of a snow bank.

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

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Managing pet waste in your home

Pet waste including animal droppings and kitty litter can be added to your green bin.

To ensure the health and safety of your collection staff, please:

  • Wrap pet waste in newspaper or paper toweling, or
  • Put in a paper bag, or
  • Place in certified compostable plastic (CCP) pet waste bag. These types of bags must have one of the following logos:
 Image of Canadian Certified Compostable logo  Image of US Certified Compostable logo

Preparing pet waste in one of these ways should help reduce any pests and odours, too!

Where are CCP pet waste bags sold?  Staff visited some stores recently and found CCP pet waste bags at:

  • CB Pet Food and Supplies, 1335 Weber Street East, Kitchener
  • Global Pet Foods, 669 Belmont Avenue, Kitchener
  • Global Pet Foods, 450 Columbia Street West, Waterloo
  • Global Pet Foods, 425 University Avenue East, Waterloo
  • Pet Shop, 600 Doon Village Road, Kitchener
  • Pet Valu, 315 Arthur Street, Elmira
  • Pet Valu, 1005 Ottawa Street North, Kitchener
  • Town Barker, 1220 Queen's Bush Road, Wellesley

We didn't visit every store in the Region, so if you find CCP pet waste bags at another store, please let us know, and we'll add it to the list.

Beware! There are other bags that look like CCP bags, but are not acceptable. Generally, if the label says "biodegradable", "oxodegradable" or "degradable", they are not certified, do not fully compost, and are not accepted in our program. Please check this flyer for details.

Keep our community clean! When you are walking your dog please do not put their droppings in neighbourhood garbage bins. This creates odours and fills up our landfill. Instead, simply bring along some certified compostable plastic pet waste bags, collect the droppings and just drop the bags in your green bin when you get home.

For more options and information about managing pet waste, check out our "Managing pet waste flyer".

Green Cart Pilot program for apartment buildings and townhouse complexes

Over 30 buildings (over 2,000 units) are participating in this pilot program. Green carts are placed beside the existing blue and grey recycling carts, creating an "eco depot". Each resident receives a handy kitchen container to help store and carry organics to the green carts. The organics collected are the same as for the Green Bin program: all food scraps, paper materials (e.g. greasy pizza boxes, shredded paper, paper coffee cups), and other items (e.g. hair and pet waste).

The pilot program will be monitored until a multi-residential waste management strategy is developed. See this report for details (starting on page 123).
Advantages of this program:
  1. Creates compost, not waste! Organics are shipped to Guelph for composting and this compost is used for agricultural purposes.
  2. Saves resources such as landfill space, and helps reduce greenhouse gases.
  3. It's convenient. You can get rid of organics from your home any time since green carts are not in your unit. Green binners have to wait for once per week collection.
  4. Residents can participate for no cost: create kitchen container liner bags out of newspaper.
  5. Recycling organics creates less garbage. You will be emptying your garbage cans less, buying fewer garbage bags, and making fewer trips to the garbage chute or dumpster.

Already on this pilot program?

Here are some helpful resources:

We want your feedback!  Do you have any suggestions, comments or observations about how the Green Cart program is working for you, for your building? Please contact Kim Kitagawa at 519-575-4400 ext. 8409 or by e-mail.

How to start an organics program at your building

Here are some basic steps:

  1. Discuss it with the building owner/manager/Board of Directors, superintendent and residents in the building to gauge interest.
  2. Contact local haulers to get quotes and information about the type of organics collection containers and services they may offer, and what happens to the organics.
  3. Set up a program based on the resources available. Establish diversion goals and an implementation plan. Promote and educate. Monitor and communicate results.

Green Cart program for schools

Since our audits show that 60 per cent of school waste is organic and can be diverted into the Green Cart and out of the landfill, the Region's Green Cart program is available to both public and private schools.

We provide schools with large roll-out carts for curbside collection and a limited number of green bins and catcher containers for internal collection. The carts need to be at the curb by 7 a.m. for collection.
How to get on the program:
Waterloo Region District School Board:
  • Step 1: *IMPORTANT* Schools must get approval from the Facilities department. Contact: EcoSchool Consultant at 519-570-0003 ext. 4266.
  • Step 2: Once approved, the Board office will contact the Region of Waterloo; the Region will contact the school.
  • Step 3: The Region and the school will work together for planning, implementing and communicating the program.
Waterloo Region Catholic School Board:  Contact the Energy Conservation Officer at 519-578-3660.
Other schools: Contact the Region of Waterloo directly at 519-575-4400.


Already on this program?  Here are some helpful resources:

Green bin THAT and Recycle THAT downloadable posters for primary and high school grades

Check out our video featuring two grade 4 students from Suddaby School who show you how to make a liner out of newspaper.