Frequently asked questions - The blue box sorting system

What is the two box sorting system?

It's sorting recyclables into two different blue boxes. One large box for "containers only" and the other smaller box for "paper products and plastic bags".

Containers only blue box

Paper products and plastic bags blue box

  • Rigid plastic food, beverage, cleaning, personal and pet care containers
  • Drinking boxes, milk and juice cartons
  • Paper coffee cups (Remove plastic lids. Place pieces in separately.)
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal food and beverage cans,
  • Aerosol and paint cans (Dry paint cans only. Remove lid.)
  • Aluminum foil wrap and trays 

How to prepare:  Empty and rinse containers. Discard straws. Remove lids if it's a different material than the bottle (e.g. metal lid on a glass bottle, plastic lid from a paper coffee cup).

  • Paper including newspaper, magazines, writing paper, envelopes, hard and soft covered books
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Boxboard including cereal boxes, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls
  • Plastic bags including grocery, bread, fruit/veg
  • Plastic outer wrap such as from packages of diapers, toilet paper, etc.

How to prepare:  Empty, dry bags only. Stuff all plastic bags and outer wrap into one bag and tie shut. Bag or bundle paper. Discard liner bags from boxes. Flatten and bundle corrugated cardboard no larger than 75x75x75 centimeters (30x30x8 inches)

Do I have to use a large blue box for containers?

No. Using a large box for containers is your choice. If you have a lot of cans, cartons, bottles and jars every week, then you may find the larger blue box more convenient to use.

Can I still use the blue boxes I already have?

Yes, as long as they meet the requirements below.

What are the approved sizes of blue boxes?

  • "Containers only" box:  use 68 to 91 litres (18 to 24 gallons)
  • "Paper products and plastic bags" box:  use 45 to 60 litres (12 to 16 gallons)

Please ensure your blue box:

  • has a rim around the top so the driver can lift it and hook it on the side of the truck for sorting
  • is made from rigid plastic which does not bend or give when lifted

Each blue box cannot weight more than 23 kilograms (50 pounds) when set to the curb for collection.

What are the advantages of the two blue box sorting system?

  • Convenience. We heard from you that the blue box we had been using as a standard was too small to hold all of your cans, cartons, bottles and jars. A larger "containers only" box will help you store and set-out more recyclables without having to use so many smaller-sized blue boxes.
  • Efficiency. Properly sorted blue boxes help collection staff sort into the two compartments of their trucks. 

I already have a large blue box. Is there anything I should be doing differently?

If you want, we can provide you with a sticker for that large blue box that says "containers only". See below for details.

What are these blue box stickers and how can I get them?

The stickers are to be adhered to the side of your blue box as a reminder of what is acceptable and how to sort.

 Blue box sticker for containers only


Image of blue box sticker for paper products and paper bags

The stickers are free.

  • Pick up stickers from our Cambridge Administration office (201 Savage Drive, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) or Waterloo Administration office (925 Erb Street West, Gate 1, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
  • Email to order
  • Call 519-575-4400 to order