Cart recycling

This page are for residents and schools in Waterloo Region that use large recycling carts. If you use blue boxes, please go to our Blue Box program page.

COVID-19 update:  To help protect collection crews, please:

  • Put used tissues and paper napkins in the garbage, rather than the green cart.
  • If you are sick, please place any item that has come into contact with your face into the garbage. This includes items that you would normally put in the blue recycling cart, such as water bottles, pop cans, milk/juice cartons, etc.
  • For more details about changes to our waste programs and services during the pandemic, go to our Collection Matters page.

Blue and Grey Cart recycling program

Who is eligible?

 

Multi-unit buildings (seven units or more)

Under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act, Regulation 103/94, recycling is mandated at multi-unit buildings with six or more units. Building owners must start, promote and manage their own recycling programs at their own cost.

We support owners by offering the Blue and Grey Cart Recycling program:

  • For buildings having over six units, and that use garbage dumpsters.
  • Program requirements must be met, including owners signing a collection agreement form. 
  • Upon approval, we provide collection containers (roll-out carts), weekly collection, and promotional materials at no charge.  

Email us for more information.

Schools

Schools in Waterloo Region are eligible for the Blue and Grey Cart Recycling program. To join this program,

  1. The school has to contact their School Board and get approval.
  2. Once approved by the the School Board, contact the Region by email or phone (519-575-4400) to confirm program details, such as the collection day. Note:  Carts are required to be set on the street curb by 7 a.m. on your collection day.
  3. The Region will deliver the large roll-out carts (limits apply), and a one-time supply of residential-sized blue boxes (which may be needed in classrooms).
  4. Carts would be emptied every week, for no charge.

What goes in?

The Blue and Grey Cart program recycles the same items as our Blue Box program. However, there are some differences in preparing and sorting paper products.

We supply three types of carts for different types of recyclables. To help residents sort, we have two colours of carts: blue for "containers", and grey for "paper products and plastic bags".

1.  Blue "Containers" cart:

Accepts packaging that contained a food, drink, cleaning, personal or pet care product at the point of purchase:  

  • Cartons, such as drinking boxes (no straws), milk or juice cartons
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal cans, including empty and dry paint cans (remove lids), empty aerosol cans
  • Paper cups, such as take-out coffee cups (remove plastic lid and put in separately)
  • Plastic bottles, jars, clamshells, flower pots/trays, automotive fluid containers (antifreeze, windshield washer, etc.) with plastic identification symbols one through seven: Recycle symbols 1 through 7
  • Aluminum foil trays and wrap

How to prepare: 

  • Empty.
  • Rinse.
  • Do not bag - put in loose. 

Do not put in: Broken glass, dishware, light bulbs, containers with food, appliances and electronic waste, car parts, candy wrappers, chip bags, cardboard cans, coffee pods, clothes baskets and hangers, straws, Styrofoam, toys, wooden orange crates. And due to COVID-19, if you are sick, place any item that has come into contact with your face into the garbage.

2. Grey "Paper products and plastic bags" cart: 

Accepts the following materials:

  • Paper, such as newspaper, magazines, writing paper, envelopes, books, plain wrapping paper. Put in loose.
  • Boxboard, such as cereal, cracker, and tissue boxes, paper take-out trays, paper egg cartons, toilet paper tubes. Discard liner bags. Flatten boxes. Put in loose.
  • Plastic bags and outer wrap, including grocery, shopping, produce, and bread bags, and plastic outer wrap (such as from packages of paper towels, diapers, and cases of pop, etc.). Stuff inside one bag and tie the bag closed.

How to prepare:

  • Put all items in the cart loose, except for plastic bags and outer wrap.
  • Please stuff all plastic bags and outer wrap in one bag and tie the bag tightly shut.

Do not put in: Gloves, masks, sanitizing wipes, stand-up pouches, liner bags from cereal/cracker boxes and other bags that make a "crinkle" sound, bags that contained meat or cheese, mesh bags, bubble wrap, diapers, foil or plastic wrapping paper, bows, ribbons. No furnace filters. 

3. Grey "Corrugated Cardboard" cart:  

Flatten and size corrugated cardboard to fit into the cart. Do not bundle.

Do not put in: Plastic bags, shrink wrap, shipping materials (such as air pillows, packing peanuts, Styrofoam), metal/glass/plastic containers.

Collection schedule and rules

  • Collection is once per week on your designated day. Contact our Call Centre at 519-575-4400 to find out your collection day.
  • Sort and prepare recyclables correctly. Carts containing unacceptable items will not be collected.
    • Empty and rinse all containers.
    • Put containers (cans, cartons, bottles and jars) in the "Containers" cart loose. Do not bag.
    • Put paper (newspaper, magazines, books, flattened cereal and other boxes) in the "Paper Products and Plastic Bags" cart loose. Do not bag.
    • Put acceptable plastic bags and outer wrap in one bag, and tie the handles of that bag shut. Put this bag into the Paper Products and Plastic Bags cart.
    • Flatten and size cardboard so it fits inside of the cart. Do not bundle.
  • Ensure carts are set out and ready by 7 a.m. on your collection day. 
    • Clear snow and ice.
    • Ensure there are no parked cars blocking access.
  • All carts for schools must be rolled to the street for safe collection.
  • If you roll carts to the curb for collection, make sure they are at least half full of recyclables. This helps make collection more efficient.
  • Property owners and school staff are responsible to educate users on how to prepare and sort recyclables properly. 
  • If you have a concern about collection, please report it using our online form

Tips and FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Prevent litter and maximize recycling:
  • Put all recyclables inside the carts. Do not leave items on top or outside of the carts. 
  • If carts are stored outside, please close the lid after putting recyclables into the cart.
  • Do not add your recyclables if the cart is full or overflowing. Use a different, empty cart. (If you find that all of the carts are full, please contact your landlord or superintendent.)

Top four reasons to recycle

 

  1. Protect the environment.
  2. Comply with Provincial legislation.
  3. Minimize garbage disposal costs.
  4. Gain a marketing advantage. People who are used to curbside recycling and then move into a multi-unit building are used to recycling and may want to live in a complex that offers recycling. 

What happens to the recyclables?

Recyclables get sorted at our Nyle Ludolph Materials Recycling Centre (NLMRC), located at 925 Erb Street West (Gate 1), Waterloo. To learn more about the NLMRC and how your sorting makes a difference, please click on the link above.

Need more information?

Green Cart organics program

Who is eligible?

COVID-19 update:  Please place used tissues and paper napkins in the garbage, rather than the green cart. Thanks for helping to protect workers.

The Region's Green Cart organics program is available to all public and private schools that receive our Blue and Grey Cart Recycling program.

How to join the program:

  1. Schools must first get approval from their School Board.
  2. Upon approval by the School Board, contact us by email or phone (519-575-4400) to discuss and confirm details.
  3. Once approved by the Region, we will provide a limited number of green carts (with liners), a one-time supply of residential-sized green bins (no liners) for internal collection, as required, and collection service, at no charge.
  4. Collection will begin about one week after containers have been delivered.  Carts are required to be set on the street curb by 7 a.m. on your designated collection day. When emptied, carts will be re-lined by the collection crew with a certified compostable bag.

Note:  The Region is running a Green Cart organics pilot program for a few apartment buildings and townhouse complexes. The information below is applicable to those participating in the pilot. If you want more information about this pilot, please email us.

What goes in?

This program accepts the same materials as our Green Bin program.

COVID-19 update:  To help protect collection crews, please put used tissues and paper napkins in the garbage, rather than the green cart. Thanks for helping.

  • All food scraps (remove all packaging, stickers, strings)
  • Some paper products, such as greasy take-out paper packaging, paper towels, shredded paper
  • Hair, nail clippings, fur, feathers, and wrapped pet waste
  • Houseplants, cut flowers, greenery from wreaths (remove pots, wire, decorations)
  • Pumpkins (remove candles, decorations)
  • Wood ashes (cold, put in an acceptable liner bag)

Do not put in: Glass, metal, plastic. Beverage cups, including coffee cups. Chewing gum, cigarette butts, cleaning wipes, coffee pods, corks, condiment packets, cutlery, diapers, dirt/vacuum sweepings, water softener salt, wax, yard waste. 

Collection schedule and rules

  • Carts need to be visible and accessible to collection crews on your collection day(s) starting at 7 a.m. Remove snow and ice and ensure there are no parked cars blocking access.
  • All carts for schools must be rolled to the street for safe collection.
  • All organics should be inside the carts. Please do not leave items on top of or outside of the carts.
  • Carts containing unacceptable materials will not be collected.
  • All organics need to be in liner bags. Only paper bags (such as a yard waste bag) or certified compostable liner bags are accepted. Regular plastic or "biodegradable" bags are not allowed. All bags must be closed. 
  • School staff are responsible to promote and educate users about the Green Cart organics program. TIP:  Many schools have an "eco" or "green" team consisting of a teacher and several students who help promote and ensure the smooth operation of the program.

Need more information?

  1. Contact our Call Centre 519-575-4400, available 24 hours a day, every day.
  2. Refer to our Publications and resources page for brochures, posters and videos.
  3. Are you a teacher interested in booking a (virtual) presentation? Check out our Environmental Education program section for booking details (and online resources, too!)
  4. Refer to Regional Waste By-Law 17-007 and Bans for collection and disposal restrictions.

Where does it go?

Collection crews drop off green cart organics at our Cambridge and Waterloo waste management sites. Organics are then loaded into large trucks and taken to the City of Guelph's Organic Waste Processing facility.

At Guelph's facility, your organics are mixed with other organics, shredded and put into a series of tunnels to compost. The conditions in the tunnels are controlled and monitored to ensure the quick breakdown of the organics. 

After three to four weeks, the compost is removed from the tunnels and screened. Screening removes materials that did not break down. (The material that did not break down is returned to the tunnel.)

In an indoor facility, the screened compost is formed into long piles called windrows. The compost "matures" in this stage for several weeks.

After an additional screening, the compost is tested to ensure it meets quality standards.

The high-grade compost is sold to local businesses, including local farmers who add it to their fields to grow more food.

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