This page shares information regarding the three composting programs offered by the Region of Waterloo Waste Management Department.

  • Yard waste
  • Backyard
  • Green bin

Mulch, compost and backyard composter giveaways

Our seasonal, free mulch and compost pick-up at our Waterloo Gate #2 and Cambridge transfer stations is running out of supply. As of Saturday, May 25 we will no longer have any compost or mulch left available. New, free supply won't be available until Tuesday, October 1. As the date draws closer, please check our website for further updates.

In spring and fall (or until the first snowfall) and always while quantities last, Waterloo Region residents can pick up free compost and mulch at our transfer stations in Waterloo, Gate #2 or Cambridge. This is for residential use only; please keep to the five-bushel limit.   

What you need to know:

  • Maximum 5 bushels per vehicle
  • Bring your own shovel and containers
  • Wear closed toed shoes

We do our best to keep bunkers stocked but we can't guarantee that material will be available for pick-up. The mulch we produce can work well as an underdressing to suppress weeds and retain moisture. It is not decorative. 

The backyard compost giveaway program is currently under review. While the review is taking place, no backyard composters will be available for giveaway. Once the review is complete, we will update the webpage accordingly. In the mean time, those interested in obtaining a backyard composter may consider retailer options.

 Backyard composting

Using a backyard composter is a great way to manage your waste at home. 

Benefits of composting:

  • It turns kitchen and yard waste into dark, nutrient-rich, earthy-smelling material called compost. Compost can be used to improve soil and enhance plant growth.
  • It allows you to manage your kitchen and yard waste on your own property, and reduces the amount of waste you have to get collected. 

To learn how to set up and use a backyard composter visit the Compost Council of Canada's website.

Can people in multi-unit buildings compost?

Yes! First, check your lease/agreement and any by-laws for your building/condominium corporation. If you are in a townhouse unit with your own yard, consider having a backyard composter. If you are in an apartment, consider worm composting (vermicomposting): Worm Composting Canada.

 Yard waste composting process

Yard waste collected curbside and from our transfer stations is taken to our Cambridge transfer station. We receive approximately 20,000 metric tonnes of yard waste each year.

Brush and Christmas trees from our seasonal collection program are shredded into mulch. The mulch we produce can work well as an underdressing to suppress weeds and retain moisture.

The remaining yard waste is brought to the outdoor compost pad area and put into long piles called windrows. Windrows are monitored weekly and turned occasionally to help maintain the temperature, moisture and oxygen levels. After 12 months the compost is screened; any organics that have not fully composted and any other material are removed. The compost is tested to make sure it meets Provincial standards and then we give it away to Waterloo Region residents! Watch the green bin and yard waste composting processes video.

 Green bin composting process

Green bin material collected curbside is brought the Waterloo transfer station and is temporarily housed in bunkers. A large portion of the organics are then loaded into large trucks and shipped to the City of Guelph's indoor Organic Waste Processing facility. Some quantities of organics are also sent to All Treat Farms in Arthur for processing.

In Guelph, unaccepted material is removed then the organics are shredded and mixed with some existing compost. Material is scooped and placed inside a series of tunnels. In the tunnels the temperature is controlled and turned up. Moisture in the form of mist is occasionally added to the material.

After six to eight weeks the compost is tested to meet Provincial standards and is then sold to farmers and landscapers in the area.  Watch the green bin to compost process video.

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