Garbage

The Region of Waterloo provides curbside garbage collection to eligible households every other week. Garbage bag/can limits apply. Garbage is disposed at our one-and-only local landfill.

Please take these steps to help protect collection crews:

  1. Put all used gloves, face masks, and cleaning wipes in a garbage bag. 
  2. If you are sick, place any item that has touched your mouth, nose or eyes into the garbage. This includes items you would normally put in the blue box, such as water bottles, pop cans, and milk/juice cartons, or green bin, such as tissues, and paper napkins.
  3. Put all garbage in garbage bags, not loose in garbage cans.
  4. Tightly tie shut all garbage bags.

For additional information about changes to our waste program and services during the pandemic, go to our Collection Matters page.

Wondering how to dispose of a particular item? Ask the Waste Whiz.

Ask the Waste Whiz!

If your garbage was not collected:

  1. Check for an "Oops!" sticker. Collection crews may have left behind a sticker indicating a problem.
  2. If there is no sticker and your garbage was set out by 7 a.m. on your collection day for the correct week, leave your garbage out at the curb and use our online form to report a collection concern. Or contact our Call Centre at 519-575-4400 available 24 hours a day, every day. Please note that our Call Centre is experiencing a high volume of calls related to the COVID-19 vaccine, at this time. We appreciate your patience.

What are the correct garbage containers to use?

Garbage can with dimensions

Garbage cans:

  • Maximum can volume: 121 litres (32 gallons)Maximum can size: Height 84 centimetres (33 inches), and width 48 centimetres (19 inches).
  • Cans must have two handles, and any lids must be removable
  • COVID-19 update:  Ensure all garbage inside of the can is in bags that have been securely closed. Loose, unbagged garbage will not be collected.

Garbage bags:

Wheeled cart, example of cart not accepted
  • Maximum garbage bag size: 65 centimetres (26 inches) by 90 centimetres (35 inches) when empty, minimum of 1.5 mil thick

Tip! Use dark-coloured garbage bags. White garbage bags are difficult to see in the winter.

Maximum weight for each bag or can: 23 kilograms (50 pounds)

Containers that are not collected include over-sized wheeled carts, and large construction garbage bags.

What goes in?

  • COVID-19 waste including masks, gloves, sanitizing wipes, facial tissues, paper napkins. And if you are sick, all other items that have touched your face such as juice cartons, pop cans.
  • Bags that contained meat or cheese, mesh bags, stand-up pouches
  • Broken dishware, broken glass, cutlery, incandescent and LED light bulbs, strands of lights (See below for details.)
  • Bubble wrap, bows and ribbons, foil and plastic wrapping paper
  • Butcher paper, parchment paper, waxed paper, plastic stretch wrap
  • Cardboard cans, such as frozen orange juice cans, chip tubes
  • Coffee pods, coffee bags
  • Diapers, incontinence products, and feminine hygiene products 
  • Feed bags from backyard chicken coops
  • Furnace filters
  • Hangers, laundry baskets
  • Snack wrappers, chip bags, candy wrappers
  • Squeeze tubes
  • Straws
  • Styrofoam
  • Toys
  • Wooden orange crates

No banned items, and hazardous waste such as fluorescent tubes and curly light bulbs. No automotive parts, dead animals, electronic waste, hot ashes, liquids.

How to prepare broken glass

This includes broken glass jars and bottles, glass and ceramic dishware, light bulbs (incandescent and LED), strings of lights, small picture frame glass, small mirrors, metal cutlery including knives, saw blades, screwdrivers, and other small, sharp objects that can fit into a standard garbage bag.

  1. Wrap it in several layers of newsprint and tape shut, or put it in a small cardboard box and tape shut.
  2. Ensure that it's completely sealed and there are no sharp edges.
  3. Put it in the middle of a garbage bag. Pack other garbage on top and around. Once full, tie the garbage bag securely closed.

For larger pieces, such as a large broken mirror,

  1. Put in a cardboard box,
  2. Seal and tape closed (ensure that nothing is sticking out of the box, there are no sharp edges),
  3. Label, such as "broken mirror", and
  4. Place beside your garbage. This will count towards your bulky item limit.

Please note:

Thanks for helping to keep collection crews safe!

Collection schedule and rules

  • Garbage collection is once every second week on your collection dayCollection is provided on all holidays except Christmas and New Year's Day.
  • Containers must be at the curb by 7 a.m. on your collection day. Please note that different trucks pick up different materials starting at 7 a.m. (they work into the evening). The time that your items are collected will vary week to week depending on various factors, such as routing changes, road construction, and weather conditions.
  • There is a limit on the number of garbage bags/cans collected:
    • Single family homes and each legal duplex: 4 garbage bags/cans 
    • Small apartment buildings with 3 to 6 units: 10 garbage bags/cans 
  • Each additional bag or can over the limit must have a garbage tag.
  • Set out garbage in approved containers
  • Do not overfill garbage containers. Garbage cannot exceed the rim of the garbage can. And there is a maximum weight of 23 kilograms (50 pounds) per garbage bag or can.
  • All garbage must be in bags. Tie bags closed. 
  • Collection crews sticker and leave behind unacceptable items.
  • Containers must be accessible from the street (not behind a snowbank or parked car, etc.)Perfect curbside collection set out and collection items blocked by parked vehicles
  • Garbage cannot be hazardous, sharp or dangerous to collect.
  • After certain holidays, double the amount of garbage can be set out. See our Double Garbage Days section below for details. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the garbage limit and why it's changing

1. What is this?

The garbage limit for households is being reduced from four bags/cans to three every other week starting October 17, 2022. This affects single-family households, each duplex, and townhouse complexes that currently receive curbside collection services from the Region of Waterloo.

Please note:

  • The three bag/can limit equals 69 kilograms (150 pounds) of garbage per collection.
  • Almost 90 per cent of households already set out three or fewer bags every other week for collection.
  • This program change was approved by Planning and Works Committee on April 12, 2022  and Regional Council on April 27, 2022. A copy of the report is available online (starting on page 176 of the Committee agenda.)
  • Compared to other municipalities, the Region of Waterloo offers generous collection programs. Some municipalities have full user pay (pay for every bag), and most have lower garbage limits, including weight limits (for example 18 kilograms/40 pounds, compared with our 23 kilograms/50 pounds).
  • The cost to the average household through regional property taxes in 2022 is $161 for a full year of all waste programs and services. This is about $3.10 per week.

2. How is the garbage limit being reduced?

The change in garbage limits will be phased in:

From April to mid-October, we will be raising awareness about this change and promote ways to meet the new limit. 

From October 17 until December 31, staff and collection contractors will monitor waste setout and provide reminders and resources to help those setting out over the limit. 

Starting January 1, 2023, the new limit will be enforced. Untagged garbage over the limit will be stickered and left behind by collection crews. 

3. Why is the garbage limit being reduced? 

  • To improve diversion and recycling of valuable resources. According to our audits, on average and by weight, 46 per cent of residential garbage going to the landfill could be composted through the Green Bin program, and 13 per cent could be recycled through the Blue Box program. A lower garbage limit would encourage residents to use their green bins and blue boxes as much as possible.
  • To maximize the life of our local landfill. Our landfill is an asset and we need to protect it, and maximize its life as much as possible. Replacing it will cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • To meet our objectives in our strategic plan, and Waste Management Master Plan (WMMP). Our WMMP was developed after extensive consultation with the public. Note that the reduction in garbage limit was originally scheduled for 2019 and has been delayed mainly due to COVID-19.

As a result, this change is expected to have many benefits including fighting climate change and will help prepare for the next collection contract. As well, it will help prepare for the significant changes to our programs due to Provincial initiatives and regulations (the Blue Box program Extended Producer Responsibility and Food and Organics Framework).

4. I generate a lot of waste/have a large family. What should I do? 

  • Reduce your garbage. Try to buy items with packaging that is accepted in our recycling program. And use other tips on our website.
  • Sort and recycle more. According to our studies, around 60 per cent of material in the average garbage bag can be sorted into either the blue box or green bin. Additional and replacement green bins are available at our sites for no charge. And if you have a broken blue box, bring it in to exchange it for a new one.  
  • Take advantage of the programs we offer such as the Diaper Drop-off program and the Medical Exemptions program.
  • Get the information you need. Check our website, use The Waste Whiz App, or call us at 519-575-4400.
  • Use garbage tags on garbage set out over the limit. There is no limit on the number of tagged garbage bags/cans you can set out for collection. Tags can be purchased online or in-person at our vendor locations. For more information, go to our Garbage Tag page.
  • Drop off garbage at our facilities(There is a $10 minimum fee.)

5. I have a medical condition that generates additional garbage. Will there be any changes to the Medical Exemptions program?

No, please continue contact us to apply for or renew your exemption.

6. Won't this cause an increase in illegal dumping?

With any change to waste programs, there is a potential for an increase in illegal dumping. Since the majority of households already meet the lowered curbside limit, illegal dumping should be minimal. By-laws will be enforced and the Region will continue to work with area municipalities on illegal dumping issues. 

Collection crews will continue to enforce overweight garbage bags, and will sticker and leave behind unacceptable items.

If you need additional information about our waste bans and by-law, or would like to report a by-law issue (such as scavenging, illegal dumping, etc.), please contact our Call Centre at 519-575-4400 available 24 hours a day, every day.

7. I put my garbage in small kitchen bags and then put those in a garbage can. Will I meet the new garbage limit? 

Yes – as long as the garbage can meets the criteria for an approved container (maximum volume of 121 litres (32 gallons), detachable lid, two handles, and weighs no more than 23 kilograms (50 pounds)). Note: The bagged garbage cannot exceed the top lip of the garbage can.

You will be able to set three of these garbage cans. Each can set out above three will need to have a garbage tag visible on the top bag of garbage.

Options for dealing with garbage

  • Use our waste reduction tips, including how to prevent garbage and food waste, and how to reduce waste during holidays and celebrations.
  • Ensure you are fully using the blue box and green bin. Recent studies have found that over 50 per cent of the average garbage bag (by weight) could be diverted to the Blue Box and Green Bin programs.

Double garbage days

Four times each year, after certain holidays (New Year's Day, Good Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day), you can set out double the amount of garbage for free (no garbage tags are needed).

Next Double Garbage Days:

  • If you live in the City of Kitchener or in the Townships, you can set out twice the amount of garbage on your collection day during the week of October 10 to 14, 2022.
  • If you live in the Cities of Cambridge and Waterloo, you can set out twice the amount of garbage on your collection day during the week of October 17 to 21, 2022.

How to deal with renovation waste

Waste limits apply at all times, including moving and home renovations. Waste will only be collected if properly prepared and within the collection limits:

Waste set out above these limits will not be collected. Please remove uncollected items from the curb and set out on your next collection day, or drop off the waste at our waste management sites (fees will apply).

Please remember to prepare items correctly for set-out including removing nails from lumber and bundling properly, keeping within the weight limit, and putting all garbage in garbage bags. Ask the Waste Whiz to see how to properly prepare and dispose of it.

Tips!

  • Consider donating acceptable materials (such as building materials, furniture and appliances). 
  • If you are having renovation work done (like new floors installed) ask the installer to take the waste with them. 
  • Ask to have old furniture or appliances removed when new ones are delivered.
  • Check out our Household Hazardous Waste page for details on disposal of paint, other chemicals, and fluorescent tubes and other light bulbs.

Tips

 What do I do with diapers?

Diapers go in regular garbage. There are no exceptions to the garbage limits for infant diapers, including those from home daycare businesses.

Watch this video on handling disposable diapers.Man standing in a neighbourhood in the winter

According to the Region's Public Health department, diapers do not pose a health hazard if handled and stored properly:

  1. Double bag the diapers.
  2. Place them in a securely covered garbage can to discourage pests.
  3. Store the garbage can in a cool, dry location, out of the sun.
  4. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling.

Please note: 

 

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