Green Bin

This page contains information for all green bin users. If you are at a school, apartment building or townhouse complex that uses large green carts, please go to our Cart recycling page

COVID-19 reminders: Put used tissues and paper napkins in the garbage, rather than the green bin. Use liner bags (either paper or certified compostable). And securely close all liner bags. Green bins that have loose and unbagged organics will not be collected. Thank you!

Wondering if you can put something in the green bin? Ask the Waste Whiz.

Ask the Waste Whiz!
If your green bin was not collected, please:
  • Check for an Oops! sticker. The collection crew may have left behind a sticker to indicate a problem.
  • If there is no sticker, and your green bin was set out by 7 a.m. on your collection day, please leave it 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.  

What is the correct container to use?

Approved green bin

We provide Green Bins to new homeowners, and replacement or additional green bins free of charge, as supplies last. 

Green bins are available at the at: 

  • Cambridge Waste Management site, 201 Savage Drive, Cambridge. Go to the scale and staff will provide directions. Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Waterloo Waste Management site, 925 Erb Street West, Gate 2, Waterloo. Go to the Household Hazardous Waste depot. Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The measurements of green bin we distribute are: 45 litres (12 gallons) in volume; 45 centimetres (17.7 inches) length by 39 centimetres (15.5 inches) wide by 68 centimetres (26.9 inches) high.

While green bins may be available for purchase from retailers, the Region of Waterloo does not reimburse for green bin purchases. 

Only use a 45 litre (12 gallon) green bin to set out your household organics.

  • Collection crews empty containers by physically lifting and tipping the container into their truck. They cannot empty oversized or overweight containers.
  • The green bin is the indicator to collection crews that you have household organics set out for recycling.

If your green bin is broken, set it aside and do not use. It won't be safe for collection staff to empty. Please bring your broken green bin in to the locations above for a replacement. We can recycle it! 

Using the correct liner bags

All green bin organics have to be in acceptable liner bags. Using liner bags protects collection staff, helps the material empty out, and keeps your bin cleaner. There are two types of liner bags that are accepted in our program:

  1. Paper liner bags: Paper liner bags made specifically for the green bin are available at local grocery and hardware stores. These bags do not need certification logos. Some have a shiny cellulose lining to give them more wet strength; these are safe to use in our program. As well, you can use any other type of paper bag as a liner, such as paper take-out bags. 
  2. Certified compostable liner bags: These bags are made from plant-based material and are tested to ensure that they compost fully. It is the only type of plastic that is allowed in our Green Bin program (and accepted by our organics processor), and are identified by specific logos. These bags must have at least one of these logos:

US Certified compostable logo

Canadian Certified compostable logo






Beware! There are other bags that look like certified compostable bags, but are not acceptable. Generally, if the label says "biodegradable", "oxo degradable" or "degradable", they are not certified, do not fully compost, and are not accepted in our program. 

When you use certified compostable liner bags:

  • Do not double bag. 
  • Tie bags securely closed.
  • Place the logo so it is visible, if possible. This helps collection staff know that it is the correct plastic.


  • When you set out your green bin to the curb for collection, loosen the liner bag away from the rim, sides and bottom of the bin.
  • If you own a pet, look for pet waste bags with the same logos as above. When you go for a walk with your dog, for instance, bring along some of these certified compostable plastic bags so you can easily tie up the bags and drop them in your green bin when you get home.
  • Use our flyer as a reference when you go shopping for certified compostable liner bags, and for instructions on how to make your own kitchen container liner out of newsprint.

How to set up for success

  • Place a container in the kitchen to collect organics in a handy spot, such as on the kitchen counter. See "kitchen container" section below.
  • Put other containers or paper bags in each bathroom.
  • Write your address on your green bin in permanent marker.
  • Set your green bin in a convenient, well-ventilated, shady area, like the garage.
  • Place a paper egg carton or balled up newsprint in the bottom of your green bin so contents empty out.
  • Line your green bin or kitchen container with the correct type of liner bag.
  • Post information about green bin recycling on your bulletin board. Print out flyers and brochures in the Green Bin program section on our Publications page
  • Discuss green bin recycling with your family

Kitchen container options

Re-purpose a lidded container that you may already have, such as a plastic ice cream container or kitty litter bucket. Or purchase a small lidded bucket or kitchen organics container from local home improvement stores. Available in plastic, metal/stainless steel, etc. Do not set out your kitchen container for collection.

Assorted containers with lids

How to prevent (or control) pests

Pests are naturally attracted to food scraps and smelly waste. Below are tips to help prevent and control pests.

How to prevent pests:

  1. Keep lids on your organics containers securely closed at all times. 
  2. Empty your kitchen container into your green bin on a regular basis.
  3. Clean your bins frequently with baking soda or another gentle cleaner.
  4. Deodorize your bins by sprinkling baking soda, garden lime, white vinegar or biodegradable laundry detergent (no bleach) in your bins.
  5. Store your green bin in a shaded, cool area.
  6. Place spoiled food in your bin just before collection. Consider freezing meat/bones in paper bags and placing in your bin on collection day.
  7. Bury food scraps with shredded paper or newspaper.
  8. Deter flies by dabbing vinegar on the outside rim of your container.
  9. Set out your green bin for collection every week, even if it is not full. Set it out by 7 a.m. on your collection day, not the night before.
  10. Replace your bins if they are cracked or broken.

How to control pests

  1. Do not use hazardous, chemical pesticides since this would affect the quality of compost produced.
  2. For fruit flies, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the top contents of your organics containers. Or trap fruit flies by placing a small amount of apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish soap in a juice glass and set next to your kitchen container. 
  3. Sprinkle salt, white vinegar, garden lime, or Diatomaceous Earth (a natural fossil product) on top of fly larvae (maggots).
  4. If storing your green bin outside, hang it on a hook out of the reach of animals.

What goes in?

  • All food scraps (remove packaging, stickers, no more than one cup of liquid per green bin - see information below) 
  • Some paper products, such as greasy take-out paper packaging, paper plates, paper towels, shredded paper
  • Hair, nail clippings, fur, feathers, and wrapped pet waste
  • Houseplants, cut flowers waste, natural greenery from wreaths (remove pots, wire, decorations)
  • Pumpkins (remove candles, decorations and place on top of or beside your green bin)
  • Wood ashes (cold, put in an acceptable liner bag)

Put all green bin organics in a paper or certified compostable liner bag and close all bags when you set out your green bin for collection.

NO packaging, glass, metal, plastic. No beverage cups, including coffee cups. No chewing gum, cigarette butts, cleaning wipes, coffee pods, corks, condiment packets, cutlery, diapers, dirt/vacuum sweepings, water softener salt, wax, yard waste.  

Wondering if an item is accepted in our Green Bin program? Ask the Waste Whiz

How to deal with liquids and prevent a soggy green bin

Only 250 grams (one cup) of liquid is allowed in your green bin. This helps to prevent it from being over the weight limit of 23 kilograms (50 pounds), prevents odours, and avoids a messy bin at collection. As well, liquid waste is banned from collection in our by-law.

Here are ways to deal with liquids:

  • Drain watery liquids from food waste before putting it in the green bin. Warning! Protect your pipes and do not pour fats in your sink or toilet.
  • Let fats/grease cool and harden first, then put in a lined green bin. 
  • Drop off large quantities of cooking oil, such as from a deep fryer, at our waste management sites for free.
  • Put layers of paper in your lined green bin or lined kitchen container to absorb liquids. Use shredded paper from your home office or newspaper.
  • Put a paper egg carton or paper beverage take-out tray in the bottom of your green bin to absorb liquids and prevent your liner bag from sticking to the bin.
  • Use a backyard composter for your food waste that can be high in liquids such as fruits and vegetables, tea bags and coffee grounds.
  • Can the liquid be used in other recipes? Look for options online


Collection schedule and rules

  • Set out your green bin every week by 7 a.m. on your collection day, even if it is not full. This will help prevent odours and the contents sticking to the bin. Please note:  On your collection day, 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.
  • Collection crews sticker and leave behind green bins containing unacceptable items.
  • There is no limit on the number of green bins you can set out each week.
  • Put all organics in an approved liner bag. Loose organics will not be collected. 
    • Close all liner bags to protect collection crews. If you use certified compostable liner bags, place the logo so it is visible. This helps collection crews know that it is the correct type of bag. Green bins with regular plastic bags and other unacceptable items will not be collected.
    • Bag pet waste and cold wood ashes in a liner bag before you place it in the green bin. This helps protect collection crews and keeps your bin cleaner.  
    • Peel the liner loose from the edge of the bin when you set the bin to the curb. This way, the liner will drop out at collection. Liner bags that are frozen, stuck, or still stretched around the rim of your green bin cannot be collected.
  • The only item made out of compostable plastic that is allowed in green bins is certified compostable liner bags. No other "compostable" plastic products (such as cutlery, cups, coffee pods, etc.) are allowed. See information below.
  • Maximum weight for each green bin is 23 kilograms (50 pounds).
  • Keep it visible and accessible for collection crews (not behind or on top of a snowbank, not behind a parked car or light post, etc.).
  • Remove all packaging from spoiled food, and place any recyclable packaging in your blue box.
  • Do not set only a liner bag or your kitchen container out for collection.

Why "compostable" coffee pods, cutlery, and other plastic items are not allowed in our Green Bin program 

The only type of compostable plastic accepted in our Green Bin program is certified compostable liner bags which have the following logos:

Logo for certified compostable plastic liner bags accepted in the Region's Green Bin program     Logo for certified compostable plastic liner bags accepted in the Region's Green Bin program


  • All green bin organics get turned into compost at Guelph's organics processing facility. This facility's licence allows for certified compostable liner bags only; no other compostable plastic packaging or items are accepted.
  • Liner bags with the logos above have been tested to assure that the materials break down to make compost.
  • Unacceptable "compostable" packaging and items could result in processing issues at the composting facility and spoil the compost quality. Some bio-plastics contain fossil fuels.

If you have any questions or concerns about your collection schedule or our programs, please contact our Call Centre at 519-575-4400.

Options for dealing with green bin organics

  1. Prevent food waste.
  2. Compost food scraps in your backyard. Fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds are some of the items that can be composted.
  3. For small quantities of extra organics, place in an approved liner bag and place on top of your green bin for collection. Please make sure that the bag can support its contents. 
  4. For pet waste disposal, go to our "How to dispose of pet waste" page.
  5. Consider vermicomposting - composting with worms. 
  6. Drop off green bin organics at the Region's waste management sites (fees will apply). This may be an option to consider when you are going on vacation or moving.


  • Download our free Waste Whiz app to set personalized waste collection reminders.
  • When you "spring clean":
  • Wash containers on a regular basis. And use a natural deodorizer such as baking soda to freshen your bin.
  • Replace your green bin if it is cracked or broken.
  • Make your own kitchen container liner out of newsprint.
  • Layer food waste with paper waste (such as shredded paper) to absorb liquids.
  • Consider freezing meat/bones in acceptable liner bags and place in your green bin on your collection day.
  • When preparing food, place a couple of sheets of newsprint on the counter, add food scraps, roll up, and toss in your green bin. 
  • If you use a backyard composter, continue to use it! It's good to compost vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds. But put items such as meat, bones and sauces in the green bin, so you don't attract pests in your yard. And green bins are handy to recycle waste while composters are buried in the snow, too!

Got a tip to share? Twitter @WasteWR and Facebook @ROWWasteManagement

How do I deal with waste from my backyard chicken coop? 

Some local municipalities allow residents to have backyard chicken coops. Coops can create various types of waste. Here's how to handle waste items: 

Celebrating 15 years of green binning!


Happy anniversary! On September 18, 2021 our Green Bin program cA cake shaped like a green binelebrated its 15th year.

  • In 2006, we launched our first green bin pilot to one thousand homes in each of five different neighbourhoods, two in Cambridge, (Monday and Thursday waste collection days), two in Kitchener (Tuesday and Friday waste collection days), and one in Waterloo (Wednesday collection). Given the success of the pilot, another 5,000 homes were added in 2007 to test out different bins and promotional materials. Then Regional Council approved a roll-out of green bin kits to around 40,000 homes each fall in 2008, 2009 and 2010. (In 2017 when we changed collection to be the same in all seven municipalities, we rolled out green bin kits to the rural areas in the four Townships.) 
  • From the start, "green binners" could recycle all food scraps, pet waste, paper towels, and other household stuff like hair, and wooden toothpicks. However the mix has changed a little: paper coffee cups now go into the blue box (separate pieces and put both pieces into the Containers Only blue box), dirt/vacuum sweepings go in the garbage, and certified compostable liner bags are accepted for use.
  • Over 180,000 metric tonnes of green bin organics has been collected. These organics were processed in Niagara area at first, but then in 2013 we entered into a contract with Guelph for processing closer to home. 
  • In 2020, thanks to our residents, over 27,000 tonnes of organics were collected through this program. By the way... that amount of organics is about the same weight as 6,000 adult male African elephants!
  • The benefits of this program are only growing in importance. Here are the top three benefits:
    1. Diverts waste from landfill. We only have one landfill operating in Waterloo Region and by green binning you are extending its life.
    2. Helps to fight climate change. Check page 9 of our 2020 Annual Report for details.
    3. Produces compost. Green bin compost is used on local farms to improve soil health.
  •  Need ideas on how to celebrate this milestone?
    1. Make a "compost" chocolate cake.
    2. Do what you can to prevent food waste and it's environmental impact. Use our tips.
    3. And keep on green binning all your household organics. Double check our list of acceptable items. 

Thanks to all green binners. You make a difference every day!

Where does it go?

Collection crews drop off green bin organics at Region of Waterloo facilities. Organics are then loaded into large trucks and shipped in bulk 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 monitored to maximize the breakdown of the organics with oxygen.

After three to four weeks, the compost is removed from the tunnels and screened to separate out any plastics. This screened compost is formed into long piles called windrows and is monitored for several weeks while it matures indoors.

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

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

Watch this video for details.

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