Green Bin

This page contains information regarding our green bin organics curbside collection. Backyard composting may be an option in addition to green binning. Did you know that your green bin organics get converted into compost? Visit our Compost page to learn about the composting process.

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 at the curb, complete the online form or contact the Call Centre at 519-575-4400, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

Use the correct container

Approved green bin

We provide green bins to new homeowners as well as replacement or additional green bins free of charge, while supplies last. If your green bin is broken, set it aside and don't use it. It won't be safe for collection staff to empty. Please bring your broken green bin to our transfer stations for exchange. We can recycle it!  

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 the 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.

Use the correct liner bags

Placing green bin material in paper or certified compostable bag ensures that:

  • all who handle green bins are safe;
  • material doesn’t stick and remain in the bin; and
  • helps maintain cleanliness.

When placing bins curbside remember to twist or roll bags shut. Green bins with incorrect liner bags or in the case of exposed pet waste, will be stickered and left behind.

Exposed pet waste is a health and safety concern for everyone and must be:

  • individually bagged or
  • mixed in with other accepted green bin material in an approved bag.

There are two types of liner bags that are accepted in our program:

  1. Paper liner bags: are 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. You can also use any other type of paper bag as a liner, such as paper take-out bags. 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.
  2. Certified compostable liner bags: are made from plant-based material and are tested to ensure that they compost fully. Certified compostable bags are the only type of compostable product that is allowed in our Green Bin program and is accepted by our organics processor. If possible, place the logo so it is visible this helps collection staff know that it is the correct type of bag. Certified compostable bags are identified by one or both of these specific 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. 

Set up for success

  • Place a container in the kitchen to collect organics.
  • Put other containers or paper bags in each bathroom to collect accepted green bin material there too.
  • 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 or make your own kitchen catcher liner bag.

Kitchen catcher options:

Re-purpose a lidded container or buy either a small lidded bucket or kitchen organics container from local home improvement stores. Do not set out your kitchen container for curbside collection.

Assorted containers with lids

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).
  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 including cooking oil per green bin) 
  • Some paper products, such as greasy take-out paper packaging, paper plates, paper towels, facial tissues (Kleenex), shredded paper
  • Hair, nail clippings, and wrapped pet waste. Accepted pet waste includes animal droppings, kitty litter, wood shavings and other natural bedding, newspaper cage liners, feathers, and fur. Wrap pet waste individually in paper or certified compostable bags before putting it in your green bin. 
  • 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)

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/incontinence products, dirt/vacuum sweepings, water softener salt, wax, yard waste.  

Looking for other options for pet waste:

1. Animal droppings can be buried in your backyard using a digester. Digesters are available at local stores and work similar to composters. However please:

  • Check with your local municipality on any by-law restrictions. For example, there may be rules on how close you can locate your digester to your neighbour's property.
  • Mix in layers of wood chips, sawdust or dried plant material to help reduce moisture and odours.

Within two years, the waste should be fully digested and the material may be spread on the lawn and gardens as a soil amendment, but the material should not be spread on or near vegetable gardens.

2. Small amounts of animal droppings can be double-bagged in plastic bags, put in the garbage, and set out on your regular garbage collection day. For the health and safety of collection crews, please prepare it properly. Collection crews will leave behind improperly prepared garbage.

How to deal with liquids:

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

Tips to help:

  • Drain watery liquids from food waste before putting it in the green bin. Not all liquids can go down the drain.
  • Let fats/grease cool and harden first, then put them 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 food waste that has a high liquid content like fruits and vegetables, tea bags and coffee grounds.

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. 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 put out each week.
  • Placing green bin material in paper or certified compostable bag ensures that:

    • all who handle green bins are safe;
    • material doesn’t stick and remain in the bin; and
    • helps maintain cleanliness.

    When placing bins curbside remember to twist or roll bags shut. Green bins with incorrect liner bags or in the case of exposed pet waste, will be stickered and left behind.

    Exposed pet waste is a health and safety concern for everyone and must be:

    • individually bagged or
    • mixed in with other accepted green bin material in an approved bag.
  • Kitchen catcher containers and individual bags put curbside will not be collected. All bags must be inside a green bin. 
  • 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 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 to help ensure the liner drops out at collection. Liner bags that are frozen, stuck or still stretched around the rim of your green bin cannot be collected.
  • The only compostable product that is allowed in green bins are certified compostable liner bags. No other compostable products (such as cutlery, cups, coffee pods, etc.) are allowed.
  • 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.).
  • 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. 
  • Remove all packaging from spoiled food and place any recyclable packaging in your blue box.
  • Are you moving or going on vacation? Consider dropping off green bin organics at the waste management sites (fees will apply).

Why are compostable products like coffee pods, cutlery and packaging not allowed in our Green Bin program? 

The only type of compostable product accepted are certified compostable liner bags.

  • All green bin organics get turned into compost at Guelph's organics processing facility within a 6-8 week process. This facility's license allows for certified compostable liner bags only; no other compostable 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.

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

Ask the Waste Whiz!

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