Landfill and Recycling Centre

The Region is responsible for a number of waste management sites and facilities:

  • The Cambridge Waste Management site which is located at 201 Savage Drive and approximately 137.6 hectares, includes a public drop-off area, large waste transfer building, and compost pad,
  • The Waterloo Waste Management site which is located at 925 Erb Street West and approximately 126 hectares, includes a public drop-off area, environmental education centre, recycling sorting centre, and the only landfill operating in Waterloo Region, and
  • Five closed landfills 

Our sites accept waste that is produced within only Waterloo Region. Waste from other areas is not allowed.

For information on our Waste Management sites, including locations, hours, fees and services

And check out our videos, including a virtual tour of our Waterloo Waste Management site.

If you can't find the information you are looking for, please contact our Call Centre at 519-575-4400, available 24 hours a day, every day.

Centralized composting

The yard waste we collect curbside and at our public drop-off facilities is taken to our Cambridge site located at 201 Savage Drive. We receive around 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.

Other yard waste such as grass trimmings, weeds and leaves are brought to the compost pad and put into long piles called windrows. Windrows are monitored weekly, and turned occasionally to help assure good temperature, moisture and oxygen levels for the composting process. After several months, the compost is screened to remove any organics that have not fully composted and any other material. Our compost is tested to make sure it meets Provincial standards. 

Watch this video to learn more about our composting facility (and green bin composting, too). 

What happens to the mulch and compost? Giveaways!

Each year, residents of Waterloo Region can pick up small quantities of compost and mulch at no charge at our transfer stations from spring until fall (or until the first snowfall), as supplies last.

Note: The mulch we produce can work well as an underdressing to suppress weeds and retain moisture. It is not decorative. 

Compost and mulch giveaways begins April 1, 2022.

Here are the details:

  • Maximum 5 bushels per vehicle.
  • Bring your own shovel and containers.
  • Locations: the Region's Waste Management sites, 201 Savage Drive, Cambridge, and 925 Erb Street West (Gate 2), Waterloo. Open Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. These sites are closed to residents on statutory and designated holidays. Our sites may be busy, particularly on Saturdays, so we appreciate your patience.

While we do our best to keep bunkers stocked, we can't guarantee that material will be available for pick-up. 

 

Our landfill

The Waterloo landfill is located at 925 Erb Street West (Gate 1) and is the only operating landfill in Waterloo Region. 

The City of Waterloo opened the landfill in 1972 and managed it until 1973. When the Region of Waterloo was formed in 1973, the Region took over operations. 

The area designated for garbage disposal at the Waterloo landfill is approximately 71 hectares. The area is divided up into 15 cells.

The Waterloo landfill operates under guidelines and regulations established by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). Its design and operation is engineered to reduce the environmental impacts of landfilling operations.

The Waterloo landfill protects the surrounding ecosystem with the following safeguards:

1. Leachate collection system 

Water from rain and snow filters through the waste creating a liquid called leachate. To prevent leachate from reaching the groundwater,

  • a network of pipes collect the leachate from the entire landfill site,
  • pumping stations send the leachate to the sanitary sewer, and
  • wastewater treatment plants process the leachate.

The original landfill area (OLA) of the Waterloo landfill was constructed without a bottom leachate collection system which was the design standard at that time. As technology and new standards developed, a collection system around the OLA perimeter was installed between 1987 and 2004.

The new expansion cells constructed since 1994 are fully clay-lined and have bottom leachate collection systems that meet modern design standards.

2. Clay liner

Three metres of compacted clay line the base and sides of each new landfill cell. The compacted clay helps to keep water and contaminants (the leachate) from seeping into the groundwater.

3. Landfill gas collection system

Waste buried in the landfill decomposes and produces landfill gas. Methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas, is the main component of landfill gas.

In 1993, we developed a strategy to collect landfill gas from both the older portions and new areas of the landfill. The main goals of this landfill gas collection system are to minimize emissions to the atmosphere, underground gas migration, and off-site odours.

The gas is collected through a network of pipes that connect vertical gas extraction wells and horizontal collection trenches. Valve chambers, mechanical blowers, and landfill gas flares are other important components of the gas collection system.

The landfill gas is moved to one location for flaring or re-use. Flares were used prior to our partnerships:

  • Since 1995, the Region has partnered with Toromont Energy to use the landfill gas to generate electricity. The Region owns and operates the gas collection system and supplies the landfill gas to Toromont Energy. Toromont owns and operates an electrical generating station and sells the power and emission credits under Ontario's Pilot Emission Reduction Trading (PERT) program to Ontario Power Generation (OPG). OPG then provides green electricity to residents within the community. Currently, between 4,000 and 6,000 houses are provided with electricity from this renewable power source. The power plant is anticipated to operate 24 hours a day for the next 50 years.
  • The landfill gas collection system at our Cambridge site was established in 1994. Since 1996, the Region has  partnered with Gerdau Ameristeel, a steel manufacturer, to use the landfill gas in their reheat furnace and reduce their need for natural gas.

4. Litter control fencing

Litter control fences border our Waste Management sites. Portable litter screens are moved around the active landfill areas (tipping face) of the Waterloo landfill as needed to provide extra litter control.

5. Daily and intermediate cover

At the end of each work day, waste is covered to prevent blowing litter, discourage pests from getting into the garbage, and reduce odours. The Waterloo landfill uses three different types of daily cover: 15 centimeters of soil, a reusable plastic tarp, and spray-on mulch. The tarp and spray-on mulch save space in the landfill.

Intermediate cover consists of about 30 centimeters of soil placed in inactive areas of the landfill where waste was placed. The intermediate cover provides a temporary cap until waste is placed in the area again.

6. Clay capping and seeding

Once a landfill cell reaches its maximum height, one metre of compacted clay is placed to close it. Then, a layer of topsoil is added, and grass seed is sowed. For more details about closing the landfill, please go to the section below.

 

Landfill environmental monitoring programs

Stormwater management and monitoring

The Waterloo landfill currently has five stormwater ponds to handle surface water run-off. Surface water runs into ditches and drains into onsite stormwater ponds. These ponds are monitored on a regular basis to ensure provincial surface water quality objectives are met. Silt that builds up is removed when required and used as daily cover. The ponds are naturalized to blend with the existing wetlands in the area. 

Groundwater monitoring

Staff regularly sample and test over 180 monitoring wells located at the Waterloo landfill. Since the original landfill area is not fully lined at the base, as was the practice in the 1970s to prevent impacted groundwater from moving off-site, an extraction system was installed. The system pumps the affected groundwater to a surface water ditch and pond. Impacted groundwater is treated as it reacts with the oxygen in the air, resulting in surface water that meets applicable provincial guidelines.

Air quality monitoring

The Region monitors the air quality down-wind of the landfill and compares it to the up-wind air quality as well as against criteria set out by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). In addition to the MECP required monitoring, the Region monitors air quality in community surveys and in landfill walkover surveys.

Since 2004, the Waterloo Region Landfill Liaison Committee and planning staff have introduced a clause on property for new subdivisions and commercial sites in the area. This clause states: "Due to its proximity to the Waterloo Waste Management Facility, odour levels on this property may occasionally cause concern to some individuals."

If you have concerns about landfill odours, please use the online form.

When the landfill closes

The Waterloo landfill will reach capacity in approximately 25 years. When full, the site will hold approximately 15 million cubic metres of garbage.

In April 1991, after evaluating various options, the official After Use Plan for the Waterloo landfill was developed. This plan has been approved by the Province. The final end use will allow for recreational uses such as hiking, biking and walking in an environment.

As areas of the landfill are closed, the Region naturalizes the completed slopes of the Waterloo landfill to blend in with the nearby forest. Nine naturalized areas have been completed since 1997. Each area is first prepared with clay capping, topsoil, seeding, peat, compost and wood chips. Native species of shallow-rooted trees and shrubs are then planted. These areas are regularly evaluated and are maintained as required. The revegetated areas at the Waterloo landfill cover an area of 2.8 hectares and contain over 11,250 trees and shrubs. 

Closing a landfill site requires final cover (capping) materials, surface drainage, leachate control and landfill gas management systems. The landfill will continue to be monitored after the closure and the environmental control systems will be maintained.

A long-term sustainable option for dealing with garbage is being guided by our Waste Management Master Plan.

Closed landfills

There are five closed landfills in Waterloo Region which are monitored by the Region of Waterloo:

  1. Ayr Landfill, operated from 1967 to 1987, covers 1.9 hectares and has approximately 70,000 metric tonnes of waste. It is a passive open space.
  2. Cambridge Landfill, located at 201 Savage Drive, opened in 1973 and closed in 2003, has approximately 3 million tonnes of waste. Thirty-six hectares were licensed for waste disposal. This area has been capped and re-vegetated, and a maintenance and monitoring program is in place. While the landfill portion of the site has been closed, the Cambridge Waste Management site is a full-service facility and an integral part of our waste management operations.
  3. Cheese Factory Road Landfill, operated from 1960 to 1987, covers 4.1 hectares and has approximately 15,000 tonnes of waste. It is a passive open space.
  4. McLennan Park (Kitchener Landfill) is a 39-hectare site located at 901 Ottawa Street South, Kitchener. Approximately 2 million tonnes were landfilled between 1958 to 1978. The City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo entered into a lease agreement to develop the former landfill into a city park. McLennan Park currently offers a number of amenities for outdoor active use.
  5. Woolwich Landfill, operated from 1965 to 1986, covers 5.3 hectares and has about 52,000 tonnes of waste. It is a passive open space. 

Waterloo Region Liaison Committee

 The Waterloo Region Landfill Liaison Committee was formed in 1993 for the Waterloo Landfill Site to:

  • Provide regular and effective communication between the Region and local residents,
  • Cooperatively resolve operational issues, and
  • Provide updates to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). (The Region submits meeting minutes to the MECP.).

The residents on the committee select and retain independent consultants (paid by the Region) to provide support on their behalf. The consultants advise on technical matters regarding landfill monitoring and operations.

Meetings are held once every three months at 7 p.m. at the Waterloo Waste Management site (Administration Building, 925 Erb Street West (Gate 1), Waterloo, Ontario N2J 3Z4). These meetings are open to the public; residents do not need to call ahead to attend. Please refer to the schedule below.

2022 meeting schedule for the Waterloo Region Landfill Liaison Committee: 

  • Tuesday, February 1, 2022
  • Tuesday, May 3, 2022
  • Tuesday, August 23, 2022
  • Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Note: In 2021, meetings were held on February 2, May 4, September 7, and November 16. 

If you have questions about this committee or want more information about their meetings, please email us.

 

Nyle Ludolph Materials Recycling Centre

 

Nyle Ludolph holding a globeDid you know that the blue box is a local invention? Nyle Ludolph, pictured here (photo courtesy of Studio 404, Guelph) has been credited with developing the world's very first residential recycling program in 1983 for Kitchener, Ontario. Check out our proud history of recycling in Waterloo Region

When our Materials Recycling Centre opened, it was the first community-sized sorting centre in Ontario! It was renamed in Mr. Ludolph's honour in April, 2012.

Over 35,000 metric tonnes of recyclables are collected each year through our Blue Box and Blue and Grey Cart programs and sorted at our NLMRC. Once sorted, the materials are sold and shipped by trailer loads to various markets.

 

How does the Nyle Ludolph Material Recycling Centre work?

Our collection contractors' trucks have two compartments: one for Paper Products and Plastic Bags, and the other for Containers. When their trucks are full, they come to our building, located at 925 Erb Street West, Gate 1, Waterloo, and

  • Drop the Paper Products and Plastic Bags in the east side of the building. This material is then loaded into tractor trailers and hauled to Niagara Recycling for sorting.A loader full of blue box recyclables
  • Drop the Containers in the west side of the building. These materials are loaded on a conveyor belt and each material type is separated by machines or by staff. For example, a magnet picks out the steel cans. 

Watch this video for a quick overview or get a "behind-the-scenes" look at this sorting facility by going on a virtual tour.

Marketing recyclables

Ensuring recyclables are sorted properly is key to selling them to market.

In early 2018, China stopped receiving shipments of mixed recyclables. As a result, North American markets were flooded with recyclables and have tightened their rules. Standards for acceptable recyclables have increased. This means that there is very low tolerance for any unacceptable material (contamination) mixed in with loads.

The good news is that we can produce marketable materials! Everyone - collection crews, residents, and staff at the sorting centre - all play important parts. Together we can meet the demanding requirements and maximize revenues (which help pay for program costs). Your help in sorting your recyclables, such as the two-box sort, does make a difference. 

The sorted materials we produce are managed in Ontario, Quebec and northern and east south-central regions of the United States. Most materials are shipped offsite. However, glass is kept and reused onsite. Glass is mixed with rubble, concrete and crushed toilets (more reuse!) and used for landfill roadbed and support for landfill gas collection pipe, instead of gravel.

Map of south-western Ontario with information about where various recyclables are taken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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