Waste Collection Requirements

This page provides information about the residential waste collection services that the Region of Waterloo offers eligible residents within Waterloo Region (City of Cambridge, City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, Township of North Dumfries, Township of Wellesley, Township of Wilmot, Township of Woolwich).

Frequently asked questions for Curbside Waste Collection Changes:

A new curbside waste collection contract is required by March 2026 to align with the end of the existing contract.  Currently, service providers are experiencing lead times of two years or more to obtain new collection vehicles. This means that the new waste collection contract should be awarded in late 2023 or early 2024, so the service provider has adequate time to have resources in place for March 2026.

What are the challenges with our current manual waste collection program?

There are on-going and evolving changes to the waste industry with major challenges around staff recruitment and retention for manual waste collection. Specifically, challenges exist due to:

  • a limited labour pool as the work requires extensive physical labour;
  • working in adverse conditions due to nuisances, weather, type of work, and negative perceptions; and
  • health and safety risks with on-going lifting of heavy waste materials, and slips, trips and falls from exiting and entering a truck.

Based on industry research, it will be difficult to receive competitive bids from service providers to continue to provide manual waste collection for garbage and organics.

What are the benefits by converting to automated cart collection for garbage and organics?

  • Health and safety to reduce injuries for workers
  • Efficiencies for stop times curbside which introduces opportunities for efficiencies in route logistics
  • Mitigating safety risks by having the driver inside the vehicle, using 360 degree cameras to view the area outside of the truck
  • Reduce litter from windy days, and pests
  • Create consistency in containers and aesthetics curbside
  • Staff recruitment for contractors, while diversifying the workforce. This also aligns with the Region of Waterloo’s Strategic Plan to create a competitive business-supportive community to help attract, retain and grow employers, talent and investments in Waterloo Region (Thriving Economy Focus Area Objective 1.1).

How will bulky items, yard waste and Christmas trees be collected?

Items such as bulky or large metal items, yard waste and Christmas trees will continue to be collected manually due to the variable quantity of waste and size limit of a cart for large items.

Why is the Region looking to change the collection schedule from five days to four days?

Changing waste collection from five days (Monday to Friday) to four days (Tuesday to Friday) will:

  • Reduce collection on statutory holidays which typically are on Mondays
  • Build in a back-up day for collections in case of inclement weather or unplanned interruptions
  • Allow for re-balancing of routes, to create efficiencies and optimization to accommodate growth in new neighbourhoods and distance travelled to unload at the Waterloo and Cambridge Waste Management sites
  • Support staff recruitment and retention for the contractor by offering a four day work week and most statutory holidays off

Why is the Region looking to use alternative fuels to power the fleet?

Alternative fuel sources such as compressed natural gas or renewable natural gas will be recommended:

  • due to the unpredictable fuel costs of diesel; and
  • to align with the Region of Waterloo’s Strategic Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Environment and Climate Action Focus Area Objective 3.1) through the introduction of an alternative fuel powered fleet.

Who will receive waste collection services?

Service levels will remain the same for single-family homes, duplexes, 3 to 6 unit buildings, and multi-family units and townhouses that meet truck-access criteria. Staff will examine the level of service for curbside waste collection for Industrial, Commercial and Institutional properties that currently receive curbside collection and report back to Committee with options for consideration.

What other municipalities in Ontario use automated cart collection?

Many municipalities collect their waste with carts. Some examples are:

City of Guelph

City of Toronto

Peel Region

Simcoe County

Curbside Waste Collection Changes Related Council Reports

February 7, 2023 - Curbside Waste Collection Changes

May 7, 2024 - P2023-33 Automated Cart-Based, and Manual Waste Collection, and Supply, Initial Distribution and On-Going Maintenance of Carts Within the Region of Waterloo (see page 127)

To report a collection concern:

  1. Crews start collecting at 7 a.m. and have into the evening to collect. 
  2. Please refrain from approaching crews and communicating with them; report any issues directly to the Region.
  3. Check to see if collection crews left behind an Oops sticker to indicate a problem.
  4. If there is no sticker, your items were set out by 7 a.m., and it's into the evening, keep your items at the curb and complete the online form. Include your email address and/or phone number so staff can follow-up with you.
  5. If you would prefer to call, you can contact our 24/7 Customer Service Call Centre at 519-575-4400.

Is your address eligible for curbside waste collection?

Use Waste Whiz to find out if you are eligible to receive our waste collection services. Select the Calendar tab and type in your address in the search box. If you are eligible, your collection schedule will be listed. If you are not eligible, contact your landlord or property manager to find out what waste collection services they have set up. 

Are you an off-campus student?

If you are a post-secondary student living off-campus, contact your landlord, they are responsible to orientate you to waste collection systems at your building and provide you with the correct containers. All curbside waste collection rules and information outlined below and on this website apply to off-campus homes that receive our curbside waste collection services. 

Collection services

The Region of Waterloo's curbside waste collection services focus on residential waste. 

  1. Single-family homes, legal duplexes, farms and rural homes, small apartment buildings (six or fewer units), and townhouse complexes that meet our collection guidelines are eligible for the following programs:
  • Bulky Item for items that do not fit into a standard sized garbage can or bag - every second week collection (same week as garbage collection), limits apply
  • Garbage - collected every second week, limits apply. Use garbage tags for garbage over the limit. If you have a medical condition that generates unavoidable garbage, consider applying for a medical exemption.
  • Green Bin for household organics - collected every week, no limits on the number of green bins
  • Yard Waste - seasonal (usually end of March to early December), every second week (opposite week of garbage), no limit to the number of containers, paper yard waste bags, or bundles
  • Christmas tree collection (natural trees only) - collected each week for two weeks after Christmas

Download our free Waste Whiz app to set reminders, receive collection alerts, and have the handy item search box at your fingertips. And there's a fun sorting game to play, too!

Collection rules

  • Set out items by 7 a.m. on your collection day. Note: The earliest you can set out is 5 p.m. the day before collection.
  • Collection crews start at 7 a.m. and their routes change without notice. They work into the early evening.
  • Different trucks pick up different materials at different times on your collection day. Collection times vary week to week and change depending on weather, road conditions, construction delays, and other factors.
  • Set out items as close to the street as possible, in a safe and accessible spot at the end of your driveway, at ground level. Ideally, on the right hand side. Items placed behind or on top of snowbanks, or on opposite side of sidewalks cannot be collected.
  • Remove empty containers and uncollected items from the curb no later than 9 a.m. the day after your collection day. 
  • Keep items visible. Please do not place items behind parked cars, light posts or snowbanks. Brush off any snow that may build up.
  • Do not overfill green bins, garbage cans and other containers. Ensure each container or bundle is no heavier than 23 kilograms (50 pounds). 
  • Collection crews sticker and leave behind unacceptable items. Oops stickers help explain and correct curbside mistakes.
  • Waste limits apply at all times, including during moving and home renovations.
  • Use the our Waste Whiz search tool to find out how to prepare an item for disposal. 
  • Check out our webpages for details about the correct types of containers to use, acceptable items and other details about our programs: bulky itemgarbagegreen binyard waste.  
  • Our Waste Collection Guidelines outline waste collection programs and services as well as help determine the eligibility of various types of properties including new developments and multi-unit properties, protocols for construction projects and road closures, and other requirements. 

Collection during the holidays

Curbside waste collection continues on all holidays except for Christmas Day and New Years Day. When these days fall on weekdays, collection will be moved. We will advertise the holiday collection schedule on our website, on social media and through our Waste Whiz app. Our waste management sites and offices are closed on all statutory and designated holidays.

There will be no curbside waste collection on Monday, December 25, 2023 and Monday, January 1, 2024.

During these two weeks your collection day moves by one day:

  • Monday collected on Tuesday
  • Tuesday collected on Wednesday
  • Wednesday collected on Thursday
  • Thursday collected on Friday
  • Friday collected on Saturday

After certain holidays (January 1, Easter, Thanksgiving, and December 25), double the amount of garbage can be set out. For details, please go our garbage page.

Tree-cycle from January 2 to 12, 2024:

For two weeks after Christmas Day, we collect natural Christmas trees (which we chip into mulch). 

  • Set it out by 7 a.m. on your collection day. 
  • Keep it natural! Remove all lights, ornaments, and stands. Do not bag.
  • Cut trees in half that are longer than 1.8 meters (6 feet). 
  • Keep it visible and accessible for collection crews. Do not place your tree on or behind a snowbank.

Disposal options after our special Christmas tree collection program has ended:

  1. Look for ways to reuse it. There are lots of ideas online such as creating coasters, bird feeders and more.
  2. Drop off your natural tree at our waste management sites so that it is chipped up into mulch. Fees will apply.
  3. Set it to the curb for collection. It will count as a Bulky Item and go to landfill.

What about artificial trees? 

If you set an artificial tree to the curb, it will be collected as a bulky item. 

Collection in a construction zone

For new developments, project managers are responsible to work with our staff to ensure the development meets our waste collection guidelines and our collection crews can safely and efficiently collect waste. At times, new homes may be occupied, but due to the road conditions and other factors, our collection crews cannot provide service. In these cases, the developer is responsible to manage waste set out.

As well, when streets are under construction for watermain replacement, resurfacing or other reasons, waste collection vehicles cannot safely or directly access the items you set out. Managers of the construction project are responsible to arrange changes to waste collection with our staff, and provide you with instructions. In most cases, construction crews will move all the waste to certain location(s) on adjoining streets which are accessible to our collection crews.

If you are living in a construction zone, please

  • Write your address on each of your blue boxes, green bins and garbage cans, using permanent marker. This helps your containers to be returned to you.
  • Use garbage bags instead of garbage cans.
  • Ensure all of your items are prepared correctly.
    • Do not overfill containers.
    • Keep within the limits for garbage and bulky items.
    • Keep within the weight limit of 23 kilograms (50 pounds) for each container, garbage bag, and bundle.
    • Ensure each container can support its contents. For example, ensure paper yard waste bags do not tear with lifted.
  • Set out items on schedule, such as every-second-week collection schedule for garbage/bulky items, and seasonal yard waste.
  • Follow the set-out times required by the construction project manager. It may be earlier than 7 a.m.
  • Keep informed. The Region and local municipalities provide information about construction projects. 

Collection issues: Oops stickers

Oops stickers are an educational tool to help inform residents of an issue and help guide them. Check the Waste Whiz search tool for sorting and preparation details and download our Waste Whiz app to access to your calendar and get reminders. 

Pink = Not allowed

An item may be not allowed for collection because it is unaccepted in our system, improperly prepared, health and safety issues or there may be By-law requirements

Blue = Not bundled properly

Items like lumber, branches and carpet have to be cut to size and tied correctly so that collection crews can pick them up safely and to ensure bundles can fit into their trucks.

Turquoise = Too heavy

Each green bin, garbage bag/can, bundle and yard waste bag/can must be no heavier than 23 kilograms (50 pounds). Consider splitting up the material in separate containers/bundles and set out on your next collection day.

The maximum weight for a bulky item is 90 kilograms (200 pounds). Some items such as pool tables, cast iron bathtubs and pianos, exceed the weight limit and are not collected at the curb.

Green = Wrong/missing green bin bag or liner

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.

Purple = Too many

This sticker is used when the limit for garbage bags/cans or bulky items has been exceeded. Please,

  • Remove the item(s) from the curb that were not collected and set it out on your next collection day or drop off items at one of our waste management sites (fees will apply).
  • Remember to use a garbage bag tag for each garbage bag/can above the limit.

Orange = Contents were frozen

Items were frozen to the container at the time of collection. 

  • Make sure your containers are clean and dry before you place materials in it.
  • Bag/bundle paper and boxboard before you put them in your blue box.
  • Place a paper egg carton or balled up newsprint at bottom of your green bin before lining the bin.
  • Drain liquids before placing organics in a liner bag.
  • Loosen liner bag(s) when setting the green bin to the curb.

Yellow = Wrong week

Garbage, bulky items and seasonal yard waste are not collected every week. Remove your item(s) from the curb and put them back out on your next scheduled collection day. Christmas trees have a specific collection period. Check the holiday section for details.

Moving out tips

Plan ahead. We know it’s a busy time for you, but please figure out what you need to set to the curb or donate ahead of time.

  • The number of bulky items you can set out is limited every second week. Any Bulky Items above the limit will not be collected.
  • You may need to purchase garbage bag tags. Any garbage bags or cans over the limit have to be tagged to be collected.
  • Gather batteries, unused or expired medication, fluorescent light bulbs including the curly compact ones and other household hazardous waste for drop off at local businesses/retailers or at our Household Hazardous Waste depots.
  • Clean and leave behind the blue boxes and green bins, or the reusable recycling bags (for multi-unit buildings). These containers belong to the address, not the occupants.
  • Sort through your clothing and household items. Donate things you no longer want or need.
  • Sort through your food. Consider donating food you no longer want to local food banks, as appropriate. For food that has expired, remove packaging,
    • rinse and recycle packaging that is accepted in the Blue Box program
    • place food in the green bin, if your building complex participates in this program 

Windy weather setout tips

  1. Don't set items to the curb the night before collection if a storm or high winds are expected.
  2. Place your items at the curb by 7 a.m. on the day of collection if the weather is better.
  3. If it is still windy/stormy, consider waiting until the next collection week.
  4. Do not overfill containers.
  5. Write your address on your blue boxes, green bin, and garbage can in permanent marker. This makes it easier for them to be returned.
  6. Prepare your blue box materials so that they do not blow away: 
    • Crush containers so aren't as easily lifted by wind. (Do not bag containers - keep them loose in your blue box.)
    • Stuff all plastic bags in one bag and tie the handles of the outer bag. Then put paper in a plastic grocery bag and tie the handles of the bag. Place the bag with paper, on top of the bag of bags.
    • Flatten, size, and bundle corrugated cardboard.

Thanks for preventing litter in our community!

Summer setout tips

  1. Rinse all food and beverage containers before placing them in your blue box.
  2. Bury food scraps in your green bin liner bag with paper waste (such as shredded paper).
  3. Keep lids on your kitchen container and green bin closed at all times. 
  4. Set all items on the curb for collection by 7 a.m. on your collection day. Do not set them out the night before.

  5. Replace broken or cracked blue boxesgreen bins and garbage cans.
  6. Clean your blue boxes, green bins, and garbage cans often. Freshen them up with:
    • a natural deodorizer such as baking soda 
    • citronella, an essential oil, (smear the oil on the outside rim of your container to deter flies)
    • a spray made out of half white vinegar and half water to deal with fruit flies.

Winter setout tips

Use the following tips to help keep pedestrians, vehicles and our collection crews safe, and collection efficient in cold and snowy conditions:

Snow shoveled ledge with containers out for collectionMake sure items are easily accessible. Items on top of snowbanks, and items that have been plowed in/covered with snow will not be collected. 

  • Place the items either at the end of your driveway. 
  • Or shovel a shelf in the snowbank near the end of your driveway. Please make sure the shelf is on the road-side, not the sidewalk-side.
  • Do not place items on top of snowbanks.
  • Clear any snow and ice that may accumulate.

Ensure items are visible: 

  • Use black or green garbage bags. Do not set out garbage in white garbage bags.
  • Do not set items behind snowbanks, parked cars, shrubs or lamp posts.
  • Brush off snow that may accumulate on your items.
  • Set your items on the right-hand side of your driveway (looking from your house towards the street). This makes it easier for the collectors to see your items when they are driving down the street. 

Make your green bin easy to empty out:

  • Drain liquids from organics first.
  • Place a paper egg carton or balled up newsprint on the bottom of your green bin. This helps lift the liner bag from the bottom of the bin.
  • Loosen the liner bag from the sides when you set your green bin out for collection.

Place items out the day of collection by 7 a.m., rather than the night before.

Consider not setting out your waste during major snow events.

Remove your empty containers promptly. Prevent them from getting buried with snow, blowing around or damaged. Make sure your address is written on your containers, too!

Please note:

  • Collection crews do their best to empty your containers but sometimes contents are frozen when they arrive. By the time you retrieve your containers, contents may be thawed/loose. Please set these items out on your next collection.
  • Be mindful of your neighbour's containers. If you are blowing snow, try to avoid burying the containers they've set out.

Should I share a stop with my neighbour?

When you share a stop, you are placing your waste items beside your neighbour's items. This can be helpful if there's limited curbside space. And it is appreciated by collection crews since each of them make approximately 1,000 stops each day. However, with limits on garbage and bulky items, items over the limit could be stickered and left behind by collection crews.

Here are some tips to make sharing a stop work:

  • Only share a stop with your neighbour for waste that does not have any limits, such as blue boxes, green bins and yard waste.
  • Place green bins and blue boxes in between your and your neighbour's garbage and bulky items.
  • If you share a driveway, each household should put their waste on different sides of the driveway.
  • Using permanent marker, write your address on all of your blue boxes, green bins and other containers.

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