Contamination in the Blue Bin Recycling Program
Recycling mistakes could cost you, when you put the wrong things in your Blue Bin, you ruin your recycling.  This means perfectly good recyclables end up in the landfill creating extra cost for the City and you. For more details, please view the sample mailed to households.

  • Solid Waste Management Services is inspecting Blue Bins and tagging and not collecting those that are found to have contamination.
  • While a cost-recovery fee may need to be implemented in the future, Solid Waste Management Services will continue to monitor the effectiveness through public education.
  • Plastic containers with food residue/remnants should be rinsed and put in the Blue Bin, refer to the Waste Wizard for a complete list on solutions for residents receiving curbside collection, the basic sorting information is also applicable to those without curbside service, who should continue to follow their established building's set out protocol.

Some examples of plastics accepted in the Blue Bin are:

  • milk bags (inner pouches and outer bag)
  • food containers, e.g. peanut butter jars (rinsed and free of residue)
  • select types of bread bags (non-foil)
  • sandwich bags (e.g.re-sealable type bags)
  • bulk food bags
  • produce bags
  • dry cleaning bags
  • newspaper / flyer bags
  • garden soil, manure or compost bags
  • road salt bags
  • diaper and feminine hygiene outer bags
  • frozen fruit bags (not stand-up pouch type)
  • frozen vegetable bags (not stand-up pouch type)
  • transparent recycling bags
  • over-wrap from toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, water and soft drink packaging

Residents can put the following items in their Blue Bin (recycling bin). No sorting of recyclables is required. You can mix containers (e.g. bottles and cans) and paper products together in your Blue Bin. You may either bundle your bags inside one bag or put bags in loose. However, you should empty and rinse all containers/bags to remove residue prior to placing them in the Blue Bin. Recyclables which are not rinsed clean will contaminate other items in the bin and could attract pests.

Contamination in the Blue Bin background information
The City of Toronto sells recyclable materials to recycling processors who use the products for various end uses. The Material Recovery Facility (MRF) that the City uses to separate recyclable material can separate some contaminated items, but there is a functional limit to the amount that it can remove. This poses an issue to the City because most recycling processors can tolerate a small amount of contamination in the recycling loads that they buy from the City, but too much contamination can cause these recycling processors to reject whole loads of otherwise readily recyclable material. This is an issue for the City and residents because it can lead to a reduction in revenue and an increase to the processing fees that the City pays. In addition, recycling loads that are rejected due to contamination may be sent to landfill, which has negative environmental consequences.

Note: Bed bug infested recyclables should be placed in black garbage bags and disposed of in the garbage bin.

Acceptable Recyclable items:

  • Cardboard Cans: Such as refrigerated dough, frozen juice, chips, nuts, powdered drink mix, baby formula & powdered cleanser containers. Put loose metal end inside cardboard can and pinch closed. Discard plastic pull-off strip and/or peel-off seal
  • Mixed rigid plastic: clamshell containers, clear fruit and vegetable containers, clear takeout containers and molded bakery-item trays, plastic egg cartons, disposable plastic plates and cups, clear compact disk cases (empty).
  • Plastic food jars, tubs & lids: such as margarine, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese & sour cream containers
  • Plastic bottles & jugs: with lids securely fastened
  • Milk/Juice Cartons
  • Empty paint cans & lids: lids must be separated from the can
  • Metal cans: put lid inside can and pinch closed
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • LCBO alcohol beverage containers - but you will forfeit the deposit (10 or 20 cents) that you paid at the time of purchase
  • Rigid aluminium trays, pie plates & roasting pans
  • Drink boxes: Remove & discard straws
  • Corrugated cardboard: clean, unwaxed, flattened & placed in bin
  • Plastic grocery & retail bags: without drawstrings, metal detailing or hard plastic handles. Remove receipts and put bags in one bag & tie handles closed
  • Foam polystyrene: such as protective packaging, meat trays, takeout food containers, plates, egg cartons & coffee cups. (The City sends Polystyrene to Canada Fibers Ltd.)
  • Household paper: includes junk mail, writing paper, computer paper, flyers & envelopes. Shredded paper put in clear plastic bag & tie closed & place in the blue bin (this is the only exception where recycling can be placed in a clear bag)
  • Paper gift wrap & cards: remove ribbons and bows
  • Paper egg cartons, rolls & bags
  • Empty aerosol cans - remove & discard lids
  • Boxboard boxes: such as cardboard, cereal, tissue & detergent boxes. Remove liners, plastic windows & flatten boxes
  • Newspapers & telephone directories, magazines, catalogues & books
  • Recyclable paper - Most paper should be placed in the blue bin for recycling. These items include:

    • Corrugated cardboard - clean unwaxed, flattened & placed in the bin
    • Pizza Boxes must be empty
    • Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, telephone directories, books (soft & hardcover) - plastic covers removed
    • Boxboard boxes such as cardboard cereal, tissue, and detergent boxes - remove liners, plastic windows, and flatten
    • Household paper: junk mail, writing paper, computer paper, flyers & envelopes
    • Shredded paper: place in a clear plastic bag & tie closed and place in the Bin. (this is the ONLY exception for the use of clear bags)

    Learn what to do with your waste materials, search the Waste Wizard for proper disposal methods.

    Note: Drywall is accepted as recycling ONLY at depots that accept recycling (note Bermondsey, Commissioners and Ingram are the only depots that accept drywall: http://www.toronto.ca/garbage/depots.htm) You cannot place drywall in your blue bin.

    Prohibited items:

    • biodegradable plastic containers and film (e.g. compostable plastic bags)
    • any type of black coloured plastic
    • laminated plastic film (e.g. chip bags and stand-up resealable pouch bags)
    • snack food bags (potato chips, peanuts, cookies)
    • foil gift wrap
    • aluminum foil
    • coffee pods - both regular and compostable (e.g. Keurig, Tassimo)
    • wallpaper
    • paper that is soiled or wax-coated
    • meat wrapping paper (butchers paper) should be placed in the garbage bin
    • Plastic pre-packaging for meat and cheese (plastic is not soft, stretchy)
    • Household cling wrap (is made of PVC - poly vinyl chloride, which is not a recyclable product)
    • cellophane (e.g. gift basket wrap)
    • cereal liners
    • pool covers
    • shower liners
    • boat wrap
    • plastic bubble wrap
    • candy bar wrappers
    • waxed cardboard (must be placed in garbage)
    • paper items that are wax coated (many frozen food boxes) or soiled with food (e.g. paper towels/tissues, coffee filters, sugar/flour bags, etc.) belong in the green bin.
    • other items that should be placed in the green bin are soiled paper fast food wrapping (no foil), paper plates & ice cream boxes

    Related information: