Fact Sheet
March 30, 2023

The City of Toronto works diligently throughout the year to keep public spaces vibrant and beautiful, with dedicated efforts made early in the spring to refresh streets, parks, and ravines after the winter. In 2022, spring cleaning efforts saw more than 763 tonnes of litter removed from public spaces.

The City’s Litter Operations run 16 hours per day, seven days a week. Litter costs the City millions of dollars a year to clean up and can have harmful effects on the environment and pose risks to both animals and people. Everyone has a role to play in keeping Toronto clean and safe. The public can do their part by properly disposing of items in available street and park bins and not littering items on the ground.

Ongoing efforts to keep Toronto clean:

  • Litter cleanup along major arterial streets, sidewalks, and laneways.
  • Collection of waste from public space litter bins located within the public right of way and from waste bins in parks and on beaches.
  • Manual (i.e., staff with bag and broom) and mechanical (i.e., sidewalk sweepers, litter vacuums, backpack blowers, specialized pick-up trucks and pressure washers) methods to maintain the cleanliness of the public right of way.
  • Approximately 11,000 garbage/recycling street bins across Toronto and 10,000 garbage/recycling/green bins in City parks.
  • Increased number of waste bins in high-traffic parks across Toronto’s waterfront parks and beaches.

Most common litter items in Toronto’s public spaces:

  • Cigarette butts and chewing gum continue to be the most common small litter items in Toronto (less than 10 cm in length, width and/or height).
  • Paper towels/napkins, plastic packaging and single-use drink cups and lids are the most common large litter items in Toronto (about 10 square cm in size).

While the City has observed a small decrease in the average amount of small litter since 2020, more progress can be made.

Annual citywide spring cleanup:
Every year, the City does a month-long spring cleanup that helps to refresh streets, parks, ravines and other public spaces after the winter. It also enhances road and sidewalk safety, helps to improve air quality and contributes to cleaner and safer green spaces for people and animals by removing litter, garbage or debris from illegal dumping that can negatively affect waterways, aquatic life, animals, soil, plants and trees.

Common seasonal cleanup activities include:

  • Street sweeping
  • Graffiti removal
  • Abandoned bike removal
  • Tree pruning
  • Old poster and illegal sign removal
  • Cleanup of litter and illegal dumping
  • Snow fencing removal and fence-line litter clearing
  • Removal of debris such as tree branches, brush and mulching of leaves as well as blowing/clearing of sport courts and roads
  • Power washing of medians and bridges
  • Inspection of park amenities and infrastructure, including paths and trails, for winter damage cleaning of benches, bins and transit shelters

Spring 2022 cleanup efforts by the numbers:
As part of the City’s 2022 spring cleanup efforts, more than 763 tonnes of litter was removed from public spaces such as sidewalks, boulevards, culverts, laneways, and walkways. Among other items, this included:

  • 225 discarded tires
  • 2116 posters
  • 779 abandoned bikes
  • 62 metal appliances
  • 5983 bulk items

Various staff and equipment are involved in the citywide spring cleanup. In 2022, this included approximately:

  • 40 pick-up trucks
  • 44 City-owned litter vacuums
  • 29 contracted litter vacuums
  • 8 street sweepers
  • 65 full-time staff
  • 50 seasonal staff
  • 600 parks staff

Toronto has 5,780 km of roads and of 776 km sidewalks.

Learn more about the prevalence and effects of litter in Toronto on the City’s litter webpage.

Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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