March 30, 2022
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 2021, spring cleaning efforts saw more than 944 tonnes of litter removed from public spaces.
The City’s Litter Operations run 20 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.
- The City has approximately 11,300 garbage/recycling street bins across Toronto, and 10,000 garbage/recycling/green bins in City parks.
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).
- Single-use drink cups, paper towels/napkins and masks are the most common large litter items in Toronto (about four square inches in size).
- The City has seen an increase in the amount of litter since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with more people enjoying Toronto’s public spaces. To address this, the City has increased the amount of waste bins in high-traffic parks and allocated more staff to litter clearing and monitoring of bins across Toronto’s waterfront parks and beaches.
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
- Inspection of park amenities and infrastructure, including paths and trails, for winter damage cleaning of benches, bins and transit shelters
Spring 2021 cleanup efforts by the numbers:
As part of the City’s 2021 spring cleanup efforts, more than 944 tonnes of litter was removed from public spaces such as sidewalks, boulevards, culverts, laneways and walkways. Among other items, this included:
- 128 discarded tires
- 3,755 posters
- 312 abandoned bikes
- 355 metal appliances
- 5,820 bulk items
Various staff and equipment are involved in the citywide spring cleanup. In 2021, this included approximately:
- 45 pick-up trucks
- 45 City litter vacuums
- 23 contracted litter vacuums
- 5 street sweepers
- 68 full-time staff
- 85 seasonal staff
Learn more about the prevalence and effects of litter in Toronto, and what residents can do to help at Toronto.ca/Litter.