Ask the Waste Wizard to find out where and how to properly dispose of an item.


The Importance of Recycling Right

Bad things happen when non-recyclable material is placed in the Blue Bin. How Bad? Bad enough that it can damage equipment, cause workplace injuries at the recycling facility and ruin otherwise perfectly good recyclables. Contaminated recycling is currently costing the City millions annually and last year an estimated 55,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material was incorrectly put in the Blue Bin. That’s a  problem you can help fix. The City has teamed up with Jack “the Coach” Armstrong to help educate residents about how to recycle right.

Blue Bin Inspections

The City is inspecting Blue Bins and those that are found to have a significant amount of non-recyclable material are being tagged and not collected. Homeowners with tagged bins are being given a Recycling Guide and notice indicating why the bin was not collected and instructing them to remove the contamination before the next recycling collection day.

In the future, to help offset the costs associated with contaminated recycling, the City may require a cost recovery payment from those homeowners who set out contaminated recycling bins.

Important Information About Coffee Pods

All coffee pods, including those that are labelled or marketed as “recyclable,” must be disposed of in the garbage or brought back to retailers/manufacturers who have return programs.

The City does not accept coffee pods in its Blue Bin recycling or Green Bin organics programs.

The City of Toronto recently commissioned research related to disposal of single-serve coffee and tea pods. The findings include feedback from Toronto residents about use, attitudes and disposal behaviours.

Food and organic waste – Food scraps like apple cores, eggshells or expired leftovers belong in your Green Bin. When you mistakenly toss food scraps in your Blue Bin, food residue and particles get soaked up by paper and can ruin large batches of otherwise good recyclables.

Black plastic – Black plastic of any kind, such as take-out containers and black garbage bags aren’t accepted in the City’s recycling program. There are two main reasons for this:

  • there is no stable market for the volume of black plastic generated in Toronto
  • black plastic cannot be sorted mechanically at the recycling facility because the optical sorting technology cannot recognize it.

Please dispose of all black plastic in the garbage.

Hot beverage cups – Most disposable hot beverage cups are made of paper, but lined with plastic, which makes them difficult to sort mechanically at the recycling facility. Conventional paper mills do not want coffee cups because of their low-quality paper and inner liner, which does not pulp easily and causes clogging in the pulping process. The dyes in the paper can also affect the quality of the end paper product and make it difficult for paper mills to turn cups into other paper-based products. As a result, the City has not been able to find a stable market (i.e. buyers) for coffee cups. Please place coffee cups in the garbage. Non-black plastic lids and paper sleeves should be removed and placed in the Blue Bin.

Containers with leftover food – Please empty and rinse food containers before tossing them in your Blue Bin. When you don’t, the residue from items like jars and take-out containers get soaked up by paper and can ruin large batches of otherwise good recyclables. Put any food scraps in your Green Bin.

Clothing and textiles – Old clothes, shoes, blankets, and curtains don’t belong in the Blue Bin. They can get caught in sorting machines, damage equipment and cause workplace injuries at the recycling facility. Instead, donate items that are in good condition to not-for-profit agencies or drop them off for reuse at Community Environment Days. If your items can’t be donated, put them in the garbage.

VHS tapes, chains, hoses and electrical cords – These do not go in your Blue Bin. They can get tangled in sorting machines, damage equipment and cause workplace injuries at the recycling facility. Donate unwanted VHS tapes or see if your local electronics store’s has a recycling program. Throw unwanted cords, hoses and cables in your garbage.


  • Remove food, liquids or other contents and rinse clean before recycling.
  • Put items in loose and not bagged. Use clear plastic bag only if necessary.
  • Put shredded paper in a clear plastic bag.
  • Separate plastic bags/over-wrap from newspapers, flyers, magazines, water/soft drink cases. Recycle separately.
  • Not all items with a recycling symbol Mobius loop with three arrows making up a triangle shape are accepted in Toronto’s Blue Bin recycling program.
  • If unsure about whether or not an item can be recycled, check Waste Wizard.


  • Bottles, jars (lids on)
    Glass and Plastic containers


  • Tubs, lids
  • Clear food containers/clamshells
  • Disposable plates, cups, berry containers (black items are garbage)
  • Detergent, hand soap, shampoo bottles (lids, sprayers, pumps – on tight)
  • Beverage bottles (lids on)
  • Cat litter tubs with plastic handles
  • Plastic paint pails (empty; remove metal handles, handles are garbage)
  • Clear compact disk cases (empty; black cases are garbage)

Note: black plastic items cannot be recycled (put in garbage).

Assorted plastics and plastic wrapping

Soft, stretchy plastics

  • Outer Milk bags
  • Bread bags (non-foil)
  • Non-zipper Sandwich bags
  • Bulk food/produce bags
  • Frozen fruit/vegetable bags (no stand-up pouches)
  • Grocery/retail shopping bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Newspaper/flyer, magazine bags (separate item from bag; recycle separately)
  • Garden soil/manure/compost/road salt bags
  • Diaper/feminine hygiene outer bags
  • Over-wrap from toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, water/soft drink cases

Note: remove product before recycling.


  • Aluminum/steel cans
    (place lid in can and pinch closed)
  • Aluminum trays, burner liners, pie plates, roasting pans
  • Cookie tins
  • Aerosol cans (empty; lids on)
  • Paint cans (empty, remove lids and recycle separately)


  • Bags, advertising mail, fine paper,
    envelopes (including window)
  • Newspapers, flyers, directories, magazines, catalogues (remove over-wrap, recycle separately)
  • Gift wrap, tissue paper, cards (no ribbons, bows, foil wrap)
  • Shredded paper
    (put in clear plastic bag, tie closed)
  • Soft/hard cover books
  • Boxboard (e.g. cereal, tissue, detergent, shoe; remove liners, flatten, no freezer boxes)
  • Corrugated cardboard (clean, unwaxed, flattened; pizza boxes must be empty; remove over-wrap from water/soft drink cases, recycle separately)
  • Rolls (toilet, paper towel, wrapping paper)
  • Milk/juice cartons and boxes (straws are garbage)
  • Cans (e.g. chips, nuts, frozen juice –
    place metal end in can and pinch closed; pull-off strips are garbage)

foam polystyrene containers and packages

 Foam polystyrene

  • Foam food and protective packaging
    (e.g. drinking cups, egg cartons, meat trays, takeout food containers, electronic packaging).

Note: black foam items cannot be recycled (put in garbage).

Printable Recycling Guide with images

Items that do not go into the Blue Bin

  • Medical waste: Needles are hazardous waste and must not be put in garbage. Take to a Drop-off Depot. Plastic catheter/colostomy bags and tubes are garbage
  • Plastic: caulking tubes, motor oil jugs, paint cans, packing peanuts, binders, and black plastic takeout containers, toys, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, black garbage bags, black plant trays, flower pots (other colours accepted)
  • Plastic packaging: black coloured plastic, household cling wrap, biodegradable containers/film (e.g. compostable plastic bags), laminated plastic film (e.g. chip bags, stand-up resealable pouch bags), pre-packaged items (e.g. meat, cheese), bubble wrap, plastic squeeze tubes for home and personal products (hair, body etc.), single-serve coffee and tea pods
  • Glass: drinking glasses, dishes, cups, crystal, ceramics, window glass, light bulbs, mirrors, pottery, pots, pans
  • Metal: propane/helium cylinders and tanks, tools, scrap metal, coat hangers, pots, pans, small appliances, electronics, binders, auto parts
  • Textiles: clothes, shoes, carpets, curtains, bedding
  • Aluminum: foil food wrap, potato chip bags, metallic gift wrap and bows
  • Other paper products: waxed cardboard, waxed paper, ribbons. Soiled tissues and napkins go in the Green Bin.
  • Wood: crates for fruit. Renovation waste is garbage and must be taken to a Drop-off Depot.
  • Cables, cords, hoses ropes
  • Household Hazardous WasteProper disposal of items such as propane/helium tanks, batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, pesticides, oil, etc. means taking these items to a Drop-off Depot. These types of items must never be put in recycling or garbage. The Toxic Taxi provides free pick-up of 10 to 50 litres/kilograms of household hazardous waste from Toronto residents. Book an appointment online or by calling 311.

Note: Some of these items can be recycled at Drop-off Depots or Community Environment Days.