Find out what is and isn’t accepted in the City’s recycling program below. When in doubt about how to properly dispose of something, ask the Waste Wizard.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

In 2021, the Province of Ontario finalized the regulation to transition Ontario’s Blue Box Program to full Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Toronto’s Blue Bin recycling program transitioned to EPR as of July 1, 2023.

EPR makes producers fully accountable for the management of paper products, packaging and packaging-like products that they put into the Ontario marketplace and shifts the operational and financial responsibilities of recycling away from municipalities.

The shift to EPR is taking place in two phases:  the transition phase and the post-transition phase.

All Ontario municipalities are currently transitioning their Blue Box Programs to EPR which will continue to December 31, 2025.

The post-transition phase will begin January 1, 2026.

Toronto’s transition to EPR

Toronto was one of the first municipalities to transition to EPR on July 1, 2023.

The City has an agreement with Circular Materials Ontario (program system administrator) to continue to provide recycling services to the residents of Toronto throughout the transition phase (July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2025).

Acting as a recycling service provider during the transition phase ensures a seamless experience for Toronto residents and allows the City to retain jobs and recover recycling costs.

Producers are working to design what the standardized Blue Box Program will look like in 2026 after all municipal programs have transitioned.

Benefits of EPR

The benefits of EPR include:

  • standardization of what is accepted in the Blue Box across the province as of 2026 when producers have fully taken over recycling.
  • potential reduction and/or innovation in packaging
  • cost savings for the City
  • potential for increased waste diversion from landfill once recovery targets come into effect in 2026 and onwards.

Adding Hot and Cold Beverage Cups to the Blue Bin (Recycling) Program

Starting on July 3, 2024, Toronto residents, schools and long-term care facilities can place single-use hot (e.g. coffee and tea) and cold (e.g. fountain drinks) paper-based beverage cups in the Blue Bin (recycling).

Toronto has been chosen to be the first to implement the change ahead of adding these items to all municipal recycling programs in Ontario in 2026. The inclusion of new items is based on the producers’ collective investments into material processing facilities and working towards standardizing the Blue Box Program across Ontario.

To reduce confusion and ensure harmonized materials City-wide, hot and cold paper beverage cups are to be placed in Blue Bins (recycling) at City-serviced commercial locations, facilities and buildings, charities, institutions and religious organizations, parks and in the recycling compartment of street litter bins.

Visit Circular Materials to learn more about the beverage cup pilot in Toronto, including what types of cups are included and how to properly prepare these items for recycling.

Five Items That Always Go in Recycling



  • Bottles, jars (lids on)
    glass jars with lids

Rigid Plastics

  • Food jars, tubs (lids on)
  • Clear food containers/clamshells (e.g. from berries, vegetables, mixed greens)
  • Disposable plastic cups
  • Beverage bottles (lids on)
  • Salad dressing bottles
  • Detergent, soap, shampoo bottles (lids/sprayers/pumps on)
  • Clear CD/DVD cases (empty; black cases are garbage)

Note: all black and/or compostable plastic goes in the garbage.

Rigid plastic containers including containers for laundry detergent, juice, and dish soap

Soft, Stretchy Plastics

  • Grocery/retail shopping bags
  • Produce/bulk food bags
  • Bread bags (non-foil)
  • Milk bags (outer bag, rinsed inner pouches)
  • Sandwich bags (including resealable)
  • Frozen fruit/vegetable bags (no stand-up pouches)
  • Over-wrap (e.g. from toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, water/soft drink cases)
  • Newspaper/flyer/magazine bags (separate paper from bag, recycle separately)
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Diaper/feminine hygiene outer bags
  • Garden soil/manure/compost/road salt bags

Note: remove product before recycling.

a bag of frozen peas and stretchy plastic shopping bags


  • Aluminum/steel food & beverage cans
  • Aluminum trays, burner liners, pie plates, roasting pans
  • Cookie tins
  • Aerosol cans (empty; lids on)
  • Paint cans (empty; remove lids and recycle separately)


various metal containers


  • Bags (without wax or plastic lining/coating)
  • Advertising mail, fine paper, envelopes
  • 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

*Place pieces smaller than a business card in envelope or add to bag of shredded paper.


paper items including newspaper, books, and shredded paper

Paper Containers

  • Cartons and boxes (e.g. from juice, milk, soup; straws are garbage)
  • Spiral wound cans (e.g. from chips, nuts, frozen juice – place metal end in can and pinch closed; pull-off strips are garbage)

various milk and juice cartons


  • Boxboard (e.g. from cereal, tissue, detergent, shoe; remove liners, flatten, no freezer boxes)
  • Corrugated cardboard (unwaxed, flattened; pizza boxes must be empty; remove over-wrap from water/soft drink cases, recycle separately)
  • Rolls (e.g. from toilet paper, paper towel, wrapping paper)

 Foam Polystyrene

  • Foam food and protective packaging (e.g. plates, cups, egg cartons, takeout containers, meat/fish trays; plastic wrap & absorbent pad are garbage)
  • Protective packaging (e.g. from shipping, electronics; foam packaging peanuts are garbage)

Note: Food/drink packaging must be empty and rinsed (otherwise, place in garbage). Black foam items and pieces smaller than 10 cm (4″) x 10 cm (4″) go in the garbage).


foam polystyrene containers and packages

Items that do not go into the Blue Bin

Medical, Home Healthcare & Personal Protective Equipment Waste

  • Needles and syringes are Household Hazardous Waste.
  • Place the following inside two plastic bags and then in the garbage:
    • Disposable masks, gloves, gowns, pads
    • Soiled dressing, sponges, gauze
    • Catheters & colostomy bags
    • IV bags & tubing
    • Dialysis waste

Household Hazardous Waste

  • Household hazardous waste items such as propane/helium tanks, batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, pesticides, paint, etc. must never be put in recycling or garbage.
  • Take to a Drop-Off Depot or for amounts between 10 to 50 litres/kilograms, book a free Toxic Taxi pickup online or by calling 311.

Plastic Packaging

  • Any items that are black, including takeout containers, bags, plant trays and flower pots
  • Any items that are labelled or marketed as compostable or biodegradable, including bags, containers, cutlery
  • Stand-up resealable pouch bags
  • Liner bags (e.g. from cereal, cookies, crackers)
  • Wrapping around pre-packaged foods like meat and cheese
  • Food wrap (i.e. Cling wrap)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Pet food bags
  • Squeeze tubes for home and personal products (e.g. from toothpaste, lotion)
  • Paint cans

Other Plastic

  • Straws
  • Clothes hangers
  • Binders
  • Toys
  • Cassettes, CDs, DVDs


  • Drinking glasses, dishes, cups, crystal
  • Ceramics, pottery
  • Window glass
  • Light bulbs
  • Mirrors
  • Pots, pans


  • Tools, scrap metal, auto parts
  • Clothes hangers
  • Pots, pans
  • Small appliances (e.g. kettles, toasters, hair dryer)
  • Electronics


  • Foil food wrap, potato chip bags
  • Blister packs (e.g. from gum, pills)
  • Metallic gift wrap and bows


  • Clothes, shoes
  • Carpets, curtains
  • Bedding

Paper Products

  • Tissues, napkins, paper towels
  • Frozen food boxes (they have a lining or coating)
  • Waxed cardboard
  • Any paper with wax or plastic lining or coating

Other Items

  • Cables, hoses, ropes
  • Wood (e.g. fruit crates, chopsticks)
  • Renovation waste (must be taken to a Drop-Off Depot)
  • Put items in loose and not bagged. Use a clear plastic bag only if necessary.
  • Prepare containers in 3 easy steps:
    1. empty food, liquids or other contents
    2. rinse to remove any residue
    3. place lid/cap on (including sprayers and pumps)
  • Place all black and/or compostable plastic (e.g. food containers, bags, cutlery) in the garbage.
  • Flexible multi-layered packaging (e.g. stand-up pouches) and plastic-lined paper
    (e.g. instant oatmeal packs) go in the garbage. To check if paper is lined with plastic, rip it slowly. If you see any plastic lining, the item goes in the garbage.
  • Separate plastic bags/over-wrap from newspapers, flyers, magazines, water/soft drink cases. Recycle separately.
  • Put shredded paper in a clear plastic bag.
  • Put pieces of paper the size of a business card or smaller in an envelope or add to clear bag of shredded paper.
  • Put foam pieces smaller than 10 cm (4″) x 10 cm (4″) in the garbage.
  • 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.

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.

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 gets 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.

Black plastic

Black plastic of any kind, such as take-out containers and black garbage bags, is not 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.

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.


Coffee pods

The City does not accept coffee pods in its Blue Bin recycling program, as coffee grounds are often left within them, which can ruin other items in the bin, such as paper and cardboard, making them no longer recyclable. All coffee pods, including those that are labelled or marketed as recyclable, must be disposed of in the garbage or returned to retailers/manufacturers who have take-back programs.

The City 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.

Compostable and biodegradable items

The City does not accept the following items marketed or labelled as compostable or biodegradable in its Blue Bin recycling program:

  • containers/packaging
  • coffee pods
  • coffee cups
  • bags
  • cutlery

These items, which may be made of or lined with a bio-based plastic, must be disposed of in the garbage. Alternatively, products can be returned to retailers/manufacturers who have take-back programs.

Why the City doesn’t accept compostable and biodegradable items in the Blue Bin

Compostable and biodegradable plastics are not recyclable, as they are made of materials that are meant to break down versus materials that can be made into something new. Once recyclables are collected and sorted, they are baled and sold to partially offset the cost of collecting and separating recycling. At the recycling facility, compostable and biodegradable plastics get mixed with conventional plastics. When this happens, it lowers the quality of the plastic bales making them less valuable and more difficult to sell.

While the City works to divert as much waste as possible from landfill, the material in public recycling bins is often heavily contaminated with non-recyclable items, such as containers with food and liquid in them, black plastic and pet waste. When this happens, much of the recycling is ruined, sending it to landfill.

In spring 2021, the City of Toronto installed new lids on 300 recycling bins in parks across the city. The new bin lids have a hole designed to exclusively capture empty beverage cans and bottles. Stickers adhered to the bins and signage beside the bins indicate what items are accepted and not accepted in the recycling bins.

Data collected from the beverage bin pilot determined that dedicated bins for bottles and cans can contribute to a long-term strategy to reduce contamination and increase the amount of recycling collected from park bins. The volume of recyclable materials found in beverage bins was highest at sports fields.

In spring 2023, the City installed beverage bins at premium sports fields across Toronto. The goal of installing bins at sports fields is to increase the amount of material the City can recycle from areas that generate the most beverage cans and bottles.


Beverage Bin with signage that reads Empty Cans and Empty Bottles beside a Garbage Bin