Litter is a big problem in Toronto. It makes the city look bad, can have harmful effects on the environment and animals, and costs millions of dollars a year to clean up. Small items such as cigarette butts and gum, and large items such as paper towels and napkins, masks, and single-use drink cups are commonly littered items in Toronto. Help keep Toronto’s streets, sidewalks, beaches and parks clean by putting litter where it belongs, in public waste bins.
The City has seen an increase in the amount of litter since the start of the pandemic with more people enjoying Toronto’s public spaces. Enjoy Toronto’s public spaces, but please keep them clean and safe by using available garbage and recycling bins to dispose of your waste.
The City has increased the amount of waste bins along the waterfront and in high-traffic parks and is emptying those in high-traffic areas more frequently. Littering comes with a fine of up to $500.
The City of Toronto works diligently throughout the year to keep public spaces vibrant and beautiful, with dedicated efforts to refresh streets, parks and ravines. The City’s Litter Operations run 20 hours per day, seven days a week.
Ongoing efforts to keep Toronto clean include:
Chewing gum is the most prevalent small litter item found on Toronto streets. A lot of the small dark patches on our roads and sidewalks were once someone’s gum. Many people do not see gum as litter and toss it on our roads and sidewalks causing them to look dirty and uncared for.
Used chewing gum (and its wrapping) belongs in the garbage.
Cigarette butts make up a large part of Toronto’s litter, can take years to break down and contain toxic chemicals that can be released into our environment.
Toronto street litter bins have a special receptacle designated for cigarette butt disposal.
If you don’t have access to a street litter receptacle, make sure your cigarette is completely extinguished and cooled, and then dispose of it in the garbage.
Warning from Toronto Fire Services: Never put cigarette butts in garden planters because this can quickly lead to fires!
Masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment are being littered throughout Toronto’s beaches, parks and streets. These should be disposed of in the garbage bins available.
Paper towels and napkins are common large litter items found on Toronto streets. If in a park, and there is a Green Bin nearby, these can be disposed of in the Green Bin. Otherwise, they should be disposed of in the garbage.
More information can be found in the 2020 Litter Audit Report.
Items carelessly discarded on the ground can be harmful to the environment, as they may not easily biodegrade and can remain in our ecosystem for years. Some items can even get swept into sewers or rivers and end up in Lake Ontario.
It is common for animals, such as dogs, to eat foreign objects that they find on the ground. Small litter items can end up being eaten by pets and wild animals and have harmful effects on their health.
Keeping Toronto clean is no easy task. If Toronto residents and visitors kept litter items off our streets, the City could save millions of dollars a year.
There are approximately 11,300 garbage/recycling street bins across the city and 10,000 garbage and recycling bins in City parks. In addition, there are Green Bins in a number of parks across the city. Please do your part. Help keep Toronto clean and beautiful by using these bins.
The City is also undertaking a pilot project to test the use of a dedicated compartment for dog waste in street litter bins. The goal of this pilot is to determine if the collection of organic waste from street litter bins is feasible, and to find out if this type of initiative can successfully divert more dog waste from landfill.
When visiting Toronto beaches and parks for a picnic or gathering, reduce the amount of waste you create by opting for reusable items such as reusable bags, utensils and cups. Other options include bringing your food in reusable containers, using cloth napkins and bringing fruits and vegetables and food that does not have packaging.
Also consider carrying a small plastic bag to dispose of any waste you create.
It’s just as important to recycle right on the go! Incorrect placement of items such as coffee cups, dog waste, food waste and containers with leftover food in public recycling bins is ruining perfectly good recyclables, sending them to landfill.
Learn more about illegal dumping.