Toronto has one of the most comprehensive integrated waste management systems in North America and manages more than 700,000 tonnes of residential waste each year. In 2023, a total of 381,707 tonnes of residential waste was diverted from landfill through the following programs:

  • Green Bin organics
  • Blue Bin recycling*
  • Yard waste and Christmas trees
  • Large appliance/scrap metal
  • Community Environment Day events
  • Household hazardous waste
  • Electronic waste
  • Activities done by households such as backyard composting and grasscycling.

*Some estimates were used to calculate Blue Bin recycling tonnes diverted in 2023. As the City is transitioning to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) this data is tracked by Circular Materials and is no longer available to the City.

2023 Residential Diversion Rates

  • The 2023 combined residential diversion rate for single-family homes and multi-residential buildings (with nine or more units) was 53.6 per cent (compared to 52.5 per cent in 2022)
  • The 2023 diversion rate for single-family homes was 63.9 per cent
  • The 2023 diversion rate for multi-residential buildings was 27.9 per cent.
Program Garbage Collected (tonnes) Waste Diverted (tonnes) Diversion Rate
Single-Family Residential 182,930 324,443 63.9%
Multi-Unit Residential 147,663 57,264 27.9%
Total Residential 330,593 381,707 53.6%

Material Breakdown for 2023 Residential Waste Diversion Rates

The City follows the methodology for diversion reporting as set out by the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA) Datacall. The Datacall is guided by the Generally Accepted Principles (GAP) for municipal waste measurement, which was established in 1999 to develop a standardized reporting framework that could be used by municipalities across Canada to report waste generation, diversion and disposal. The City’s overall diversion numbers include tonnes collected by the City as well as additional tonnes diverted through other means and calculated based on the Generally Accepted Principles (GAP) for municipal waste measurement.


Program City Collected & Processed Items (tonnes) City Items +  Provincial Allowances for Other Diversion (tonnes)
Blue Bin Recycling 92,009 312,979
Yard Waste/Christmas trees  


Green Bin Organics 130,927
Environment Days/Drop-Off Depots 528
Mattresses 2,629
Electronics 684
Large Appliances/Scrap Metal 1,505
Household Hazardous Waste 1,651
Backyard Composting* 19,255
Grasscycling** 13,911
Deposit Return and Stewardship Program*** 15,539
Tires**** 186 20,023
Diversion in Tonnes 313,165 381,707
Garbage 330,593 330,593
Diversion and Garbage 643,759 712,300
Percentage Diversion 48.6% 53.6%

*Calculated using Generally Accepted Principles (GAP) default of 100 kg/backyard composting/year.
** Calculated using Generally Accepted Principles (GAP) as a percentage of the leaf and yard waste tonnes collected based on relevant waste management policies the City has in place (e.g. user-pay system).
***Calculated using Generally Accepted Principles (GAP) default of 5.51 kg/per capita by total population converted to tonnes for metal and glass beer containers sold through the beer store and all types of wine and spirit containers sold through the LCBO.
****Calculated using Generally Accepted Principles (GAP) default of 7.1 kg/per capita by total population converted to tonnes for passenger and light truck tires diverted through the Used Tires Program.

Factors Impacting Diversion Rates

One of the factors impacting the diversion rate over the last several years is the changing nature of packaging. As the diversion rate is a weight-based metric, it has been impacted by the shift from heavier packaging materials, such as glass and metal, to lighter ones such as plastic as well as a reduction in the amount of packaging used. Laundry detergent, for example, is now sold in a concentrated form and packaged in smaller plastic jugs.

Other factors impacting the diversion rate include:

  • changes in consumer behaviour
  • increase in online shopping (which generates additional cardboard packaging)
  • decrease in print media (e.g. newspapers and magazines)
  • increase in prepared foods, food delivery and meal preparation kits.

Putting Reduce and Reuse First

In addition to educating residents about proper participation in its waste diversion programs, the City also strongly promotes the first two R’s of the waste hierarchy – reduce and reuse. To support and promote a culture of reduction and reuse, the City initiated Community Reduce & Reuse Programs across Toronto. These Programs are delivered in neighbourhood hubs and educate residents on ways to reduce and reuse through activities such as bike repair, canning and preserving to reduce food waste, clothing repair, community composting, and the sharing and repairing of household items.  As of the end of 2023, more than 18.11 tonnes of clothing and other textiles had been diverted, 20.72 tonnes of surplus food redistributed, and 23,849 bikes repaired/refurbished through the Programs.

The City has also been working on a strategy to reduce the use of single-use and takeaway items, which are products designed to be used once and then disposed of in the garbage, Blue Bin (recycling) or Green Bin (organics). The City of Toronto adopted a Single-Use & Takeaway Items Bylaw, which came into effect on March 1, 2024, and places requirements on retail business establishments to reduce the use of single-use and takeaway items in order to prevent them from ending up in landfill or as litter. The City of Toronto continues to develop its Single-Use & Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy.

Potential Impact of Extended Producer Responsibility

In June 2021, the Province of Ontario finalized the regulation to transition Ontario’s Blue Box Program to full Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).  EPR will make producers of packaging and paper products fully financially and operationally responsible for the end-of-life management of materials that they introduce into the marketplace. The benefits of EPR include potential reduction and/or innovation in packaging and potential for increased waste diversion from landfill once recovery targets come into effect in 2026 and onwards.

Throughout the transition phase, from July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2025, all Ontario municipalities will transition their Blue Box Programs to EPR. The City of Toronto will be one of the first municipalities to transition to EPR in year one on July 1, 2023.

Learn about Toronto’s transition to EPR.

In October 2022, the City of Toronto contracted an environmental consultancy firm to conduct litter audits at 300 pre-selected locations within the public realm across the city.

The purpose of the audits was to assess the composition and amount of litter present on Toronto streets. The methodology used in the 2022 audit was consistent with those of previous years.

2022 Audit Results

Litter is classified into two size categories. Large litter is equal to or larger than four square inches (25.8 cm²) and includes items such as paper towels/napkins, beverage cup lids and pieces and plastic packaging. Small litter items are smaller than four square inches (25.8 cm²) and include items such as cigarette butts/debris, receipts and gum.

Key findings from the large litter audits:
• The average amount of large litter has decreased by 48.2% since the first audit in 2002.
• The total number of large litter items increased by 28.6% from 3,024 items in 2020 to 3,887 items in 2022.
• The most commonly found item in the large litter audit was non-branded towels/napkins, representing 10.5% of all large items audited.

Key findings from the small litter audits:
• The average amount of small litter has decreased from an average of 13 items per site in 2020 to 10 items per site in 2022.
• The total number of small litter items decreased by nearly 18.0% from 3,794 items in 2020 to 3,110 items in 2022.
• The most commonly found small litter item was cigarette butts/debris, accounting for 29.6% of all small litter audited, followed by paper at 18.4%.

More information is available in the 2022 Toronto Litter Audit Report.


In 2014, the City of Toronto engaged an independent consultant (Ernst & Young LLP) to review Solid Waste Management Services current collection and operational practices, to identify potential areas for improvement and provide recommendations in a final report for additional safeguards to public safety.

Ernst & Young reviewed four business practice areas to enhance public safety:

  • Waste collection operations provided by City staff and contracted staff
  • Routing of collection vehicles and equipment
  • Operator training
  • Vehicles and equipment design

Final Report

In November 2018, Solid Waste Management Services, in partnership with Civic Hall Toronto, hosted a human-centred Design Sprint to get insights into the problem of contamination in recycling, which is costing the City millions of dollars annually.

The main objectives of the event were to:

  • Better understand the challenges around recycling, from a resident perspective
  • Gather ideas around how to address these challenges
  • Generate insights on how design can improve the Blue Bin recycling program to reduce contamination.

The Blue Bin Design Sprint-Final Report provides analysis based on the comments of participants who came to the Design Sprint event and how they navigate and experience the Toronto Blue Bin recycling system on a day-to-day basis.