Blue Bin Recycling Program
Recycling Resources and Information
What Goes in Recycling?
Beverage and food containers
Rinse clean and recycle
- Clamshell containers (hinged, clear plastic containers used for food items such as berries and take-out)
- Clear fruit and vegetable containers
- Clear take-out food containers
- Clear molded bakery item trays, egg cartons
- Disposable plastic plates and glasses
- Cold beverage cups/lids
- Plastic bottles and jugs (lids on)
- Milk/juice cartons and boxes (put plastic tops and straws in garbage)
- Glass bottles and jars (put lids in garbage)
- Aluminum cans
- Plastic food jars, tubs and lids (e.g. margarine, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream containers)
- Metal cans (place metal lid inside can and pinch closed - if lid is plastic, recycle loose)
- Cardboard cans (e.g. frozen juice, refrigerated dough, chips, nuts, powdered drink mix — put plastic pull-off strips in garbage; place metal ends inside cardboard can and pinch closed)
- Aluminum trays, burner liners, pie plates and roasting pans
Home and personal product containers
Rinse clean and recycle
- Plastic bottles (lids and sprayers screwed on tight)
- Plastic kitty litter tubs with plastic handles
- Plastic laundry detergent tubs and lids
- Aerosol cans (empty; put caps in garbage)
- Metal paint cans & lids (empty, separate lids from cans)
- Clear compact disk cases (empty)
Foam polystyrene and plastic retail shopping bags
Rinse clean and recycle
- Foam food and protective packaging (e.g. drinking cups, egg cartons, meat trays, takeout food containers, electronics packaging)
- Plastic grocery and retail shopping bags without drawstrings, metal detailing or hard plastic handles (remove receipts: place all plastic bags in one retail or grocery plastic bag and and tie handles together)
Not contaminated with food or chemicals
- Bags, rolls, junk mail, writing/computer paper, envelopes, window envelopes
- Shredded paper (put in clear plastic bag and tie closed)
- Gift wrap, cards (no ribbons, bows, foil wrap)
- Newspapers, flyers, telephone directories, magazines, catalogues, soft/ hardcover books (remove plastic covers, liners, over-wrap and put in garbage)
- Boxboard boxes (e.g. cereal, tissue, detergent, egg cartons – flatten; remove liners, plastic windows and put in garbage)
- Corrugated cardboard (clean, unwaxed, flattened; pizza boxes must be empty; remove plastic over-wrap from pop/water cases and put in garbage)
"Top Bin Sins"
- Propane/helium cylinders and tanks
- Medical waste (needles, plastic catheter bags/tubes)
- Squeeze tubes for home and personal products (hair, body, etc.)
- Tools, scrap metal, auto parts
- Clothes, shoes, carpets, curtains, bedding
- Small appliances, electronics
- Cassettes, CDs, DVDs
- Batteries, car batteries
- Plastic paint pails (all sizes, with or without metal handles)
- Plastic pails (with metal handles)
- Black plastic plant pots and trays (other colours can be recycled)
- Binders (e.g. three ring), clipboards
Other items that don’t go in the Blue Bin
- Hazardous waste: propane/helium tanks & cylinders, batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs (Must not be put in recycling or garbage; take to Drop-off Depot.)
- Medical waste: needles are hazardous waste (Must not be put in garbage; take to Drop-off Depot.). Plastic catheter/colostomy bags and tubes are garbage.
- Dryer sheets, baby wipes, make-up pads, cotton tipped swabs, dental floss
- Hair, pet fur, feathers, wax, wood pieces, cigarette butts, wine corks, vacuum bags/ contents, fireplace and BBQ ashes
- Plastic: caulking tubes, food storage containers, motor oil jugs, black plant trays, black flower pots, non-disposable plates and drinking glasses, packing peanuts, binders
- Plastic (bags/wrap): plastic over-wrap (on pop cartons, water bottles, toilet paper), bags holding flyers, dry cleaning, milk (outer and inner), produce, bread, sandwich and plastic food wrap
- Glass: drinking glasses, dishes, cups, crystal, window glass, light bulbs, mirrors, pottery, pots, pans
- Metal: scrap metal, coat hangers, pots, pans, small appliances, binders
- Aluminum: foil food wrap, potato chip bags, metallic gift wrap
- Other paper products: waxed cardboard, waxed paper. Note: Soiled tissues and napkins go in the Green Bin.
- Wood: pieces, flooring, crates for fruit
Household Hazardous Waste
Proper disposal of items like propane tanks, batteries, pesticides, oil, etc. means taking these items to a Drop-off Depot. These types of items must never be put in recycling or garbage. View site.
Note: The Toxic Taxi provides free pick-up of 10 to 50 litres/kilograms of HHW materials from Toronto residents. To book an appointment: e-mail email@example.com or call 311.
The ins and outs
Despite the increased number of recyclable items, there are still some plastic items Toronto can't currently recycle. The wrong item can contaminate the recycling stream, damage equipment and cause workplace injuries. If you don't recycle properly, we can't either.
Top Plastic Bin Sins
These items do not go in recycling:
- Takeout containers with black bottom or tops (such as for roast chicken)
- Plastic blister packs
- Cassettes, CDs and DVDs
- Plastic pails, plastic paint pails (with metal handles)
- Plastic over-wrap on pop/water cartons, toilet paper, paper towels
Use the Waste Wizard an online search tool to help you learn what to do with your waste materials.
The mobius loop
Just because an item has a mobius loop mark on it, it doesn't mean it's recyclable everywhere. There has to be a market to take the item, so that's why referring to mobius loops as an indicator of recyclability isn't a good idea.
The number system is misleading - not all are recyclable
Some reasons why the number system doesn't work in identifying recyclable plastics:
- Plastic products with the same numbers may not be compatible: PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), shown with #1 symbol, is used in a wide variety of packaging applications from bottles to egg cartons to food trays. Although the base material is PET, the manufacturers can alter the composition depending on the designed end-use. The result is that the various products can no longer be mixed for recycling purposes (e.g. there can be variations in viscosity levels (molecular), they may contain chlorine and/or be coated with silicone or glycol, which are not compatible with the bottle grade PET). To date, we have not been able to find secure markets for the non-bottle grades of PET.
- A #2 HDPE (High Density Polyethelene) food tub is injection moulded and a #2 HDPE bottle is blow moulded. They both have the same number but one cannot work with the other. We accept both in our program but have two separate markets for these material types.
What plastics the City accepts in recycling:
- Items must be solely made out of plastic (no metal, wood, etc. parts or content)
- All plastic jugs and bottles; tubs and their lids
- Plastic grocery and retail bags (through processing, items will be sorted according to established markets and unwanted items will be removed)
Set out tips for plastic items:
- No need to flatten jugs, bottles, or tubs
- Tighten lids on jugs and bottles
Blue Bin (recycling) sizes
Small = 1 blue box
Bin design requires a raised floor to maintain the height required for automated collection.
- Height: 82.8cm 32.6"
- Width: 50.3cm 19.8"
- Depth: 59.2cm 23.3"
Medium = 2 blue boxes
- Height: 99.4cm 39.1"
- Width: 51.3cm 20.2"
- Depth: 58.4cm 23"
Large = 4 blue boxes
- Height: 103.1cm 40.6"
- Width: 67.8cm 26.7"
- Depth: 71.4cm 28.1"
Extra-large = 6 blue boxes
- Height: 114.6cm 45.1"
- Width: 72.9cm 28.7"
- Depth: 85.7cm 33.7"
Recycling (Blue Bin) FAQ
Recycling (Blue Bin) Frequently Asked Questions
- What if I can’t fit all my recycling into my bin?
- Will the City pick up any extra recycling that won't fit in my Blue Bin if I set it out at the curb?
- What bin size choices do I have?
- What should I do with my shredded paper?
- What can I do with corrugated cardboard from yhe purchase of a new appliance/moving?
The City’s automated Blue Bin collection requires all recycling to fit into your bin.
- Place overflow (extra) recycling beside your bin but it must be cut to a size that crews can fit back into your emptied Blue Bin – pieces may be bundled or put in clear bags. Using automation, the operator will first empty your full bin and then place overflow in your bin and repeat automated collection (items cannot be manually put into trucks).
- Avoid overloading. If items are jammed in they might not fall out when bin is tipped.
- Make sure the lid will close to prevent blowing litter.
- If your bin is damaged, contact us to have it repaired/replaced.
If you “regularly” have overflow recycling, please upsize your Blue Bin or order an extra Blue Bin free of charge.
To place a service request for free exchange, repair or an extra Blue Bin visit toronto.ca/311 or call 311. For more information, check your collection calendar or visit toronto.ca/recycling.
While the City asks that you put your recyclables inside the Blue Bin with the lid closed, we recognize there may be some times that you have additional recycling. On certain occasions (e.g. seasonal holiday periods), when you may have more recycling, the City will pick up additional recycling provided it is put in a clear, plastic bag and placed beside your Blue Bin on the appropriate collection day. Should collection crews notice a home continually placing extra recycling out, they will pick up the recycling, but will also sticker the Blue Bin notifying the resident to either upsize their bin or get another one to better accommodate their volume of recyclables and to ensure future collection of all recyclables. Households that continue to regularly put out bagged excess recycling each collection cycle, after receiving the sticker notice, may find their extra recyclables will not be collected. They are asked to either visit toronto.ca/311 or call 311 to request either an additional Blue Bin or a larger size bin at no cost.
There are four size choices for Blue Bins: Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large.
- Small Blue Bin = 1 blue box
- Medium Blue Bin = 2 blue boxes
- Large Blue Bin = 4 blue boxes
- Extra-Large Blue Bin = 6 blue boxes
Please place shredded paper in a clear plastic bag, tie closed and put it in your Blue Bin. In order for shredded paper to be recycled properly, it must be contained in a clear plastic bag. Loose shredded paper is too small to travel through the necessary recycling separation machinery at the recycling facility. Staff will remove the clear bag at the appropriate stage of the separation process.
Cardboard should be flattened/broken down and placed in your Blue Bin with the lid closed. In situations where the cardboard will not fit into the Blue Bin ( i.e. as a result of moving or the purchasing of a new appliance), please flatten and bundle the cardboard with string or twine to a maximum dimension of 75x75x30 cm (2x2x1 ft.) otherwise the bundles will not fit into the opening of the truck. You may also take it to a Drop-off Depot.