Garbage & Recycling

Corporate - Truck.JPG


The Solid Waste Management Services Division is responsible for collecting, transporting, processing, composting and disposing of municipal and some private sector waste. This includes garbage, Blue Bin recyclables, Green Bin organics, yard waste, oversized and metal items, as well as household hazardous waste and electronic waste.

Mission Statement

To be a leader in providing innovative waste management services to residents, businesses and visitors within the City of Toronto in a safe, efficient, effective and courteous manner, creating environmental sustainability, promoting diversion and maintaining a clean city.

About Us

  • 1 active landfilll (Green Lane Landfill)
  • 160 closed landfills
  • 7 Transfer Stations
  • 1 Organics Processing Facility
  • 1 Reuse Centre
  • 4 Collection Yards & 1 Litter Collection Yard
  • 6 Household Hazardous Waste Depots
  • Over 600 vehicles & pieces of equipment
  • Service 900,000 homes & businesses
    • 461,000 single family residential (includes 11,000 residential units above commercial)
    • 409,000 multi-residential units
    • 13,000 small commercial
  • Approximately 9,335 street litter/recycling bins
  • 10,000 parks' bins
  • 1,000 Special Events per year
  • Schools, City Divisions; Agencies and Corporations
  • Private Industrial, Commercial and Institutional waste accepted at Drop-off Depots and landfill

Projected Green Lane Landfill lifespan:

  • Approximately 2040 with Long Term Waste Management Strategy recommendations
  • In 2016, Toronto sent 491,747 tonnes of municipal waste to the Green Lane Landfill

Residential Waste Diversion Statistics (2016):

  • Managed 897,143 tonnes material
  • 209,000 tonnes of Blue Bin recyclables
  • 144,000 tonnes of Green Bin organics
  • 84,000 tonnes of Yard Waste

Combined overall residential waste diversion rate of 52% in 2016:

  • 65% single residential homes
  • 28% multi-residential homes

Division Sections

ExpandCollections & Litter Operations

This section provides collection of garbage, Blue Bin recycling, Green Bin organics, yard waste, over-sized and metal goods for single family homes, multi-residential properties, non-residential customers (e.g. charities), the City's Divisions, Agencies and Corporations, institutions and small commercial establishments.

It also provides litter cleaning operations on boulevards and sidewalks across the City, and services litter receptacles throughout the City's streets and parks. This section also provides services to Special Events in the City, including provision of Blue Bin and Green Bin containers and collection of these materials, program literature and assistance in completing a waste reduction plan.

A 'Customer Service and Waste Diversion Implementation' unit has also been established in this section to support the Division in its goal of improving customer service and implementing new diversion initiatives. Community Environment Day Events are also overseen by this section.

ExpandInfrastructure Development & Asset Management

The Infrastructure Development & Asset Management (ID&AM) Section is responsible for the division's physical assets throughout their complete lifecycle, from initial design and construction; to commissioning and start-up; meeting major maintenance and rehabilitation requirements; to the eventual retirement and disposal of the asset. ID&AM oversees roughly $600M in assets consisting of thirteen (13) maintenance and operating yards; seven (7) transfer stations & household hazardous waste depots; one (1) Materials Recovery Facility (MRF); two (2) organics processing facilities; the Green Lane Landfill; over 750 fleet assets; and over 1.5 million bins and carts. The ID&AM Section consists of four (4) units, which are outlined below:

Asset Management supports the Division through the development and implementation of asset management & capital plans for the rehabilitation and replacement of assets in order to maintain service levels, minimize risks and optimize decision-making processes. Activities also include the creation of up-to-date asset inventories, asset valuations, condition assessments, risk evaluation/modelling and the development and execution of asset lifecycle delivery strategies.

Capital Delivery is responsible for the implementation of capital projects including the engineering, design, permitting, tendering, construction and commissioning of major repairs, replacements, upgrades and expansions for existing facilities, as well as the development of any new infrastructure for the Division. Working closely with internal and external stakeholders, Capital Delivery retains, coordinates and manages the services of external consultants and contractors, and provides advice on new and innovative initiatives and technologies that offer potential benefits to the Division.

Closed Landfill Operations maintains all of the City's closed landfills requiring perpetual care. This includes the maintenance of engineered systems and the monitoring and reporting on various parameters including surface/groundwater analysis and landfill gas collection and management. In addition, they support the Division by assisting in the development of landfill gas utilization strategies as well as new and innovative approaches for future uses of closed landfill sites.

Facilities & Equipment Maintenance is responsible for maintaining all of the Division's assets ensuring an overall state of good repair thereby leading to safe and effective operations. This includes the maintenance of engineered systems, buildings and process facilities, as well as maintenance related to closed landfill sites that require monitoring and reporting on surface/groundwater and landfill gas. 

ExpandPolicy, Planning and Support

This section is responsible for monitoring trends in the solid waste industry and providing policy and planning advice on new programs, program enhancements and new technologies to the operating units and Council. It provides technical review and comments on internal and external regulations, legislation, statutes and policies.

The section researches, designs and drafts harmonized programs, policies, eligibility criteria and bylaws to support operations as well as designing, and executing Request for Proposals and Tenders for materials and services. In addition to coordinating the development and submission of the operating and capital budgets, this section monitors and reports on budget variances, provides analytical support on financial issues and executes administrative support for the Division's contracts and agreements.

Finally, it is responsible for the effective planning, organizing, management and control of residential programs and services related to the billing, revenues and accounting of the Solid Waste Management Services rates.

ExpandProcessing & Resource Management

This section is responsible for the management and processing of all recycling, organics, and garbage from the City's collection programs. The material is transferred to various facilities for processing or disposal at the Green Lane Landfill. The City's network consists of 7 Transfer Stations as well as a Reuse Center for durable goods. These facilities are located strategically across the City to allow efficient management of materials. In addition, this section is also responsible for the operation of the Green Lane Landfill.

Transfer stations

A network of seven facilities strategically located to allow efficient management of materials.

Stations are responsible for the tractor trailer haulage of all materials to the various processing facilities located in and around the Greater Toronto Area as well as residual materials (garbage) requiring disposal.


The City acquired the Green Lane Landfill effective April 2, 2007, securing the City’s long term disposal requirements. The City began sending all its residential garbage to this site in January 2011.

Disposal Technology

Energy from waste, including incineration technologies are not considered waste diversion as part of the Ministry of the Environment's policies. In order for the City of Toronto to reach its diversion objective it must consider non-disposal technologies.



Requirements for garbage and recycling collection from new developments and redevelopments

In order to qualify for City of Toronto garbage, recycling and organics collection services, new developments or redevelopments (buildings), including existing developments, must adhere to the City of Toronto Requirements for developments and redevelopments for garbage and recycling collection in the City of Toronto.


Expand2009-2016 summary of waste diversion rates (tonnes)

Residential Waste20162015201420132012201120102009
Blue Bin (recycling) Program 117,240
127,952 141,206 143,935 148,336 146,538 147,236 139,757
Yard Waste/Christmas trees
79,579 91,164 96,068 99,822 92,474 84,297 82,470 82,084
Backyard composting 19,255 19,249 19,179 19,120 19,045 18,970 18,899 18,826
Green Bin (organics) 112,676 105,756 106,040 111,848 105,491 100,663 92,715 84,674
Environment Days/Depots/Reuse Centres
1,459 816 1,681 3,610 2,119 2,713 1,992 1,455
Electronics 993 1,065 937 849 979 1,719 1,834 1,095
Large Appliances/Scrap Metal 4,894 4,718 3,826 3,290 2,860 3,641 4,238 4,983
Grasscycling* 13,131 18,233 19,214 19,964 18,095 17,116 16,054 15,977
Household Hazardous Waste 1,950 2,336 1,844 1,622 1,531 1,544 1,563 1,175
Deposit Return & Stewardship Program 15,051 14,902 14,779 14,655 14,532 14,409 13,889 13,865
Tires 19,394 19,202 19,043 20,507 18,726 - - -
Diversion in Tonnes 385,622 405,392 423,817 439,222 424,188 391,610 380,890 363,891
Waste 355,193 369,868 380,522 383,521 391,262 408,202 432,539 470,379
Diversion & Waste 740,815 775,260 804,369 823,743 815,450 799,812 813,429 834,270
Percentage Diversion 52% 52% 53% 53% 52% 49% 47% 44%


  • * Grasscycling – estimated amounts that are left on lawns since clippings are not collected.
  • Green Bin (source separated organics) rolled out to single family households between 2002 and 2005.
  • 2007 - A certain amount of yard waste remained on the ground due to early snowfall and therefore was not collected in 2007.
  • 2007 - The impact of the LCBO deposit return can be seen on blue box program tonnage.
  • July 2008 - All multi-residential buildings collected by the City moved to a volume-based rate levy for waste.
  • November 2008 - All single family households moved to a volume-based rate levy for waste.
  • 2009 - Recycling and SSO tonnage was down due to six weeks of labour disruption which impacted in-house collection.
    The six weeks of labour disruption represents 11.5% of the year.
  • Blue Bin recyclables and Green Bin organics were down approximately 11%
  • Blue Bin residue also increased from 17% in 2008 to 20% in 2009.
  • Fall 2009 – Polystyrene and plastic film added
  • Fall 2012 – Mixed rigid plastics added
  • June 2015 - More types of soft plastic film added

Expand2016 Residential Diversion Rates

In 2016, a total of 385,622 tonnes of residential waste was diverted from landfill through such programs as the Blue Bin recycling, Green Bin organics, yard waste and Christmas trees, backyard composting, Community Environment Days, household hazardous waste, grass cycling, large appliance/scrap metal and electronic waste pick-up.

The combined residential diversion rate of 52% represents the diverted tonnes achieved by both single family homes and multi- residential buildings (categorized as having 9 or more units). Residents living in single family homes had a diversion rate of 65%. Multi- residential building residents improved their diversion, achieving a rate of 28% (compared to 27% in 2015). 

Since the implementation of the Green Bin Organics Program to City-serviced multi-residential buildings, organic tonnes have slowly increased and is partially responsible for the increase in multi-residential diversion. The roll out of the new automated Green Bins for single family customers is complete for approximately half of the city and will be completed city-wide by the end of the year. The provision of additional capacity may also have had a positive impact on capturing more Green Bin organic materials.

Moving towards Zero Waste future and a Circular Economy

Starting in 2013, the City embarked on a multi-year project to develop the Long Term Waste Management Strategy (Waste Strategy) that would guide the City's waste management system for the next 30 to 50 years. Through extensive consultation and engagement activities, thousands of participants from across the City provided feedback to form a Waste Strategy that received City Council approval in July 2016. The Waste Strategy includes recommendations that encourages the prevention of waste, maximizing its value before disposal. It also reaffirms the City's commitment to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and includes a 70% diversion target by 2026 and introduces an aspirational goal to work towards a zero waste future and a circular economy.

The Waste Strategy also recommends new metrics that better reflect waste system successes, as the City continues to see a general decline in garbage and recycling tonnes, which impacts the overall calculation of the diversion rate. This weight-based performance measure does not accurately capture the success of decreasing garbage tonnes or account for the changing nature of packaging, which has become lighter in recent years. A weight-based performance measure no longer accurately reflects the success of today's integrated waste management system.

Year over year, the City manages and sends less waste to landfill. Since 2014, the amount of garbage generated per household/unit has declined from 738 kg to 684 kg in 2016. The amount of diverted materials (Blue Bin recycling and Green Bin organic materials) has increased from 693 kg in 2014 to 701 kg in 2016. This could be in part due to trending towards lighter and smaller packaging, fluctuations in the number of households/units serviced, and overall reduced consumption of products and generation of waste.

To measure the performance of the integrated waste management system, the City will start to report on new performance metrics, including reduction in the amount of waste generated per household, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, measuring reuse and overall reduction of waste disposed to landfill. Collectively, these new performance measures will help the City see their successes in moving closer towards an aspirational zero waste goal. 

Expand2016 breakdown by material of residential waste diversion

Residential Waste Diversion - 2016

ProgramWaste Collected (tonnes)Waste Diverted (tonnes)Diversion Rate
Single Family Residential 171,824 314,852 65%
Multi-Unit Residential 183,369 70,771 28%
Total Residential 355,193 385,623 52%

Diversion Summary - 2016

Blue Bin Program 117,240
Yard Waste/Christmas trees
Backyard Composting 19,255
Green Bin (Organics) 112,676
Environment Days/Depots/Reuse Centre
Large Appliances/Scrap Metal 4,894
Grasscycling 13,131
Household Hazardous Waste 1,950
Electronics 993
Deposit Return and Stewardship Program 15,051
Tires 19,394
Diversion in Tonnes 385,622
Waste 355,193
Diversion and Waste 740,815
Percentage Diversion 52%

ExpandCollection Operations Safety 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

To view the final report click here.

City of Toronto Safety Report Recommendations and Action Plan for Collection Operations 

(Acronyms:  SWMS=Solid Waste Management Services,  C & L = Collection & Litter)

Report #Ernst & Young RecommendationsCity Response/PlanTimeline
1.1 Create a public safety mission statement and strategy to ensure public safety is an aspect that is incorporated into the culture and tone of SWMS. SWMS mission statement will be amended. Completed by the second quarter of 2015.
1.2 Create a dedicated role / committee to champion public safety. The champions will be the Director and Managers in C & L Operations. This group will meet regularly and will work with other stakeholders/ Divisions to discuss public safety Implemented effective January 2015; and ongoing.
1.3 Incorporate safe driving into the existing rewards and recognition program. Criteria will be added to the rewards recognition program for  vehicle operators. This will be investigated in 2015. Anticipated implementation 2016.
2.1 Integrate the use of detailed accident analysis to effectively mitigate risks by understanding root causes of accidents and address them with an informed approach SWMS will work with other City Divisions to seek additional data so that more detailed accident analysis, improved investigations and root cause analysis can be conducted. The action will commence in 2015.
3.1 Develop an outreach campaign to educate the public on garage truck operation and how to be safe around them. SWMS to meet with Strategic Communications to discuss potential strategies. The kickoff meeting will occur in early 2015.
4.1 Review administrative duties that do not require supervisor expertise. SWMS will review the current practices to ensure collection supervisors maximize their time in the field. This review will commence in early 2015.
4.2 Retrofit on-board monitoring/ coaching devices. A pilot project to test the use of external cameras on collection vehicles has been completed.

The results of the pilot have been evaluated. External cameras are now mandatory on new truck purchases for SWMS.

SWMS will continue to explore other monitoring technologies as they  become available on the market. 

4.3 Include safe operating and driving behaviour assessment as part of the daily monitoring of drivers. SWMS will review the "Field Safety Checklist" form and it will be revised accordingly. This will commence in early 2015 and will be implemented by mid-2015.
4.4 Identify drivers for refresher vehicle and route training. Divisional and Corporate health and safety personnel will investigate additional training opportunities. This will commence in early 2015. If additional training opportunities are identified these will be implemented into the training program in future years.
4.5 Create driver notes to identify high risk areas and collection times. High risk areas and times will be depicted on driver maps by means of icons or other types of markers. This will commence in 2015.  SWMS is a participant in the City's School Zone Safety Working Group and practices identified will be incorporated.
5.1 Require school safety practice from Contractors responsible for school collection. Requests for Quotations now include a requirement for a specific policy for operating safety in school zones. Best practices are continuing to be improved with contractors and this will be ongoing.
5.2 Review school pick-up to ensure they have the safest collection points. This will be incorporated as part of the customer service implementation / site inspection plan for schools. This recommendation started in late 2014 and is ongoing.
5.3 Review right-hand drive Standard Operating Procedures. The standard working procedures will be reviewed and updated where necessary. This will commence in 2015 and will be revisited annually.
5.4 Detailed review of policies/procedures from a pedestrian/cyclist safety perspective is required prior to accepting new services. This will be reviewed as part of the service level/operating agreements prior to implementing services. This will be done on a go forward basis commencing in 2015.
5.5 Review additional safety approach surrounding the automated arms. SWMS will investigate with the industry potential options for increasing the safety of automated collection arms. This review will commence in early 2015 and will be ongoing. Options identified will be assessed; implementation timing may vary based on the requirements.
5.6 Ensure there are uniform features for a particular vehicle type. Vehicle safety feature requirements are assessed by the Health and Safety Committee prior to new vehicle purchases. This will continue to be an ongoing practice.

Revised June 2017

ExpandLitter Audit Reports

In September 2016, the City of Toronto contracted AET Group Inc. (AET) to conduct a city-wide litter audit to assess the composition and amount of litter on City streets. Both large (four square inches or more) and small (less than four square inches) pieces of litter were studied within the 300 sites previously established in past city-wide litter audits. The methodology used was consistent with past years and again the type, brand and size of the litter was recorded.

2016 audit results:

  • Total number of large litter items increased slightly (approx. 14%) from 2014, but compared to results from 2002 litter audit done, the average amount of large litter decreased by approx. 49%.
  • Non-branded paper towels/napkins was most commonly found large litter item (same as in 2014 audit).
  • Total number of small litter items increased slightly (approx. 15%) from 2014.
  • As seen in past litter audits, most commonly found small litter is gum (approx. 25% of all small litter audited), followed by cigarette butts (approx. 22%).

Details, including information on the measurement of branded litter, is provided in the full report "2016 Toronto Litter Audit."

The City had previously conducted citywide litter audits in 2014, 2012, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2002 using the same methodology, which allowed comparison of each audit's results (see previous litter audit reports below).