What Goes in Ottawa’s Recycling Bins

Three main bin-based collection programs have been put in place to help Ottawa residents minimize their impact on the environment through recycling waste and diverting it away from landfills. These Blue, Black, and Green Bin programs function to encourage Ottawa residents to recycle with convenient programs, and streamlined and efficient collection services. Here is a closer look at what can go into Ottawa’s multi-coloured recycling bins, to help you better understand what to do with your waste.

Blue Bins (Glass, Metals, Plastics)

Ottawa’s Blue Bin Program functions to eliminate glass, metals, and plastics from landfills, repurposing them in the process. Items permitted for blue bins include empty glass bottles and jars, soft drink cans, jar lids, aluminum containers, aluminum foil (clean or food soiled), plastic take-out containers, planting trays, flower pots, plastic bottles and jars, and various cartons and/or boxes such as those to hold milk, juice, drinks or soup. Empty alcohol containers smaller than 100 ml are also allowed, but bear in mind that anything larger must be returned for a refund at The Beer Store locations in Ontario. Also remember that blue bins shouldn’t exceed 15kg, to avoid equipment or handling-related issues during the collection or sorting process. Certain items including light bulbs, ceramics, chip bags, and Styrofoam packaging shouldn’t be placed in blue bins, as well as any kind of plastic bags. Consult the City of Ottawa’s garbage and recycling page to view the complete list of non-recyclables.

Black Bins (Paper and Cardboard)

Paper, cardboard, and similar items are destined for the city’s Black Bin Program. Hard and soft cover books, computer paper and writing pads, egg cartons, wrapping paper, shoe and laundry detergent boxes, and clean pizza boxes are also acceptable, among other items. Paper and cardboard placed in black bins must be clean, and like blue bins, the total weight of each black bin cannot exceed 15 kg once full. Food soiled items should not be placed in these bins, and are better suited for either green bins (see below) or garbage. Paper bags are permitted as well, but never attempt to recycle plastic bags of any kind in any of the city’s recycling bins, regardless of program. Simply re-use them yourself or take them to one of the city’s Take it Back! partners.

Green Bins (Organics)

A highly effective way of mitigating the unnecessary dumping of compostable residential waste in landfills, the Green Bin Program works hard to reduce the need for such sites. By weight, 45% of Ottawa’s garbage comprises of organic waste that can be placed in green bins. Everything from yard waste and cat litter to ashes, kitchen scraps, and sawdust can be recycled this way, as well as items such as wax paper and food-soiled pizza boxes, food-soiled paper products, tissues and paper towels, and wax-lined coffee cups. Never place plastic bags — even compostable varieties — into these bins, as well as diapers, dog feces, and sanitary products. The Green Bin Program page on the City of Ottawa’s website provides extensive details of what is and isn’t permitted, as well as instructions on how to avoid pick-up problems.

When in doubt of pickup times or dates, request a downloadable collection calendar through the online tool or contact info on this page. Also, consider visiting the Take it Back! program’s webpage or call 613-580-2424 (ext. 22601) to learn how to return recyclable products to local participating businesses that either won’t fit in the city’s bins or aren’t permitted.

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