Three-item garbage limit in 2024
June 16, 2023
The landfill is filling up fast and more than half of what currently goes to the landfill should go in the green, blue or black bin to be recycled. The City’s Trail Road Waste Facility is expected to reach capacity in 13 to 15 years.
Next year the City of Ottawa will lower its limit for curbside garbage collection to three items on collection day from the current limit of six items. This will help reduce unnecessary waste going to the landfill.
The Special Consideration waste program for residents requiring collection of diapers and incontinence products will continue and will be expanded to include non-hazardous medical waste such as:
- Gastric and nasal tubes that are empty and rinsed
- IV bags and tubing that are empty and rinsed
- Dialysis tubing, filters, disposable towels and sheets
The City will share more information with residents before implementation of this new limit.
Around 85 per cent of households already set out three garbage items or fewer on garbage day. The new limit will encourage the remaining 15 per cent to use their blue, black and green bins.
The three-item limit would not apply to people living in properties with more than six residential units or unavoidable farm waste from agricultural properties.
Households will be allowed to place a maximum of three items for curbside garbage collection on collection day.
A garbage item includes:
- A garbage bag
- A 140-litre container
- A bulky item
Households can put several smaller bags in containers up to 140 litres.
There will continue to be no limit to how much residents can set out through curbside recycling and green bins.
Reducing curbside waste
We encourage residents to reduce their waste by:
- Visiting the Waste reduction and Education page for tips to reduce waste, video tutorials and more.
- Donating gently used items to local charities or community organizations.
- Sorting items in their curbside blue, black and green bin.
Not sure where something goes? Use the Waste Explorer to find out.
Addressing illegal dumping
Municipalities with similar programs reported an increase in illegal dumping of household waste at the beginning, but they indicate it tapered off in the first six months with proactive monitoring, education, and enforcement.
Staff will monitor areas across the City that are prone to illegal dumping such as parks, public spaces, rural ditches and receptacles on private property.
Residents can report illegal dumping online at ottawa.ca/311.
Other options being considered
Other options, including waste-to-energy systems, will be explored through the Solid Waste Master Plan, which will come back to Committee and Council later this year. There is no one solution to Ottawa’s waste issues. The curbside collection changes are necessary to divert unnecessary waste now, even as other medium- and long-term options to preserve landfill life are being evaluated.
Keep people and animals safe
Keep people safe from your waste
Litter (including used masks and gloves)
Residents should dispose of all garbage, including gloves and masks, in waste bins. If you take your used gloves and masks home, throw them away in a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag, and be sure to wash your hands after.
Used paper facial tissues should be placed in plastic bags and can go in the green bin.
Broken glass should be placed in a cardboard box. Close and seal the box then write “broken glass” on it and set it out separately on your next garbage collection day.
Other sharp items that may pose a risk to individuals handling your waste should be wrapped in used paper towel or bubble wrap.
Items such as medical needles, syringes and lancets don’t belong in the garbage or recycling bins. Go to ottawa.ca/wasteexplorer to learn how to dispose of these.
At-home rapid antigen screening
- For residents in the City of Ottawa, rapid COVID test kits from at-home testing must be placed in a plastic bag and then placed in your regular household garbage. This will help ensure the safety of waste collection operators.
Keep animals safe from your waste
Empty food containers can be dangerous to wildlife and pets. Animals may injure or trap themselves trying to get food scraps out of discarded jars, cans and other containers.
These simple steps can help keep animals safe:
Put all trash where it belongs – don’t litter!
Keep your trash inside until collection day.
Rinse out food waste to make empty containers less attractive.
Put lids back on plastic or glass jars before placing them into your blue bin.
Remove lids entirely from cans (don’t bend them inside the can!) and crush the open end of the can shut, to prevent animals from sticking their paws or heads inside.
Cut plastic six-pack holders and other similar items apart before putting them in the garbage.
Curbside garbage collection
How often is garbage collected?
- Garbage is collected every two weeks.
- Green bins are collected every week.
- Recyclables are picked up on alternating weeks (black bin one week, blue bin the next).
- Blue bins and garbage are picked up the same week.
- Leaf and yard waste is collected with your green bin.
- Check your Collection Calendar to confirm your collection schedule.
- Only non-recyclable items should be placed in the garbage.
- Not sure where an item belongs? Please check the Waste Explorer.
How many bags, items or cans can be put out?
Residents receiving curbside collection can set out up to six items every second week on garbage day.
When and where to put your garbage
- Put garbage at the curb any time after 6:00 pm the evening prior to your collection day and no later than 7:00 am on your collection day.
- Place bags or cans on the ground as close as possible to the roadway, but not on the sidewalk, roadway or on top of snow banks.
How to package your garbage
- Do not put recyclables, organics or yard waste in plastic bags.
- To avoid collections issues, please do not use shopping bags or small white garbage bags when setting your garbage at the curb.
- Do not use cardboard boxes for garbage. Cardboard boxes are a recyclable item and must be placed in the black bin.
- Make sure material is packaged or contained securely in a plastic garbage bag or garbage can to avoid loose debris.
- All garbage cans, bags or boxes should not weigh more than 15 Kg (33 lb).
- Separate all broken glass from your garbage and place it in a cardboard box clearly labeled 'broken glass'. Doing otherwise can result in serious injuries to collection operators
- Sawdust, ashes and other material of similar nature go in your green bin. NO hot ashes please.
- Add leaf and yard waste to your green bin. Do not mix leaf and yard waste, recyclables and garbage together.
- All carpet should be tied and bundled. Bundles should be less than 1.2 m (4 ft.) in length, less than 60 cm (2 ft.) in diameter and less than 15 kg (33 lb.) in weight.
Acceptable metal or plastic garbage bag/container
- Maximum 140 litre capacity
- Maximum weight capacity, less than 15 kg/33lb when full
- Two handles and a water tight lid. Container must not have fixed lids
Do not secure lid to garbage container with bungee cord/rope.
No loose garbage inside container.
Waste collection operators will not reach into garbage cans to retrieve bags as it could cause injury.
Do not place glass or sharp objects loose in plastic bags.
Examples of acceptable containers:
Maximum 140 litre can with wheels and removable lid
Maximum 140 litre can without wheels and removable lid
- Cardboard boxes must not be used as a garbage container. Cardboard boxes should be recycled or used for yard waste only. *Exception* A cardboard box can be used to dispose of broken glass. Place broken glass in a cardboard box. Close/seal/tape the box shut and clearly mark on the outside of the box "broken glass". Set cardboard box at the curb with your regular garbage.
- Oversized and overweight containers (+15kg/33lbs).
- Many wheeled containers are too big and too heavy when full. Containers must be less than 125 litres with no fixed lids.
Examples of unacceptable containers:
220 litre / 50 gallon container
240 - 360 litre / 50 - 80 gallon container
For more details on approved container sizes, visit the City's Solid Waste Management by-law.
For more details on approved container storage outside of garbage day, visit Property Standards by-law, section 12.
Disposing of bulky items
You can keep your gently used possessions out of the landfill and help others. Check the item in the Waste Explorer for a list of charitable organizations that accept donations. Please remember to phone ahead before returning an item.
What happens to my garbage?
When your garbage gets picked up, it doesn’t just go away. It stays right here, in Ottawa, at the City’s landfill site.
Take a tour around the Trail Road Waste Facility and find out what happens once the collection trucks have dumped their loads. Meet heavy equipment operator Lynne and Lucy, the hawk. See how leachate (or “garbage juice”) is treated and where landfill gas gets turned into electricity. But most importantly, find out what you can do to help extend the lifespan of this important community asset.
What happens to my garbage?
Visual: Garbage truck is approaching.
Every two weeks, a collection crew shows up to pick up your garbage.
Visual: Truck stops, collection operator picks up garbage, empties contents into vehicle.
Up to 40 trucks make more than 1,000 stops a day. Each waste collection operator walks 21 kilometres during a 10-hour shift – a half marathon! – while lifting 10 tonnes of material.
Visual: Garbage truck driving off.
The collection vehicles crush materials to reduce load volume and decrease trips to the landfill.
Visual: Garbage truck driving onto scale.
When trucks are full, they head to the Trail Road Waste Facility, south-west of Barrhaven.
Visual: Truck being weighed.
All trucks are weighed when they arrive, and again when they leave, so the City can track how much waste is entering the facility.
Visual: Truck leaving scale.
On average, Trail Road receives 1,000 tonnes of garbage per day.
Visual: Lynne Hammond, Heavy Equipment Operator, standing in front of scale house, wearing bright yellow safety gear.
“The vehicles, when they arrive at our landfill, drive up onto our scale house here behind me.
Visual: Pick-up truck with trailer driving onto scale.
The scale attendants process 600 vehicles a day. They guide everyone on where they need to go and take payments from those customers who have to pay a tipping fee.”
Visual: Bird’s eye view of small loads area.
At the small loads area, materials can be dropped off for reuse or recycling.
Visual: Signs for e-waste and recycling drop-off; piles of tires, scrap metal and electronic waste.
There is no charge for glass, metal, plastic, tires, scrap metal and electronic waste. Brush and cardboard are accepted for a small fee.
Visual: Bird’s eye view of freshly added garbage; garbage truck dumping its load.
Any vehicle that brings in a load for disposal, big or small, gets directed to the tipping face.
Visual: Lynne standing on tipping face; compactor crushing garbage.
“The tipping face is the active zone at the edge of a landfill. This mountain of garbage we’re standing on grows everyday, which means the tipping face moves continuously.”
Visual: Garbage truck getting weighed on scale on its way out. Bird’s eye view of tipping face, close-ups of heavy equipment in action.
Collection trucks head back to the scale house after they are emptied. Heavy equipment operators compact newly added waste with an enormous bulldozer and a packer to flatten it as much as possible. Other measures are taken for safety, sustainability and odour control.
Visual: Lynne at the tipping face, pointing to fence in the background; handler with brown falcon on her glove; special vehicle unreeling tarp to cover garbage at night.
“We put up fences around the site to stop garbage such as plastic bags from flying onto the highway nearby. We hire a company that brings in hawks and falcons to deter the seagulls from coming onto the site and spreading the garbage. The tipping face at night is covered with a tarp, soil and woodchips.”
Visual: Workers applying a black cover to decommissioned area; that same area shown from above, partly covered with sand.
Once an area is full, it is sealed with a raincoat-like barrier and various layers of soil, then topped with grass.
Visual: Drone flight over the whole site, from oldest to newest part, most of it looking like a big green hill.
The Trail Road landfill opened in 1980, and the area that is now full is much bigger than the active area. The overall waste footprint is 85 hectares—more than 150 football fields wide. But how much space is left?
Visual: Back at tipping face; unloading and compacting shown from above.
In 2021, we learned that our landfill could reach capacity as early as between 2036 and 2038 if we keep doing what we’re doing. But if all residents strive to create less garbage together, it can last longer.
So, what else happens at Trail Road?
Visual: Bird’s eye view of landfill’s power plant.
The City’s Waste Facility is a highly engineered site. A lot of effort goes into protecting the environment.
Visual: A row of three bright blue poles in grassy area.
Groundwater is monitored carefully, …
Visual: Leachate (garbage juice) facility shown from various angles; foam-covered brown liquid bubbling in basin; tank truck arriving, worker inserting hose to fill tank; close-up of control panel.
… and leachate is collected and pre-treated right at Trail. Leachate – or garbage juice in layman’s terms – is a mix of liquids from wet waste and added rain or snow. After 24 hours in a settling basin, tankers take it to ROPEC, the City’s wastewater treatment plant.
Visual: Gas utilization facility shown from different angles; building with generators, ducts and power lines; close up of gas well with orange tube on decommissioned area.
PowerTrail is a private-public partnership that generates electricity from landfill gas, powering 6,000 homes and businesses. CO2 and methane form when organic matter decomposes in the absence of oxygen. Wells capture these harmful greenhouse gases to prevent them from entering the atmosphere.
Visual: Conveyor belt and excavator between windrows, moving compostable material; potting soil sign and heap of soil for sale at Trail Road.
At an outdoor composting facility, leaf and yard waste is turned into potting soil and then sold to residents so they can reuse it in their own yards or community gardens.
Visual: Glass and steel entrance of modern grey building; wide angle of whole front; drone footage from back of building with four large gates side by side.
The administration building was designed with a Silver LEED green building certification, housing offices in the front and a garage in the back.
Visual: Lynne getting out of a pick-up truck, then standing in front of open gate; water truck spraying on dirt road, big truck parking in garage, compactor slowly moving through gate on big steel studded wheels.
“This building here behind me is where we store, clean and maintain our heavy equipment. Such as the water truck for dust control, our rock trucks for soil management, and then of course our compactor and bulldozer. Our compactor weighs 56 tonnes – that’s the weight of six elephants!”
Visual: Worker in safety vest closing and locking the gate in front of scale house; gate rolls down behind bulldozer parked in garage.
After a long day, they are stored in the garage. At 7 am the next morning, the Waste Facility will open again, and the collection crews will bring in more garbage. Your garbage.
Visual: Person putting something into a green bin and closing lid; other person setting out blue and black bin; collection operators emptying recycling containers into collection vehicles; truck driving off.
Good news: If you make full use of your green bin and recycling bins, you can keep 75 per cent of your waste out of the landfill, but the best way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it.
Visual: Animated cityscape appears, with a small garbage truck slowly crossing screen from left to right. Words and symbols appear in animated sky above.
Choose reusable containers.
Refuse unnecessary packaging.
Sell, swap, donate, regift or repurpose what you no longer need.
Visual: Dollar sign appears.
With your help, our landfill will last longer.
Visual: Question appears; URL appears.
Not sure what goes in which bin? Visit ottawa.ca/wasteexplorer.
Visual: Ottawa logo appears.
Holiday collection schedule
For information on how to dispose of a Christmas tree, please visit the Green bin and leaf and yard waste page.
The City would like to remind residents that there is no collection of green bin, recycling and garbage on the following statutory holidays:
New Year: Monday, January 1
Family Day: Monday, February 19
Good Friday: Friday, March 29
Easter Monday: Monday, April 1
Victoria Day: Monday, May 20
Canada Day: Monday, July 1
Colonel By Day: Monday, August 5
Labour Day: Monday, September 2
Thanksgiving Day: Monday, October 14
- Christmas Day: Wednesday, December 25
Recycling, green bin and garbage collection schedules will be delayed by one day for the remainder of the week, with Saturday making up for the missed day.
For example, if your collection day falls on a Monday statutory holiday, collection would shift to Tuesday, a regular Tuesday collection day would shift to Wednesday, Wednesday to Thursday, Thursday to Friday, and Friday to Saturday.
Statutory Holiday Exceptions for 2024
There are no changes to the recycling, green bin, and garbage collection schedule on the following days:
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: Monday, September 30
Remembrance Day: Monday, November 11
Boxing Day: Thursday, December 26
Trail Road Landfill: Rates, hours and potting soil purchase
In response to the ongoing pandemic, the following practices and precautions are in place at the Trail Waste Facility to keep both the public and staff safe, and must be observed by all individuals attending the landfill:
- Payment is contactless (i.e., Interac, Visa, MasterCard, Amex) at the scale house to address physical distancing requirements.
- The public will be permitted to sort their materials at the small load deposit area, however – sorting materials in advance is recommended.
- Residents will be required to practice social distancing while in the landfill.
Ottawa residents and businesses can dispose of waste material at this facility. The Trail Road Waste Facility only accepts non-hazardous waste generated within the geographic boundaries of the City of Ottawa.
- Household hazardous waste is NOT accepted
- Liquid waste is NOT accepted
An environmental assessment to expand the Trail Road Waste Facility was approved in June of 2005. The expansion will provide an additional 10 to 40 years past 2008, depending on how much future waste can be successfully diverted from the landfill. Documents on the Trail Waste Facility Landfill Optimization/Expansion Project are available to the public at the Ottawa Public Library.
Location and hours of operation
4475 Trail Road (off Moodie Drive, south of Fallowfield Road)
The landfill site is open to the public during the hours listed below.
Monday to Friday: 7 am to 6 pm
Please note: The Trail Road Waste Facility is open on Good Friday (Friday, March 29) and Easter Monday (Monday, April 1), from 9 am to 5 pm
The facility will also be open to the public on the following Saturdays:
- February 24 – 7 am to 6 pm
- March 9 – 8 am to 4 pm
- March 23 – 8 am to 4 pm
- March 30 – 7 am to 6 pm
- April 6 – 7 am to 6 pm
- April 20 – 8 am to 4 pm
- May 4 – 8 am to 4 pm
- May 18 – 8 am to 4 pm
- May 25 – 7 am to 6 pm
Safety equipment requirements
CSA-certified green patch footwear and hi-visibility clothing is required for all persons using the Main Disposal Area or Small Load Area #2 (at the tipping face). Persons who do not have the required protective clothing will continue to have access to the Small Load Area #1. These changes are being introduced in order to ensure the safety of everyone on site. Should you have any questions, please contact the City at 3-1-1.
Landfill rates (2024)
The Trail Road Waste Facility Scale House accepts the following payment methods:
All landfill fees, except for the potting soil sales, are exempt from HST. Potting soil is available for purchase while quantities last. Please bring a shovel and containers for loading your own potting soil and wear appropriate footwear.
|($9.20 min. $46/tonne)
|Potting soil is available for purchase while quantities last.
|*Residential, commercial, demolition and construction garbage
|Minimum fee applies <250 kg - Flat rate $35.50, otherwise charged by the weight in tonnes times the rate
|Soil/fill, (top soil, sand, sod)
|$76/tonne (<200kg minimum is $15.20)
|Must be free of waste. Large quantities over 5 tonnes must be pre-approved. Please contact 3-1-1 for more information.
|Fill (asphalt, masonry, concrete without rebar)
|$142/tonne (<200kg is $35.50)
|Must be free of waste.
|$142/tonne (<200kg is $35.50)
|$284/tonne (minimum $71 <250 kg)
|As per definition of farm waste from registered farms only.
|Mixed garbage and recyclable materials
|$284/tonne (minimum $71 <250 kg)
|$576/tonne (1 tonne minimum, per tonne)
We have started our transition to Individual Producer Responsibility and as a result, as of July 1, 2023, we no longer accept glass, metal, plastic or cardboard packaging materials.
Packaging materials like glass and plastic bottles, tin and aluminum cans or cardboard boxes belong in the residential blue and black bin recycling program for regular curbside collection. For more information visit Ottawa.ca/IPR.
|Brush and yard waste
|Material must be under 7 cm diameter. Larger source separated material is garbage ($142/tonne). Minimum fee applies if <100 kg. Flat rate of $4.30, otherwise charged by the weight in tonnes times the rate.
|Large brush and yard waste
|Material that is over 7 cm diameter. Larger source separated material is garbage ($142/tonne). Minimum fee applies if <100 kg. Flat rate of $14.20, otherwise charged by the weight in tonnes times the rate.
|Source separated metals (no garbage)
|Source separated electronic waste (no garbage)
|Ticket reprint (per reprint)
- We do NOT accept liquid waste in the landfill.
- We do NOT accept hazardous waste at the landfill.
- Oil tanks/drums MUST be cut in half or perforated many times. If you are not equipped to safely and properly perform this work, please contact a waste disposal company to remove the tank/drum.
- Safety requirement: Steel toe boots and high visibility vests must be worn at main tipping areas.
- Payment options: Interac, Visa, AMEX and MasterCard. Please note: Until further notice the Trail Road Waste Facility, we will not be accepting cash or personal cheques as a method of payment.
Other landfill sites
- Waste Connections of Canada Inc (WCC), previously Huneault Dump – 3354 Navan Road, 613-824-7289
- Waste Management Landfill, West Carleton Environmental Centre – 2301 Carp Road, 613-831-3562
- Tomlinson Waste Recovery Centre – 106 Westhunt Drive (Carp), 613-836-6069
Please ensure to contact the landfill directly before attending to ensure they are open, confirm their rates and materials accepted.
Yellow Bag program
The Yellow Bag program is a convenient and affordable garbage and waste diversion service for small businesses in Ottawa that generate smaller amounts of garbage.
To qualify for the program, garbage must be set out every two weeks in a pre-purchased yellow bag. Maximize your recycling and participate in the Green Bin program to minimize the amount of garbage you produce.
Check your Collection Calendar to confirm your collection schedule.
What are the benefits of the Yellow Bag program to your business?
- The program provides an affordable option for the collection of your business recycling, organics and garbage waste
- It reduces garbage generated from your business with a focus on blue and black box recycling
- It lowers your waste disposal costs
- It leads to an increase in organics waste diversion through the green bin
- It helps our community save valuable landfill space and
- It shows your customers that you are committed to the environment.
Who can participate in the Yellow Bag program?
- Any Ottawa business that generates sixteen bags or less of garbage every two weeks can participate and
- If your business is located in a building with multiple business tenants, all businesses in the building must be Yellow Bag program participants and all of the businesses together cannot generate more than sixteen bags of garbage every two weeks
- Anyone can register on behalf of your building
What is the cost?
- Yellow bags are sold in packages of four for $17.60, only $4.40 per bag (effective January 1, 2024)
- No additional fee is charged to have recycling and green bin material collected
Please note: Although we encourage businesses to divert waste through the recycling and green bin program, you do need to set out garbage every two weeks in a pre-purchased yellow bag in order to qualify for the program.
Where can I get yellow bags?
The yellow bags are available at participating Home Hardware retailers and a BMR. Here are the Home Hardware retailers and a BMR where you can purchase your Yellow Bags:
|Yellow Bag Retailers
|Beacon Hill Home Hardware
|1934 Montreal Road located in Ogilvie Square
|Bridlewood Home Hardware
|90 Michael Cowpland Drive
|Capital Home Hardware
|736 Bank Street
|Elmvale Acres Home Hardware
|1910 St. Laurent Boulevard located in Elmvale Acres Shopping Centre
|Leitrim Home Hardware
|4836 Bank Street
|Manotick Home Hardware
|1166 Beaverwood Road located in the Mews of Manotick
|Morris Home Hardware
|1226 Wellington Street
|6379 Perth Road
|Stittsville Home Hardware
|6001 Hazeldean Road
|Trudel Home Hardware
|329 March Road
The following service will be provided in person. We strongly recommend you schedule an appointment with us, but walk-ins will be accepted between 8:30am – 12pm and 1pm - 4pm.
Please select a location to book an appointment time:
Metcalfe Client Service Centre, 8243 Victoria Street (open Tuesday)
West Carleton Client Service Centre, 5670 Carp Road (open Wednesday)
North Gower Client Service Centre, 2155 Roger Stevens Drive (open Thursday)
How does the Yellow Bag program work?
- Complete the Yellow Bag Registration Form
- You may also contact 3-1-1 to have to the registration form emailed to you
- If you are approved, the City will contact you
- You will then receive a free blue and black box and green bin and a list of locations where you can buy yellow bags
- The yellow bags are collected bi-weekly on your blue box collection day. Check your waste collection calendar to confirm your collection day.
- You can set out 15 containers of blue or black box materials during the week that each recycling stream is collected; and
- You can set out a maximum of three green bins every week
How to set out your garbage and recyclables?
- Place at the curb before 7 am on your collection day (Check the waste collection calendar to confirm your collection day)
- Place garbage in yellow bag (not more than 15 kg or 33 lbs per bag). Limit is 16 yellow bags every two weeks
- If your business is part of the special consideration program (diapers and incontinence products collection), yellow bags must be used
The Yellow Bag program does not accept:
- Construction, renovation wastes from building alterations
- Hazardous waste
- Liquid wastes such as cooking oils and grease trap wastes
If you have a legally binding waste collection contract with another company, you may be subject to cancellation penalties by participating in this program. Be sure to check with your service provider.