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Garbage and recycling during COVID-19

There is no change to curbside garbage and recycling collection.

Litter (including used masks and gloves)

  • We are seeing an increase in disposable gloves and masks discarded on the ground in public, especially in grocery store parking lots. Used gloves and masks are garbage and do not belong on the ground.
  • 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 as per regular waste disposal practices.

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.

For information about on-site workplace rapid antigen screening, please visit

What goes in your blue bin

Important blue bin reminders:

  • All recyclables must be placed loose in an approved City of Ottawa blue bin to help with sorting at the recycling facility.
  • Plastic bags should not be used to package recyclables. They cannot be opened by the automated sorting process at the recycling facility and the plastic bags get caught in the equipment.
  • Clear/blue/biodegradable plastic bags are not accepted. Clean plastic grocery bags should be reused or brought to a Take it Back! partners.
  • Your blue bin should not weigh more than 15 kg when full.
  • Not sure how to dispose of a specific item? Check the Waste Explorer.

What goes in your blue bin

Blue bin recyclable:


  • Empty bottles and jars


  • Metal cans
  • Soft drink cans
  • Jar lids
  • Aluminum containers (clean or food soiled)
  • Aluminum foil (clean or food soiled)
  • Empty paint cans with lids removed
  • Empty aerosol cans (hairspray, paint, whipping cream)
  • Spiral-wound canisters with metal ends (frozen concentrate cans, potato chip tube)


  • Food and household containers numbers 1 to 7
    • Please note : Rigid #6 plastics such as yogurt cups and clear plastics are accepted, while expanded #6 such as Styrofoam are not accepted.

  • Take-out containers, bakery and produce containers (clam shells)
  • Pails (remove metal handle)
  • Planting trays
  • Flower pots
  • Single serve yogurt cups
  • Clear plastic egg cartons
  • Plastic bottles, jars and jugs
  • Tubs and tub lids (yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers)


  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Drink boxes
  • Soup boxes
  • Frozen meal trays and take-out containers

Empty Alcohol Containers

Empty wine, beer and spirit containers greater than 100 ml purchased in Ontario must be returned, for refund at The Beer Store.


Place these items in your regular garbage.


  • Ceramics such as dishes, cups and pottery
  • Other glass such as drinking glasses, window glass, light bulbs, and mirrors
  • CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent) can be returned to a Take it Back! partner or a Household Hazardous Waste Depot


  • Metal clothes hangers
  • Scrap metal
  • Chip bags


  • #6 expanded polystyrene (such as styrofoam containers and packaging, coffee cup lids, meat trays and foam clam shells)
  • All plastic bags
  • Hard plastics such as dishes, cups, toys, make-up jars, laundry baskets
  • Motor oil containers

Find out what happens to your recycling.  

What goes in your black bin

Important black bin reminders

  • Paper and cardboard must be clean.
  • Your black bin should not weigh more than 15 kg when full.
  • Flatten the boxes and place them into one larger box.
  • Have a specific question about an item? Check the Waste Explorer.

What can I put in my black bin?

  • Newspaper and flyers
  • Magazines and catalogues
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Telephone books
  • Cereal and cracker boxes (remove plastic liners)
  • Shoe and laundry detergent boxes
  • Writing and computer paper, paper pads
  • Hard and soft cover books
  • Paper egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls
  • Gift wrapping paper and greeting cards
  • Clean paper shopping bags or paper packaging
  • Frozen dinner boxes
  • Clean pizza boxes 

Place these items in your green bin:

  • Waxed paper
  • Food soiled pizza boxes
  • Other soiled paper products
  • Tissues and paper towels (soiled or clean)
  • Coffee cups (wax lined)

Place these items in your garbage:

  • Cereal and cracker box liners, chip and cookie bags and canisters
  • Chocolate bar and candy wrappings
  • Wooden clementine and orange crates
  • Foil wrapping paper, bows, ribbons
  • Paper and cardboard lined with foil

Find out what happens to your recycling

How recycling works

Recycling makes a difference

Thank you, Ottawa! In 2021, you kept more than 23,000 tonnes of glass, metal and plastic out of the landfill, as well as 39,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard.

The materials got sorted and turned into valuable resources at two local processing plants. Plastics were mainly sold in Ontario and Quebec. Aluminum and tin cans went to the US. Paper and cardboard were sold in India, Malaysia and Quebec.

The sales earned the City more than $15,000,000. That money was used to offset most of the cost of the recycling program.

What happens to our recyclables?

Many everyday items don't belong in the landfill and can instead be made into something new.

Did you know... most car parts, t-shirts, parkas, sleeping bags, home insulation, garden furniture and playground equipment use material from what you recycle in your blue and black bins, for example:

  • Plastic: Lumber for decks or park benches, lawn chairs, pipes, clothing
  • Metal: Chains, automotive parts
  • Glass: Reused for road and pad construction
  • Cartons: Paper towels
  • Cardboard, boxboard, paper: More cardboard, boxboard and paper
Visual: Text appears.

What happens to my recycling?

Visual: Animated icons of recyclable material appear.

Let’s hear the real story behind how glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard is processed right here in Ottawa. The more you know about recycling and how it works, the better you can sort the items.

Visual: Split screen – a full blue bin and a full black bin are being placed at the curb.

Blue and black bins are collected on alternating weeks.

Visual: Truck stops, waste collection operator picks up bins, puts contents into vehicle.

On average, each recycling truck makes 1,100 stops a day.

Visual: Collection vehicle drives onto scale.

Trucks are weighed when entering the recycling facility, loads are then tipped into a holding area.

Visual: Split screen – truck on the left tipping glass, metal and plastic, truck on the right tipping paper and cardboard. Front-end loader pushes materials towards conveyor belt. Blue and black bin icons appear.

86 trucks unload glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard daily. More than 93 tonnes of blue bin material and 142 tonnes of black bin material is processed every day.

Visual: Blue bin icon re-appears. Conveyor belt moves glass, metal, plastic upwards.

At the blue bin processing facility, material flows up the conveyor belt. The metering drum controls the flow of material.

Visual: Conveyor belt now moves horizontally. Staff sifting through material.

As we go through the process you will see machines using movement, weight, electricity, magnets, air, and infrared to sort.

Visual: Hands with gloves pulling out items, throwing them into nearby opening.

On the pre-sort line, workers open bags and remove garbage …

Visual: Conveyor belt moving up again, material falling from top edge into machine with quickly shifting iron panels.

…, bulky plastic, and scrap metal. The ballistic separator removes 2 dimensional items…

Visual: Plastic bags and film plastics falling into bunker, forming a large pile.

… like film plastic from the system. Unacceptable items like plastic bags end up at the landfill site.

Visual: Conveyor belt moving material upwards.

The recyclables then travel up to the drum magnet.

Visual: Animated graphic to show how magnetic sorting works.

This spinning magnet captures tin cans and other metals and drops them onto a conveyor belt.

Visual: Conveyor belt moving materials.

All materials other than metal and glass flow down the conveyor belt, towards 2 optical sorters.

Visual: View through window into machine; bright light shows plastics flying off conveyor belt in different directions.

Infra red sensors identify the different types of plastic. Plastics are blown by air jets into the appropriate chutes.

Visual: Animated icons appear – a plastic water bottle, a laundry detergent bottle, a gable top milk carton, a spray bottle and two types of squeeze bottles.

These sorters are used to separate the following containers: #1 plastics, #2 plastics, cartons, and #3-5 plastics.

Visual: Staff removing garbage from conveyor belt.

Workers at quality control stations remove any leftover non-recyclable items.

Visual: Hands with gloves sorting what is left into chutes.

The remaining materials continue on for manual sorting.

Visual: Aluminum products flying from one conveyor belt onto another. Staff going through aluminum products on conveyor belt.

The eddy current separator puts an electrical charge into aluminum cans, and a magnet propels the cans onto a separate belt.

Visual: Conveyor belt moving mixed material towards bright light. Items fall onto pile in tipping area where process began.

Finally, another optical sorter captures materials that were missed by the process and sends them back for another round of sorting.

Visual: Objects sorted out during process – things like a tire, a hose, cables, a lunch box and a tennis racket.

Contamination is material not acceptable in the blue or black bin program. These items are sent to the landfill.

Visual: Large cubes of compressed plastic material coming out of machine that ties them up with wire.

A baler crushes various materials into cubes for easy shipping.

Visual: Large cubes of aluminum, stacked.

Bales of steel such as tin cans…

Visual: Bale of cartons.

and gable, such as milk cartons

Visual: Worker pulling out materials from bale of drink cans.

Bales are inspected for quality before they are shipped.

Visual: Worker loading plastic bale onto truck with forklift. Black bin icon appears. Front-end loader moving paper and cardboard.

Let’s go over how we separate the paper and cardboard from your black bin. Once again, material is loaded onto a conveyor belt, and a metering drum controls the amount of material entering the facility.

Visual: Paper and cardboard items falling off a conveyor belt onto separate belts.

A disc screener sorts the large cardboard from the rest of the material.

Visual: Pieces of cardboard moving upwards.

The cardboard then travels directly on a conveyor belt to a baler.

Visual: Paper and boxboard moving upwards.

The remaining material is moved on two parallel conveyor belts to the main sorting room.

Visual: Staff sifting through material, putting items into different chutes.

Workers pull off the boxboard, and any leftover cardboard for recycling. Garbage is also removed.

Visual: Large piles of cardboard and paper, separated by concrete walls.

These materials are dropped into the appropriate bunkers directly below the main sort room.

Visual: Growing pile of paper.

The only remaining material is paper, which falls off the conveyor belts into its own bunker.

Visual: Tunnel full of items like bags, film plastic, bubble wrap.

Garbage removed from the recycling is transported to landfill.

Visual: Front-end loader dropping paper in front of baling machine.

Material is then moved from the bunkers for baling.

Visual: Large cube of boxboard leaving baling machine.

Paper, boxboard and cardboard is baled for shipping to market. Each bale can weigh up to 700 kilograms.

Visual: White truck leaving the facility.

The material is made into new products.

Visual: Animated water bottle appears, morphs into t-shirt.

Number 1 bottles are transformed into fleece, t-shirts, and parkas.

Visual: Animated laundry detergent bottle appears, morphs into pipe.

Number 2 plastics like laundry detergent bottles and shampoo bottles are transformed into water pipes, culverts, and more number 2 bottles.

Visual: Animated spray bottle appears, morphs into bench.

Mixed plastics like plastic tub lids are transformed into plastic lumber, playground equipment, and park benches.

Visual: Animated aluminum can appears, morphs into new aluminum can.

Aluminum like soft drink cans, are transformed into aluminum sheeting for automobiles and more aluminum cans.

Visual: Animated glass bottle appears, morphs into road.

Glass bottles & jars get transformed into road construction materials…

Visual: Animated soup can appears, morphs into chain.

… and steel soup cans get transformed into chains, piping, household appliances, and automotive parts.

Visual: Animated gable top container appears, morphs into paper towel roll.

Milk and juice boxes get transformed into paper towels, paper trays, cardboard and tissues.

Visual: Animated cardboard box appears, morphs into new box.

Old corrugated cardboard is transformed into more old corrugated cardboard.

Visual: Animated newspaper appears, morphs into new newspaper.

Paper is transformed into paper and insulation.

Visual: Animated cereal box appears, morphs into new box.

Boxboard is transformed into cereal and cracker boxes, etc.

Visual: Question appears, URL appears.

Not sure where to dispose of a household item? Visit

Visual: Ottawa logo appears.

Recycling creates jobs

Recycling creates jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors and boosts the economy.

Recycling protects our natural resources

One tree filters up to 60 lbs of pollutants each year.

Together, we can do better.

Ottawa diverts just under 50% of garbage from the landfill. We're great at recycling cardboard and newspaper, but we could do better on recycling juice cartons and aluminum foil.

Here's how we're doing so far:

Item Percent Recycled
Cardboard 90%
Newspaper 93%
Aluminum cans 64%
Soup and food, steel and tin cans 71%
Boxboard 75%
Plastic Bottles (#1) 77%
Plastic Bottles (#2) 71%
Computer paper, envelopes and other household paper 67%
Milk/drink/soup cartons 57%
Aluminum foil and trays 18%


The blue bin has a 16% contamination rate, with the largest contaminant being film plastic, e.g. plastic bags. The black bin has a 2% contamination rate.