Waste reduction and education

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Quick Tips to Reduce Waste


  • Buy less.
  • Avoid unnecessary packaging and individually wrapped items.
  • Say no to non-recyclable plastic items like straws, clingfilm or styrofoam.
  • Stop buying so-called “convenience food” like pre-packaged meals.
  • Create a shopping list before hitting the grocery stores and stick to what you really need.
  • Instead of using coffee pods, try making coffee or tea the traditional way.
  • Swap paper towels for washable cloths and rags.
  • Choose liquid soap or powder over dishwasher and laundry detergent pods.
  • Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.
  • Support restaurants that use recyclable take-out containers.
  • Choose to go paperless for your bills, receipts & documents, for example your water bill or property taxes.


  • Plan weekly meals to reduce food waste.
  • Take inventory of your fridge and pantry, so you are mindful of foods and leftovers that need to be eaten soon.
  • Growing your own vegetables helps reduce packaging and energy costs associated with shipping fruits and vegetables globally. You can even do it with limited space, e.g. on a balcony.
  • Consider shopping in bulk or at zero waste food stores to save on packaging.
  • Use reusable cutlery, dishes and glassware.
  • Borrow or rent items as opposed to buying something you may only use once, for example at the Ottawa Tool Library.
  • Try and purchase quality clothing that will last, avoid fast fashion.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries.
  • Use reusable bags, bottles, cups and containers while out and about.
  • When making a purchase or disposal decision, consider the most environmentally friendly option.
  • Save all your refundable cans and bottles to be returned.


  • Shop at second-hand stores.
  • Give your household items and furniture a second life by donating them to thrift stores or local charities.
  • Regift things you don’t need or swap them with others.
  • Always attempt to repair before buying new.
  • Use old documents as scrap paper to write notes or lists.
  • Keep boxes and shipping material like bubble wrap for the next time you need to mail a parcel.
  • Save gift wrap and bags for another occasion.
  • Reuse food packaging materials such as bread clips and elastics.
  • Join a digital trading, swapping, give-away platform or community group, for example there are many for all purposes on Facebook.


  • Get creative and use items found around the house for crafts, e.g. create funky bracelets from plastic bags, lampshades from broken umbrellas, room dividers from CDs, even coffee tables from old windows.
  • Use empty glass mason jars as vases, candle jars or to store food in.
  • Good at sewing? Upcycle and turn any bland piece of clothing into an eye-catcher.
  • Make bird feeders out of plastic bottles.
  • Turn old clothes into household rags to replace paper towels.
  • Save and wash empty containers (e.g. yogurt containers, ice cream containers…) to use as household kitchenware.


  • Participate in the City’s recycling and composting programs to help divert waste from the landfill.
  • Make an effort to recycle all plastic containers used around your home, including shampoo and laundry detergent bottles.
  • Check out the City of Ottawa's Waste Explorer to find out how to dispose of your household items properly.
  • Most household items can be taken back for reuse or recycling to more than 575 retailers in the Ottawa area. Visit the Waste Explorer for a retailer near you.

Videos: What happens to my waste?

Ottawa started the Green Bin Program in 2010.
Using your green bin continues to be one of the best ways to help our environment.
Keeping organic waste out of the landfill lowers the amount of methane that is created and reduces greenhouse gases.
How do we get from here…and here…to there?
It starts from our homes –
– whether you live in a house or multi-residential property.
You can start the waste reduction process by taking the time to think about your organic waste and putting it in the green bin.
After all, our city produces over 80,000 tonnes of organic waste from the green bin annually. That is the weight of 11,000 elephants.
All food waste belongs in the green bin. This includes mouldy food, banana peels, egg shells, potatoes peels, meat bones, grease, cooking oil and any food scraps you will not consume.
Waste collection operators collect your green bin material weekly…
… and transport it to the organics processing facility.
The organics processing facility uses technology to reduce and eliminate odours throughout the process resulting in clean air and water vapour evaporating from the stack.
Trucks are weighed once as they enter the facility loaded with organics and again when they exit the facility empty.
Waste is dumped in the receiving area, known as the tipping floor.
Then it is placed in a machine that tears apart any bags containing waste.
Incoming organic material is mixed with material that has already been partially processed.
Mixed material is put into a tunnel so that aerobic – or “with oxygen” composting can take place.
The accelerated aerobic composting process takes place within 7–14 days, depending on its mixture. Good bacteria growth is encouraged by “cooking”…
… the material at 55 degrees Celsius for several days using recirculated water and air to activate the good bacteria, stimulate decomposition and generate heat. Disease-causing microorganisms, …
…also called pathogens, are eliminated throughout the process.
The material is fed from the tunnel …
… into another machine that screens outgoing material.
Plastic bags and other non-organic waste are separated and sent to landfill.
Organics that did not break down completely are reused as mixing material.
What do we end up with?
Alternative organic fertilizers or soil amendment products called Non-Agricultural Source Material (NASM) that is rich in nutrients and improves soil quality and…
… can also be used as animal bedding to help livestock for local farmers.
Organic processing facilities must follow federal and provincial regulations…
…and quality standards in producing outgoing materials…
…so that they are safe and our health and environment remains protected.
Learn more on how you can reduce waste and support the composting process…
…at Ottawa dot ca forward slash Green Bin.
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 Ottawa.ca/wasteexplorer

Visual: Ottawa logo appears.
Visual: Garbage can being placed beside green bin at the curb; title appears.

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.

Buy less.
Repair more.
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.
Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR, is a policy approach in which producers – the businesses that supply packaging and paper to residents – are responsible for the end-of-life management of their materials.

That means contributing financially to, and in some cases, operating the recycling system.

EPR starts with environmental legislation, obligating producers to take responsibility for their materials straight through to end of life. Recovery and recycling targets are set and reporting requirements are defined.
This helps shift material from the waste stream into the recycling system.

To fulfill these legal obligations, many producers join a Producer Responsibility Organization, or P-R-O, who administer an EPR program on their behalf.

Producers pay fees to a P-R-O and the P-R-O uses the fee revenue to support the collection, sorting and recycling of material.

In some EPR models, a single jurisdiction is managed as a whole – with a consistent material list and an integrated material management supply chain. This creates greater scale and efficiency.

Residents are informed what is accepted and how to recycle it through promotion and education.

Material is then collected from residents’ homes or depots in partnership with local governments or private waste management companies.

Material is then brought to a material recovery facility, to be weighed…sorted… and baled by specific material type, such as the kind of paper or plastic resin.

Because of the potential scale of the system, EPR can facilitate investment in infrastructure and advanced sorting technologies, resulting in better quality materials and more of the material ultimately being recycled.

The goal is to create a circular economy for material by selling it to verified end markets to be made into new products.

Throughout this process, the amount and type of material is tracked, weighed and recorded so performance requirements are fulfilled and results can be verified and improved.

In the end, the P-R-O ensures that producers meet their regulatory obligations, and verify their performance targets.

The material enters back into the market, contributing to a circular economy.

Waste Reduction Tutorials

Want more all-season tips? Just follow our former summer students Cayla and Alexa to the kitchen, the closet and the supermarket – they’ll meet you in the videos below! 

Making the most of your food

Food waste... scratch that! Plan ahead before grocery shopping so you only buy what you really need. Don’t neglect your leftovers either; they turn into sweet and savoury treats.

Visual: Woman standing in kitchen, writing on a piece of paper.

Reducing food waste is simple when you plan ahead.

Visual: Walks to refrigerator and opens it, then closes it.

Stick to a list and use food you already have.

Visual: Woman carrying red, fabric bag walks to the refrigerator. Puts new yoghurt container behind one that’s already in fridge, does the same with berries. Then throws a lemon into a countertop kitchen- container used for organic waste.

When putting away new groceries, place what’s already in your fridge at the front that way eating it first is made a priority.

Visual: Rotten bananas, morphing into baked bread in glass cookware. Plain noodles in glass container, morphing into a pasta dish with chickpeas, feta cheese, cucumber, and tomatoes.

Transform what’s still edible instead of throwing it out. Turn your ripe bananas into banana bread, and use your leftover noodles to make pasta salad!

Visual: Woman opens fridge. Pulls out maple syrup bottle and tips it to see level of liquid inside.

Be sure to regularly check how much food is left in your jars and bottles.

Visual: Woman walks to kitchen island and writes on paper.

That way you are mindful of what you have the next time you hit the grocery store.

Visual: Woman closes refrigerator doors. Pasta dish and banana bread sitting on kitchen counter.

Food waste is a simple thing to avoid, as long as your mindful of what you have and take inspiration from recipes.

Upcycling your style 

Staying trendy doesn’t have to be expensive or wasteful. Try these fun clothing DIYs and outfit ideas to spruce up your current wardrobe!

Visual: Woman walks into closet, turns light on. Picks up dress on hanger and holds it in front of her.

Clothing styles come and go but look no further than your own closet to stay trendy.

Visual: Blue t-shirt spread out on wooden floor. Next, t-shirt is tied up with elastics in a bathtub, getting sprayed with a liquid from all sides.

Dye dull, faded, or stained clothes to brighten up your look. Or try reverse tie-dye and let bleach transform that bland blue t-shirt into a piece of art.

Visual: Blue jeans spread out on wooden floor. Next, jeans are being cut with scissors and being perforated with tweezers.

Cut old jeans into shorts or distress denim with a disposable shaving razor or tweezers.

Visual: Grey shirt with scoop neckline spread out on wooden floor. Scissors cutting across shirt halfway down. Woman rolls excess t-shirt fabric and puts it in her hair to tie it back.

Make an old shirt feel new by cropping it. The leftover fabric can be used to make an accessory to pair with your new outfit.

Visual: Jean jacket spread out on wooden floor. Woman using an iron on an iron board to attach a patch to the jacket.

Iron-on patches give your denim jacket a fresh new look.

Visual: Clothes spread out on bed. Blue polo shirt matched with jeans, beside a pink tank top combined with a beige, plaid shirt. A person swaps the blue top for the pink top.

Not really into DIY? Swap clothes with friends or pair pieces from your closet together in a different way.

Visual: Two women twirl and smile. One is wearing the blue t-shirt with pink bleach stains, the other one the freshly cropped grey top.

Stitch before you ditch - upcycling tips that will revive your wardrobe into closet staples. Get crafty Ottawa!

Saying good-bye to single use plastics 

Single use plastic items are not cool, reusing everyday items is the way to go. Jump on the bandwagon and try some of these simple swaps to shop and live sustainably. 

Visual: Raw chicken breasts on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic on a kitchen counter, surrounded by Styrofoam and plastic containers, plastic bags, a plastic water bottle and plastic cutlery.

Single-use items contaminate the environment and take up precious space in the landfill. Consider these simple swaps to live and shop sustainably.

Visual: Woman walks down stairs and grabs a small, white fabric bag and a bigger red, fabric bag. Opens front door and leaves home.

Get into the habit of bringing your own reusable grocery and produce bags when going shopping. Keep them handy so you're ready to bring them along with you to the mall or the grocery store.

Visual: Raw chicken breasts in Styrofoam packaging on kitchen counter, marked with a red “x”. Meat wrapped in butcher paper with green check mark.

Shop mindfully and support brands with less packaging. Try to ditch the styrofoam and choose recyclable materials.

Visual: Ziplock bag and plastic wrap on kitchen counter, marked with a red “x”. Beeswax wrap and reusable food container with a green check mark.

Replace plastic wrap and sandwich bags with reusable containers or bees wax wraps.

Visual: Woman filling a metal bottle with water from kitchen faucet.

Fill your reusable water bottle with tap water!

Visual: Small white fabric bag and a bigger red, fabric bag on kitchen counter, pictured with beeswax wrap, reusable food container, metal cutlery, metal water bottle and meat in butcher paper.

Your choices matter – limit the amount of garbage that ends up in the landfill.

The environment will thank you.

Keeping Objects out of the Landfill

You have many options when looking to divert waste. Many materials can be reused, recycled or donated to charitable organizations.

Start by searching the Waste Explorer for a list of participating local retailers that accept items not picked up by the City. These include automotive parts and supplies, electronics, health-related products and supplies, and hazardous household products.

You can also give items away... Give Away Weekend has transitioned to give away all year long! This is a great opportunity to help others while keeping household goods out of the landfill.

There are also multiple websites dedicated to selling, buying, swapping and giving away used and/or unwanted goods (please note: These organizations do not accept hazardous household products). This includes (but is not limited to):

Please note, these groups are external to the City of Ottawa and you must abide by their terms and conditions.

Clothing may be accepted in a clothing donation box. To find a site near you, visit the National Association for Charitable Textile Recycling (NACTR) donation site locator. For more information, please visit the Clothing Donation Boxes page

Do you know of another resource dedicated to diverting waste? Please contact the Public Works outreach team with the information to have it added to the list above.

Finally, the best way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle when you can!

Christmas trees and pumpkins - Disposal and reuse options

Saying goodbye to your Christmas tree?

Please remove all decorations from your tree and place it at the curb with your green bin no later than 7 am on your scheduled collection day. Trees will not be collected if they are wrapped in plastic bags, frozen in snowbanks or have decorations. 

Once collected, Christmas trees are taken to the City’s contracted organics processing facility or to the Trail Road Waste facility. They are put through a composting process or are mulched and used to cover the garbage at the landfill.

Here are some wonderful reuse options that will keep the festive spirit alive:

  • Leave the evergreen in your backyard to help provide shelter for wildlife and improve your soil as it decomposes. 
  • Use trimmed branches as garden stakes and supports for vegetable vines, flowers and bushes.
  • Use branches or pieces of tree trunk to make rustic garden edging. 
  • Cut pieces bend and shape sticks to make tea candle bases, play dough stamps or hanging ornaments.

More tips on how to reduce food waste can be found on Ottawa.ca/wastereduction.  

Donate it!
  • Bring your tree to the National Capital Commission Christmas Tree drop off so that it can be used along the Rideau Canal Skateway. The drop off location is on Colonel By Drive, just west of the Bronson Avenue bridge.   
  • Reach out to the Vanderlaand Barnyard Zoo who accept Christmas trees for their animals to enjoy. 
  • Help create a windbreak at Kichi Sibi Winter Trail! Donated trees are accepted at Remic Rapids, 351 Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway from December through to February 28. 


Done with your festive pumpkin décor? Please remove any candles or decorations before placing your pumpkin in your green bin. You can also place the pumpkin on top or beside your green bin if it does not fit inside.

Here are some wonderful reuse and donation options for your pumpkins: 

  • Eat it! Pumpkin contains a long list of nutrients including vitamins A, B1, B6, and C, copper, fiber, folate, and manganese. Make… 
    • Pumpkin pie  
    • Pumpkin muffins  
    • Pumpkin puree (great for smoothies and pumpkin butter) 
    • Pumpkin soup  
    • Roasted/oven-baked pumpkin 
    • Roasted pumpkin seeds  
  • Repurpose it!  
    • Hollow out the pumpkin, fill it with birdseed and use it as a natural bird feeder. 
    • Put it in your garden and let it decompose naturally over winter. It’s a great fertilizer but please don’t put it in local forests. 
  • Donate it! Connect with your local community association or eco-group to see if they collect carved or intact pumpkins. Some community associations will donate carved pumpkins to farms and intact pumpkins to food centres.  
    • For example: Ottawa South Eco-Action Network in association with Riverside Park Community Association and Food Sharing Ottawa collects both intact and carved pumpkins in the River, Alta Vista and Gloucester-Southgate wards.
    • You can also bring your carved pumpkin to the Byron Path Pumpkin Parade (between Island Park Drive and Granville Avenue) on November 1. Pumpkins are lit up in the evening and donated to a local farm the next day. 
    • Bring your pumpkins to the Stittsville Pumpkin Parade on November 1st at 7pm (Stittsville Village Square Park) to not only have your carving job judged with a chance to win prizes, but also divert your pumpkin. In partnership with Eco West Enders, your pumpkin becomes live stock feed or compost for next year's crops.

Food Waste

Do you have surplus food that your household won’t be able to use up? Share it with your community by using Foodsharing Ottawa’s Share it - Don’t Toss it Facebook group. This platform is for Ottawa residents. It’s the perfect place to give away food that you don’t want to someone who will enjoy it!

For educational and fun tips on reducing food waste, check out Foodsharing Ottawa's Facebook page.

Foodsharing Ottawa also works with local businesses to rescue surplus food that risks being thrown away. They redistribute it within the community.

They are a registered non-profit organization run by volunteers. They are always looking for volunteers, local businesses and donors who share a passion for reducing food waste in our community. Please check out Foodsharing Ottawa's website for more information.

Please note: Foodsharing Ottawa is external to the City of Ottawa and you must abide by their terms and conditions.

Zero Waste Challenge

Take the first step towards a more sustainable life and challenge yourself and your family to bring down the amount of waste you’re creating. Reducing your ecological footprint is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is print out the pledge sheet and decide on a pledge for each day of the week. You can either come up with your own ideas or choose from the list below.

Today I pledge …

  • To only buy what I need and know I will use.
  • To bring my own bags and produce bags when I go grocery shopping.
  • To refuse any single-use plastic items or packaging.
  • To plan out this week’s meals in advance along with a specific shopping list.
  • To cook all my meals homemade.
  • To not create any avoidable food waste.
  • To make coffee or tea at home instead of buying it in a single-use cup.
  • To keep all empty cans and bottles to be returned to stores.
  • To mend or repurpose a piece of clothing I don’t wear.
  • To donate an unwanted item to thrift stores or charity.
  • To transition from paper to online subscriptions.
  • To make an effort and throw out all my organics and recyclables in the green, blue, and black bin.
  • To look up any item I am unsure about on the Waste Explorer.
  • To try and not use anything that ultimately has to go in the garbage.
  • To turn off the water when not using it for more than a couple seconds.
  • To encourage as many people as possible to participate in this challenge with me.

Household Waste Diary

A waste diary is an effective way to understand your own recycling and disposal habits. Participating in this simple activity will show you what and how much of which material you throw out during an average week.

Print out the waste diary table and record everything you put in each of your bins over a one-week period. Don’t forget to count what goes into the garbage cans in your bathroom, bedrooms, laundry room or at your desk. If the whole family gets involved, each member can fill in their own table.

At the end of the week, look at your complete table and reflect on your findings.

  • How much garbage did you create?
  • What waste categories do you produce the most of? The least of?
  • Did you put recyclable/compostable material in the garbage? Or vice versa?
  • Which items were commonly misplaced? Not sure? Check the Waste Explorer to find out where an item belongs.
  • Was there an item that did not go in any of the bins? What did you do with it?
  • Did you throw out any items that could have been reused, repurposed or donated?

Being mindful of ways to create less waste and taking full advantage of the City’s blue, black, and green bin programs is good for the environment. It helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and protects our natural resources. It also extends the life span of our Trail Road landfill site.

When in doubt about what to do with an item, consult the Waste Explorer.

Educational Resources

Educational material

Not sure about where an item goes? Search the Waste Explorer. "Which Bin to Put it In?" pamphlets are also available to view, download and print.

Apartment and multi-unit pamphlets are available in the following languages:

Curbside collection pamphlets are available in the following languages:

Green Bin Superhero Activity Book

Learn more about Ottawa's waste diversion programs through fun games and puzzles in our downloadable activity book!

Videos: What happens to my waste?

Learn more about what happens to your green bin, recycling and garbage and check out our What Happens to My Waste videos.

Interested in finding out more?

Invite the Public Works outreach team to give a presentation about Ottawa’s green bin and recycling programs to your school or community group. All presentations are subject to audience size and outreach team availability.

Upcoming Events

2024 Repair Cafe Series 

Repair Cafés aim to reduce landfill waste by fixing items, teaching new skills, and building community! Ottawa Tool Library’s fixers and menders will be sharing their knowledge and skills around fixing everything from darning socks to re-wiring kettles.

There will be free repairs of electronics, clothing, small appliances, jewelry and more! At the same time, learn new skills, enjoy coffee and snack and meet your neighbours! For more information, visit ottawatoollibrary.com/repair-cafes.

Saturday, June 22 - Sponsored by the City of Ottawa 
Ray Friel Recreation Complex - Fallingbrook room
1585 Tenth Line Road (link is external)
10 am to 2 pm

Saturday, August 10  
Zibi on Booth Street (Just north of the Canadian War Museum) 
10 am to 2 pm 

Saturday, October 5 - Sponsored by the City of Ottawa
Walter Baker Sports Centre - Halls A&B
100 Malvern Drive (link is external)
10 am to 2 pm  

Saturday, November 2 
Zibi on Booth Street (Just north of the Canadian War Museum) 
10 am to 2 pm 

Saturday, November 30 - Sponsored by the City of Ottawa 
Tony Graham Recreation Complex, Kanata - Hall A
100 Charlie Rogers Place (link is external)
10 am to 2 pm