Canada’s capital city, and the Ontario province’s second largest, Ottawa (pop. 883,391) diverts nearly 50% of all collected waste from the landfill. In fact, the city has astonishingly high recycling rates for certain materials — rates that nearly any U.S. city would be jealous of: In 2010, Ottawans recycled 92% of all cardboard, 90% of newspapers, 73% of aluminum cans and 70% of steel and tin cans. Still, much work is left to be done. The city would like to see those overall recycling numbers soar above 50%, and it has established partnerships with nearly 500 area retailers to reuse or sell recyclables in hopes of incentivizing recycling even further.

Materials recycled

Ottawa recyclingRecyclables must be placed in one of two color-coordinated boxes — blue or black. Boxes cannot weigh more than 15 kg (about 33 pounds) when placed curbside. Items accepted in each box are listed below. Organic waste, which is made into compost, is collected in a separate green bin (more information below). Blue box
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal cans
  • Soft drink cans
  • Aluminum containers
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paint cans (lids removed)
  • Aerosol cans (empty)
  • Spiral-wound canisters with metal ends (e.g., Pringles cans)
  • Plastic bottles, jars and jugs
  • Plastic tubs and lids
  • All food and household plastic containers (#1 through #7)
  • Plastic pails (no metal handles)
  • Plastic planting trays
  • Plastic flower pots
  • Single-serve yogurt containers
  • Clear plastic egg cartons
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • TetraPak cartons
  • Drink, soup and milk boxes
Black box
  • Newspapers and fliers
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Telephone books
  • Cereal and cracker boxes (no liners)
  • Shoe and laundry detergent boxes
  • Writing and computer paper, paper pads, advertising mailers
  • Hard- and soft-cover books
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • Wrapping paper and greeting cards
  • Clean paper shopping bags or paper packaging
  • Frozen dinner boxes


Curbside pick-up occurs on a weekly basis, day of the week depending on location (an address lookup is available online.) Bins must be placed curbside by 7 a.m. on the day of pick-up, but not before 6 p.m. the day prior.

Other programs

Green bins, used for organic waste composting, are collected on a weekly basis as well. An astounding number of items are accepted in these bins, including food scraps, yard waste and other household items:
  • Baking ingredients, herbs and spices
  • Bread, cereals, crackers and grains
  • Candy and gum
  • Chips, popcorn and nuts
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Cookies, cakes, muffins and pastries
  • Dairy products (cheese, sour cream)
  • Dough
  • Eggs and egg shells
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Jams, jellies, marmalades or chutney
  • Leftover cooking oils, lard, shortening, fat, butter and margarine
  • Meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, bones and scraps
  • Nuts and shells
  • Pasta, beans, rice and couscous
  • Peanut butter
  • Pet food
  • Pits (all types)
  • Salad dressing, mayonnaise, vinegar, sauces, marinades, dips and gravy
  • Seeds
  • Tea and tea bags
  • Branches, twigs and hedge trimmings
  • Leaves
  • Plants and weeds
  • Grass clippings
  • Animal bedding (e.g., bird and hamster cages)
  • Barbeque ashes
  • Butcher’s meat wrap
  • Cold fireplace ash
  • Cotton balls
  • Dryer lint
  • Floor sweepings, vacuum bags and vacuum contents
  • Food-soiled paper towels, napkins and tissues
  • Food-soiled pizza boxes (pizza boxes should not go in black bin)
  • Household plants, including soil
  • Kitty litter
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Paper coffee cups, plates and muffin wrappers
  • Pet fur, hair and feathers
  • Soiled paper, boxboard and cardboard
  • Sugar, flour and potato paper bags
  • Waxed paper, cardboard and cold drink cups
  • Wooden popsicle sticks and toothpicks
  • Wood chips, sawdust and untreated wood scraps (less than 4 inches in any dimension)
Large loads of residential leaf and yard waste can be dropped off at the Trail Waste Facility at 4475 Trail Rd. (open Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) free of charge. Homes in rural areas and farms receive yard waste pickup twice in the spring and twice in the fall.

More information

Visit the City of Ottawa Recycling website for more recycling program info.