The Goods

You've reduced and re-used, now here's how to properly recycle

Sorting tips to help ensure your waste ends up in the right place.

Sorting tips to help ensure your waste ends up in the right place.

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

As a country, Canada is known for wide open spaces and gorgeous vistas, but the nation has a dirty secret. Each year, this country produces millions of tons of garbage that end up in landfills! According to the Global Footprint Network, "it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year." In fact, data from Stats Canada shows that the total amount of waste diverted from landfill to recycling or organic processing facilities is increasing, but unfortunately, garbage production remains relatively consistent over time. This means that an increase in recycling and organic disposal is not translating to less garbage, and that's probably partially because no one knows what bin to put anything in! But wonder no more, because the hosts of The Goods cleaned out their garbage bins to help you figure out what goes where.

Glass bottles with metal lids

The glass goes in the blue recycling bin, but most recycling plants are not able to recycle the metal lids. If the lid is on the bottle, they won't recycle it because it could cause damage to the recycling facility's machinery. Simply throw the lid in the garbage and you're good to go.

Dog poo and kitty litter in a compostable bag

Technically you can compost dog and cat waste in some municipalities across the country, but many are not equipped to handle it, so you should consider flushing it without the bag. The David Suzuki Foundation suggests flushing it as well. After all, a sewage treatment plant is definitely equipped to handle this, as it does with human waste.

Dead houseplant in a black plastic pot

Plastic pollution is an increasingly prominent environmental problem. Cutting back on plastic is an efficient way to do your part, but it can be hard to know what to do with the stuff that we end up with — especially when it seems as though it should belong in our blue bins. Recycling is sorted by electronic scanners and black pigments cannot be seen or detected by the machines, so unfortunately, black plastic can't be recycled. Always check with your local guidelines, but in general, black plastic — including black plastic plant pots — needs to go straight into the garbage. You can, however, throw the soil and the houseplant into the green bin or yard waste bag.

Cooking grease

Fats oils and grease in smaller household quantities should always be disposed of in the green bin. NEVER pour it down the sink or dump it in the toilet! The grease will solidify and clog your pipes.


Sadly, straws have to go in the garbage, but it's best to skip them altogether. In fact, Jennifer Provencher, a postdoctoral researcher at Acadia University told CBC News that, "single-use plastic items like straws and stir sticks are generally used only for a few minutes before they're discarded, but can persist in the environment for centuries because plastics don't typically decompose within a human lifetime." The good news is that straws are usually unnecessary, so the next time your beverage comes with one, tell the server to skip the straw so you can help save the planet one sip at a time.

Coffee cups and other waxy cardboard

Wax-covered cardboard containers, often used for coffee or soup, cannot be recycled in most of the country. Try using glass containers or reusable coffee mugs and thermoses instead — they're much sturdier and can be used over and over, which helps to divert large quantities of waste every single day. 

Get local

Not only do Canadian send tons of unnecessary items to the trash every year, but their improper sorting is contaminating recycling programs, and actually costing municipalities money. It's entirely possible to do better! Find out more about your city's recycling guidelines below and get familiar with any recycling quirks or requirements that are unique to your area. And if you town isn't listed below, try searching online or stopping at your town hall to get more information about the recycling requirements and initiatives that might be geared toward the needs of your municipality.

Recycling guidelines:

St John's, NL

Prince Edward Island

Halifax, NS

Fredericton, NB

Moncton, NB

Saint John, NB

Quebec City, QC

Montreal, QC

Ottawa, ON

Kingston, ON

Toronto, ON

London, ON

Windsor, ON

Waterloo, ON

Sudbury, ON

Thunder Bay, ON

Winnipeg, MB

Churchill, MB

Saskatoon, SK

Regina, SK

Calgary, AB

Edmonton, AB

Vancouver, BC

Victoria, BC

Whitehorse, YT

Yellowknife, NT

Iqaluit, NU