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Using your blue cart

When you use your Blue Cart or a community recycling depot, you help keep valuable recyclable materials out of City landfills.

Find tips for preparing your recyclables the right way so we can make sure they are recycled properly and safely at our recycling sorting facility.

Not sure where to put an item? Visit What Goes Where.

Put recyclables in your blue cart the right way

Bundle your stretchy bags and wrap

Bag all your stretchy plastic bags into a single bag and securely tie closed.

This includes the following:

  • Grocery bags
  • Produce bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Bread bags
Blue Cart Bundle Stretchy Plastic in a Bag

Bag your shredded paper

Shredded paper is one of the few items sorted by hand at the recycling facility.

By bagging your shredded paper in a see-through bag, staff can easily identify it as shredded paper and separate from the other recyclables.

Bag Shredded Paper in a Plastic Bag

Keep the rest of your recyclables loose

Put the rest of your recycling loose into your blue cart.

Make sure your recyclables are not packed in too tightly or they will not fall out of the cart during pickup.

Keep Recyclables Loose in Blue Cart

Why can't I bag recyclables?

Don't put recyclables in black garbage or blue recycling bags.

The recycling facility isn't set up to unbag recyclables and they need to be loose to be sorted by the machines.

For the safety of workers, garbage bags are marked as garbage and are not opened.

No Bagged Recycleables

Clean and prepare your recyclables

Empty your recyclables:

Recyclables need to be empty, clean, and dry so they can be sorted properly at the recycling facility, prevent other recyclables from getting wet and dirty as well as to ensure that manufacturers are able to use the material to turn them into new products.

  • Pour out excess liquids
  • Scrape out food bits to compost
  • Separate caps and lids from all containers

Peanut butter jars: Some containers might be a little harder to empty like peanut butter jars. Use a spatula to scrape out the remaining food. Store near-empty containers upside down to get the last amounts out to use.

Empty Out Your Recyclables


Clean your recyclables

  • Rinse out all food containers
  • Remove bits of food, sauce and other residue.
  • Labels can be left on the containers

Reduce water use:

For most recyclables a little bit of water will clean out most containers.

  • Add a few centimeters of water to a container, cover with your hand or the lid, shake and drain to clean.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, use the dirty dishwater to clean off food residue from your containers. Add dishwater to the container, shake and drain out.
  • Use gray water to clean recyclables (e.g. plug the sink while you rinse off fruits and veggies, then use this water to clean out recyclables.)
  • Use cold water to save energy

Cleaning tips:

  • Take a used paper towel or napkin and wipe out any food residue from container, then compost the food-soiled towel/napkin.
  • Add containers to any empty spaces in your dishwasher
  • For containers with small openings, use a bottle brush or straw cleaner to scrape out the last bits
  • Sticky cleaning liquids and gels:
    • Add water when container feels empty. Shake and use the diluted solution e.g. soap, shampoo etc. until it runs out.
    • Shampoo, conditioner and lotion: Remove lid and leave bottle below showerhead for a few days – as you shower, the water will naturally drain out the last bits of product.
    • Liquid detergent: Remove lid and include the container into a load of laundry to clean both your clothes and the container out.
Clean Your Recyclables


Dry your recyclables

  • After emptying and cleaning recyclables, air dry in a dish rack before putting in the blue bin.
  • Put all recyclables inside the blue cart to keep dry
  • Keep lid closed and clear snow off your blue cart lid

If you have extra recyclables that won't fit inside your cart:

  • Flatten boxes to create extra room in your cart
  • Hang on to your extra recyclables for next week's collection
  • Bring extra recyclables to a community recycling depot
Dry Your Recyclables

Why can't I put recyclables next to the cart?

Your blue cart protects recyclables from the rain, snow and wind. Your cart also helps keep our communities litter-free. In the winter months, clear snow off of your blue cart lid to keep recyclables dry. Learn how the recycling facility works.