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Tips for getting the most from your green bin3 min read

Sep 8, 2023 2 min

Tips for getting the most from your green bin3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Waterloo Region’s green bin program collects mostly food waste. But did you know certain other organic materials are accepted too? Items like soiled paper towels, napkins and pet waste will break down quickly and so they meet our strict composting guidelines.

However not all compostable or biodegradable items are accepted in the program. Many companies now offer compostable and biodegradable products and packaging (like compostable coffee pods). You might see these with takeout food orders, for example.

Unfortunately, these items do not break down at the same rate or temperature as food waste or paper towels. Sometimes this type of packaging contains plastic as well as organic material.  These items need extra sorting and re-composting stages, adding both time and cost to our program. The companies processing Waterloo Region’s organic waste can’t accept this type of packaging. That means these items are garbage.

DO put in the green bin:

  • Food waste, nuts, shells and bones
  • Soiled paper bags and pizza boxes
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Pet waste (bagged)

Do NOT put in the green bin:

  • Plastic containers labelled as “biodegradable”
  • Plastic bags labelled as “biodegradable” or “environmentally friendly”
  • Coffee pods, cups, cutlery or packaging labelled as “compostable”

Remember, you can always use the Region of Waterloo’s free Waste Whiz app to look up which items should go in your green bin, blue box or garbage can.

Also keep in mind, more and more companies will take back their packaging for recycling. Check out their websites for information regarding any take-back program.

But what about a bag liner?

There are two types of liner bags accepted by the Region of Waterloo’s program:

  • Paper liner bags: these are made specifically for the green bin and are available at local grocery and hardware stores. These bags do not need certification logos. Some have a shiny cellulose lining to give them more wet strength; these are safe to use in our program. You can also use any other type of paper bag as a liner, such as paper take-out bags or sugar bags. Or even make your own bag using newspaper. 
  • Certified compostable liner bags: these are made from plant-based material and are tested to ensure that they compost fully. Certified compostable bags are the only type of compostable product allowed in the Region of Waterloo’s Green Bin program. Certified compostable bags are identified by one or both of these specific logos:
Icons for compostable bags.

Beware! There are other bags that look like certified compostable bags but are not acceptable. Generally, if the label says “biodegradable,” “oxo degradable” or “degradable,” they are not certified, do not fully compost, and are not accepted in our program. 

Our green bin program is over 10 years old and Waterloo Region residents have done a great job participating! Thank you to everyone who uses the green bin.

Find out what happens to your food waste after it is picked up from the curb in this video: