How to Recycle Like a Pro in the Niagara Region 

Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

Did you know that Canada’s first blue box recycling system was tested in 1981 in Kitchener, Ontario? This program was so successful that the program was implemented citywide and now the blue bin recycling system is all over Canada and the world (with variation). Many of us grew up with recycling and rarely question whether to do it or not because it has become such a habit ingrained in our daily lives. For others, it may seem like a chore to even try to begin to understand how to recycle and what to recycle properly. Even some people who have been recycling for years can remain confused or doubtful about what can and cannot be recycled. This may be because unlike composting (which is also very important), there are two different recycling boxes to choose from depending on the material of your items. This article will give you a clear guide on how to recycle like a pro in the Niagara Region!  

Before we get started, it’s always a good idea to remember the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reducing your consumption of products with unnecessary packaging and reusing containers whenever possible should be a priority whenever possible. If you can focus on reducing and reusing before recycling, you will have a lot less waste to manage which makes learning how to recycle properly even easier!  

The first thing you need to know is that the Niagara region has two types of recycling boxes – grey and blue. They are both collected weekly and there is no limit to the amount of recycling bags or items that are placed at your curb. Residents are allowed to use any rigid and reusable containers for their curbside collection as long as it fits within the Region’s size limitations. Alternatively, you can purchase blue and grey boxes in your municipality for $6 at these locations near you.  

Before we get into the list of acceptable items in each recycling box, it’s important to know the first general rule of recycling: rinse and clean your items before throwing them away! For example, have a bit of milk left in your milk bag or hummus left in its plastic container? Rinse it and let it air dry before you recycle it so it doesn’t contaminate the rest of your recyclables. 

Accepted in the Grey Box: 

  • Carboard (flattened) 
  • Pizza boxes (remove food residue, oily patches and place in green bin first) 
  • Catalogues 
  • Coffee cup sleeves 
  • Plastic grocery bags (all bags must be placed into one bag and tied up to ease recycling efforts) 
  • Milk bags (rinsed) 
  • Hard cover books 
  • Magazines 
  • Paper towels (can also be placed in green bin) 
  • Plastic wrap  
  • Receipts from the store 
  • And much more, which you can find on the Niagara Region’s Waste Disposal website here 

Accepted in the Blue Box: 

  • Aerosol cans that are empty (make sure to remove the lid) 
  • Coffee cup lids from disposable cups (the cup should be placed in the garbage) 
  • Styrofoam coffee cups 
  • Aluminum tins 
  • Empty detergent jugs 
  • Hard plastics (e.g. the ones used to make cups or plates) 
  • Egg cartons 
  • Food and beverage cartons 
  • Plastic fruit cup containers 
  • Glass bottles and jars 
  • Ice cream tubs and lids 
  • Juice boxes 
  • Plastic bottles 
  • Steel cans 
  • Shampoo and conditioner bottles 
  • And much more, which you can find on the Niagara Region’s Waste Disposal website here

Not Recyclable – Place in Garbage: 

Some items seem recyclable, but because they may be difficult to identify during the recycling process, they are not. For example: 

  • Loose plastic water bottle caps (too small) 
  • Items that cannot be cleaned of food and liquid residue 
  • Hand lotion “squeeze tubes” (only the plastic containers for hand lotion can go in the blue box) 
  • Plastic seal from ice cream tubs 
  • Outer plastic packaging of a cookie box  
  • Water bottle filters 

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about what can and cannot be recycled in the Niagara Region as well as which bin recycles must be disposed in. Thankfully, the Region’s website is extremely helpful and even allows you to type in the name of an item to find out how to dispose of it. Click here to learn more about recycling and the waste disposal services offered to you from large item collections to hazardous waste disposal. Make sure to recycle responsibly to make sure that your items are in a condition that ease the recycling process and happy recycling!  

Categories: Recycling, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock