More than 78 per cent of residents in Hamilton put out their blue boxes each week. The City’s recycling program is very successful, and contributes to the diversion of more than 94,500 tonnes of waste from the landfill each year.

Improving the diversion rate and the increasing the uptake of recycling programs is an important initiative at the City of Hamilton. To help residents better understand their recycling responsibilities, we’re sharing some of the most common mistakes and questions about recycling.

1.Papers in the container box; Containers in the paper box
In Hamilton, we have a “two stream” recycling program – one box for containers (bottles, cans, cartons and jars) and a second box for paper and cardboard. Cross-contamination is the biggest challenge we experience when disposing of recycling materials. Residents should avoid putting out bags filled with unsorted recycling, or bags filled with mixed recyclables.

2.Plastic film
Most plastic film is not recyclable. This includes black garbage bags, mattress covers or wraps, bubble wrap, Ziploc bags, cereal bags, and cheese wrappers. Plastic film also clings to and hides other recyclable materials, which makes sorting more difficult.

3.Paper products
Many residents put paper products in the blue bin when they actually belong in the green cart. Examples of paper that should go in the green cart are: paper towels, paper plates, greasy pizza boxes, paper take out containers. Hard cover books and hot beverage cups are not recyclable and belong in the garbage (unless the hard covers are removed – then they can go in the blue bin!)

4. Dirty recyclables
Residents should rinse out recyclables that once held food – a pickle jar, for example. The City is able to recycle the jar, but not the pickles. Cardboard boxes can be recycled in the paper recycling bin, but if they are greasy or have food scraps on them, they should go into the green cart.

5.Bulky unrecyclable items
Items such as metal and electronics should be properly recycled at one of the City’s three Community Recycling Centres. Bulky unrecyclable items clog up the sorting equipment. Common items we see: pots, pans, coat hangers, scrap metal, Christmas and outdoor lights, electronics, textiles and VHS tapes.

6.Home health waste
Home health products are not recyclable. IV tubing, diabetic supplies, syringes and sharps, and medications are not recyclable. The Ontario Health Product Stewardship Association has details on how to properly dispose of home health waste.

7.Special waste items
The City often receives special waste items that should be properly recycled at one of our Community Recycling Centres, and are not acceptable in the blue bin. This includes batteries, single use propane cylinders (e.g. small camping stove cylinders), compressed cylinders, metal paint cans (unless empty and dry), light bulbs, and ink cartridges.

Residents can download the City’s new mobile app at The app has information about waste collection, including an interactive waste collection calendar and sorting tools.

Additional Resources:
Community Recycling Centre locations
Waste and recycling at the City of Hamilton

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