The Dos and Don'ts of Compost Bins

Household garbage disposable is changing city-wide and composting is the new initiative being introduced to cut down on excessive waste going into our landfills. We have put together some helpful tips to avoid any confusion so that you can navigate these new changes successfully.

  • What are the new Green Bins?

    Cities across Canada have been rolling out composting programs in the form of Green Bins or city-provided compost bins which get emptied by the city.  Many households are now expected to sort their waste into three different categories: garbage (black cart), recycling and composting (green cart). If you are new to this system, it can be confusing and overwhelming to know which items go where and how to navigate the new composting requirements.  Read on for a helpful list of compostable items and the dos and don’ts of using your compost bin.   

  • What is the purpose of composting?

    Composting programs cut down on the amount of waste that goes into a landfill. This in turn cuts down on costs associated with burning or storing garbage.  When organic waste (compost) goes into a landfill, it does not properly decompose and breaks down and it releases a greenhouse gas called methane.  Also, compost can be used as a safe fertilizer for plants, trees and grass!  Composting gives back to the environment! 

  • Items you can add to your compost bin:
    • Fruit and vegetable peels and scraps 
    • Spoiled fruits and vegetables 
    • Egg shells 
    • Coffee grounds and filters 
    • Tea bags 
    • Food soiled napkins 
    • Paper towels 
    • Leaves and grass 
    • Garden trimmings 
    • Dead plants 
    • Pine cones 
    • Fallen tree fruit 
    • Bark, branches, twigs 
    • All of these items can also be placed in a home compost bin if you want to start your own compost program at home! 
  • Items allowed in SOME compost bins:
    Check with your municipality before adding to your bin. 
    • Dairy 
    • Plate scraps 
    • Meat, fish and bones 
    • Pet waste  
    • Pet hair 

    These items would generally NOT be placed in a home compost bin because they require more heat and time to break down and they attract unwanted pests to your yard.   

Do Don't
  • Do use a kitchen bin to collect food and household scraps easily.  These are often provided with the city green bin.  
  • Line your kitchen bin with newspaper to help prevent odours.  
  • Do wash your kitchen bin regularly, every time you empty it just like you do your other dishes.  
  • Do keep your kitchen bin in the fridge or freezer to help reduce odors. 
  • Do empty your kitchen bin as often as possible.  
  • Do keep a handy list in your kitchen of what can and cannot go into the compost so that everyone in your house knows how to properly sort their compost from waste.   
  • Do keep green bin in a shady, ventilated spot to reduce odor and pests. Keep bins away from fence or deck railings so animals don’t have easy access.   
  • Do line your green bin with grass clippings, cardboard or newspaper and layer in with food scraps to help with odors that attract pests.  
  • Do wash your green bins often by spraying with your garden hose. 
  • Don’t take the easy way out and throw everything in the black cart!  Garbage removal is often limited to the bin provided and the benefits of city-wide composting programs are only achieved when everyone participates! 
  • Don’t put any inorganic waste into your compost bin. Be sure  to check for things like stickers, elastics and labels. These are small items but they don’t break down the same way organic matter does and can slow the composting process.  
  • Don’t line your bin with garbage bags.  Some municipalities accept compostable bags in their bins but check to make sure these are acceptable.  Keep in mind that compostable bags break down and have a much shorter shelf life than regular garbage bags. 
  • Don’t fill your compost bin solidly with food scraps.  Layer grass clippings and other garden waste into your bin to help cover up odours and prevent pests.   
  • Don’t leave your green bin open. This gives easy access to pests and critters and will give off a strong odour!   
  • Don’t forget to move your compost bin to your alley or front walk for waste collection day.  Compost will be collected on a regular schedule just like your garbage and recycling. If you forget to put your bin in place for collection, you will have to wait another week or two for pick up.   

Stop Food Waste

If the amount of food waste in your home is a concern, don’t worry. We put together our top tips on how to maximize using the food you have, to make sure it doesn’t spoil or get thrown away.