Winter Waste & Recycling Tips for Northern Bruce

Submitted by Jacqui Wakefield

Here we are – after a spell of warmer than normal temperatures, the forecasts predict a return to the more typical winter cold, snow and winds! Indeed, the high winds are already here.

Not only will we face challenging driving conditions, we also face challenges for collection of waste and recycling. To help make collection easy and efficient (and safe) for all, residents are encouraged to follow the suggestions below when placing items at the curb. Waste Management Canada has provided some guidance, and our local residents have added ideas based on their experiences.

Watch for ice & freezing. Be very careful taking your blue box and waste bags to the curb. Go slow. When the recycling bins freeze to the ground, picking them up may cause damage or injury. Try to minimize this by keeping your bins in a cold space and ensuring that recyclables are dry.

A good alternative to minimize smells is to use a garbage can with a lid.

Out by 8 AM. Please have all items out by this time to avoid being missed, but do NOT put them out the night before — especially if a large snowfall, wind, or ice event is expected during the night. Collection crews start curbside collection every Monday at 8 a.m. and do their best to complete collection each day. Because crews have many roads throughout the municipality to cover, they cannot return for missed collections due to late setouts.

Be sure your bins are visible, accessible and at ground level. Place items at the end of your driveway or shovel a shelf. Clear away snow and ice that may accumulate. Do not put your blue boxes or waste bins/bags on top of a snowbank. Collection crews are not permitted to climb snowbanks to retrieve blue boxes or waste bags. This is a health and safety issue. 

Keep it visible. When end-of-driveway snowbanks pile up, keep your blue boxes and garbage bags/bins to the right of your driveway (as you look out to the road) if possible, so the drivers can see them as they approach.

Keep it contained. There are several things you can do to help prevent materials, such as paper, from blowing out of your blue box and littering the streets and roads on windy days:

· Place heavier items on top of the lighter items. Put paper at the bottom, cardboard next, and glass bottles and jars on top. (see photo right)

· Remember to NOT put plastic bags, Styrofoam, or take-out coffee cups in the blue box – please! These items are not recyclable in our program and are often seen blowing around or littering our countryside.

· Keep items below the rim of the blue box. There is less chance of items blowing out if the box is not overflowing.

If there’s a snowstorm, check the NBP website. During snow events, collection may be delayed or cancelled due to road and weather conditions. There are also times when routes are changed or trucks are added, resulting in earlier or later collection times. If you have questions about collection on bad days, check the MNBP website at

Or wait if you can. Consider not setting out your waste and recycling during major snow or wind events. Wait until the following Monday’s collection (there is no limit for the amount of blue box material put out for weekly collection). If you have limited space, take materials to a landfill site.

Discourage critters. At this time of the year, crows and gulls (and other critters) in search of food can pose a problem for garbage collection. Crows and gulls are naturally curious birds that are quite inventive when it comes to accessing trash cans and bags. The birds rip open the bags looking for food scraps and spread the trash out over the ground in their search. Not only does this look extremely messy, household garbage scattered all over the place also attracts rodents. To keep critters out of trash bags, use measures to discourage them:

· First, don’t put garbage out until the day of pick-up.

· Second, be sure the trash bags are properly sealed to help minimize “attractive smells”. You can tie a knot in the bag itself or use twist ties. If you have a garbage can with a lid, this is a good alternative. (see photo right)

· Third, when you place bags at the roadside, consider covering the bag with a heavy blanket, mat or piece of canvas. (see photo far right)

Replace as needed. When plastic gets very cold, it tends to break much easier. If you have a cracked or broken blue box, please replace. 

Cover garbage with a heavy blanket to deter birds.


• If you are concerned about high winds blowing your recycling out of your blue box, consider waiting until your next collection if possible.

• Blue Boxes themselves can blow away easily when empty in high winds, so if your blue box goes missing on a windy day, look around your neighbourhood. Write your address on your blue box and garbage can in permanent marker. This makes it easier to identify them.