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Recycling cart collection

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We collect your garbage and recycling using automated and semi-automated collection services. Find out how the collection works, and its benefits.

1. How does automated collection work?

From inside the vehicle, the driver activates a mechanical arm on the garbage or recycling truck to pick up, empty and return the cart to its location.

2. How does semi-automated collection work?

The collectors will get out of the truck, wheel the cart to the back of the truck and hook it onto a lift. They will then activate the lift to empty the cart. The collector will return the cart to its original location.

3. What are the benefits of automated and semi-automated recycling cart collection?
  • Cost savings in the long term because automated collection and semi-automated collection are more efficient than manual collection.
  • Fewer litter, odour and pest problems because the carts have lids.
  • Provides a safer work environment for collectors. They will not suffer from the typical injuries that go with repeatedly lifting heavy objects into a truck (e.g., leg, back and shoulder injuries). Nor will they risk injury from sharp objects in garbage bags (e.g., hypodermic needles, broken glass, nails).
4. Why do you use automated collection in some areas and semi-automated in other areas?

Semi-automated vehicles are generally used in areas with back lanes. The trucks are smaller and both sides of the lane can be collected at the same time. However, the collectors may use any vehicle in any area, so be sure to leave enough space around your carts for the automated arm.

5. Do I have to sort my recyclables?

No. Don't sort them. Don't tie them. Just empty them and toss them in loose.

And NO plastic bags!

6. Can I place recyclables beside the cart if I don’t have enough room inside?

No. Only recycling inside the cart will be collected. You must save any recycling that doesn't fit in your cart until the next collection day or you could take it to a recycling depot. These depots are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

7. What size is the recycling cart?

Single-family properties receive one 240-litre recycling cart per dwelling unit. Properties with 4-7 dwelling units may receive fewer, but larger carts to save space. You can upgrade to a larger or an additional recycling cart for a one-time rental fee.

When is your collection day? Find out and print your collection calendar.

Find out what we accept in our recycling program.

1. What items can I put in my recycling cart?

Plastic, metal and glass containers

  • all food and beverage containers (e.g., jars, cans, bottles, cartons)
  • plastic containers (e.g., bottles, pails, tubs, jugs)
  • rigid plastic packaging

* Leave all lids on containers and bottles

Paper and cardboard

  • newspapers, flyers, mail, magazines, paper
  • all cardboard boxes and cartons (e.g., pizza, cereal, laundry)
  • shredded paper can be placed in a clear plastic bag (this is the only exception to the “no plastic bags” rule)
  • cardboard egg cartons and paper tubes
2. What items can’t I put in my recycling cart?
  • gift wrap
  • plastic bags, cellophane
  • plastics that are not a container (e.g., laundry baskets, toys, plastic cutlery)
  • disposable coffee cups
  • aluminum foil, foil pie plates, foil food containers
  • foam cups, foam food containers, foam egg cartons, foam meat trays
  • foam packing materials
  • mirrors, window glass, broken glass
  • light bulbs, drinking glasses, ceramics, cookware
  • steel pots and pans, scrap metal

For information on what to do with these items contact 311 or visit our web page for garbage that needs special handling.

3. What can I do with my plastic bags?
  • Reuse plastic bags when shopping.
  • Recycle your plastic shopping bags by taking them to a store with a collection program. Make sure they are empty and free of paper and debris.
  • Drop off clean plastic bags for reuse at:
    • Winnipeg Humane Society, 45 Hurst Way
    • Winnipeg Harvest, 1085 Winnipeg Avenue

4. How should I put out my shredded or loose paper for recycling?

To help reduce litter, you can:

  • Pack the paper tightly in your recycling cart to prevent it from blowing away
  • Put lighter paper between heavier items, newspapers or cardboard
  • Put heavier items on top
  • Put your shredded paper in full size (77-litre) clear, tied, plastic bags. This is the only exception to our "no bags" policy. We will empty the bags and then take them to the landfill site, as we cannot recycle plastic bags.
5. Why can't I use smaller clear plastic bags for my shredded paper?

While most of the recycling is done automatically by machine, we have to empty the shredded paper from plastic bags by hand. Bags smaller than 77 litres might be covered by other recyclables and missed by the sorting staff. The bags would then be sent to the landfill site, and the shredded paper would not be recycled.

6. Can I stack recyclables together or stuff them inside paper bags to save room in my cart?

No. Please don’t stack or stuff your recyclables. Just toss them loosely into your cart. Our automated sorting machines cannot remove recyclables from paper bags or other items. Recyclables that are stuffed or stacked inside of each other would be sent to the landfill.

7. Can I recycle books?

Yes. However, book covers and glues used in book bindings lower the quality of the recycled paper fibre used to create recycled paper. This reduces the value of the paper we sell to the paper recyclers.

If the book has a hard cover, remove it and put it in the garbage before recycling the rest of the book.

Consider donating your books to used bookstores, libraries, hospitals or charities. Contact them first to find out what books they will accept.

8. Why can't I recycle foil products, such as aluminum foil, foil pie plates or foil takeout food containers?

Unlike aluminum drink cans, these products are not pure aluminum. They are blended with other materials and lower the quality and value of our recycled material.

9. Why can't I recycle foam products, such as foam egg cartons, foam packaging or foam takeout food containers?

There are no local recyclers for this product.

10. Can I recycle wrapping paper and tissue paper?

No. The paper is often blended with other materials, such as wax and metal, that can't be recycled.

11. Can I recycle dry pet food bags?

No. Much like wrapping paper, these containers are often made of blended materials.

12. Can I recycle frozen juice containers?

No. Much like wrapping paper, these containers are often made of blended materials.

13. Can I recycle construction or art paper?

Yes, as long as it does not have crayon wax or glue on it.

14. Can I recycle phone books?

You can recycle your old phone books by placing them in your recycling cart. Apartment residents should put their phone books in their recycling bins. Residents can also put their phone books in the "paper" bin at any of the recycling depots in the city. The depots are open 24 hours, 365 days per year.

15. How should I put my cardboard out for collection?

Cardboard should be crushed flat and put inside your recycling cart. Cardboard should be cut down to a size that allows it to fall freely into the truck when the cart is emptied. It should not be tied.

Cardboard cannot be left outside your cart, because anything left outside of your recycling cart will not be collected.

16. What if I break a glass container when I put it in my recycling cart?

Please remove it. We cannot accept broken glass. It is dangerous to the staff.

17. What can I do with my old blue boxes?
  • You can use your blue boxes for your new yard waste collection service.
  • Blue boxes, in good condition only, can be dropped of at
    Winnipeg Harvest
    1085 Winnipeg Avenue
    Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
    Saturday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Blue boxes in poor condition can be

We charge a daily waste diversion fee of 15.07 cents per day. Learn more about the fee here.

1. What is the waste diversion fee?

The waste division fee is:

  • $55.00 per year or 15.07 cents per day,
  • billed as a daily charge for each dwelling unit serviced,
  • added to quarterly utility bills if you have a water account with us,
  • billed quarterly if you do not have City water and sewer service.

Understanding your bill

2. What does the daily waste diversion fee pay for?

The daily waste diversion fee was introduced to fund new programs that provide residents with more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle (e.g., curbside yard waste collection, a curbside kitchen organic collection trial, 4R Winnipeg Depots).

3. Can residential property owners opt out of the daily waste diversion fee?


4. What is the daily waste diversion fee based on?

The daily waste diversion fee is per residential dwelling unit, according to The City’s Assessment and Taxation records.

5. I am a renter in a single-family dwelling/house. Does this charge affect me?

If the utility bill is in your name, you will be responsible for the daily waste diversion fee.

6. I am a property owner with renters. What does this mean for me?

You are responsible for:

  • ensuring the carts are available for your tenants, and
  • the daily waste diversion fee if the utility bill is in your name.
7. Can a property owner assessed with 2 - 7 dwelling units reduce their waste diversion fees and their level of service?

Yes. The property owner can reduce the number of carts and the service to empty the carts.

8. Who should I contact if I have questions?
  • For questions about charges on your utility bill, contact the Utility Billing Centre, by phone at 204-986-2455 or by email at
  • For questions or requests for service (e.g., large item pickup), contact 311.

On collection day, you must place your carts a certain way to ensure they are collected by the automated collection trucks.

1. How should I place my carts on collection day?
  • Place them - Place the carts on or next to the street or lane with the wheels against the curb or edge of the road.
  • Point them - Point the arrow on the cart lid to the centre of the road or lane.
  • Space them - Allow one arm’s length clearance (one metre or 39 inches) on all sides of each cart to allow enough room for the collection arm on the automated truck to grab your cart. Make sure they are not under any low-hanging objects (e.g., trees, eavestroughs, basketball net).
  • Return them - Take your carts back onto your property as soon as possible after collection.
2. Do I place my carts at my back lane or at my front street?

If there is a back lane behind or beside your property, put your carts in the back lane.
If there is no back lane behind or beside your property, put your carts at the front street.

3. Do I have to place my carts out every collection day?

No. You can place your carts out on any of your collection days.

4. How do I place my carts in winter?
  • Make sure the area around and under your carts is clear of snow.
  • Do not place the carts behind or on top of a snowbank.
  • Clear the snow and ice off the cart lids so that they open easily when the carts are emptied.
  • Keep the lids closed at all times to keep the snow out of your carts.

For more info on snow removal, please read this winter FAQ.

5. What if I am not able to get my carts to the curb or lane?

If you are unable to move the carts and have no one living in the home that is able to do so, you can apply for our walk-up service.

6. What do I do if I have difficulty placing my carts on collection day (e.g., due to trees, vehicles, telephone poles)?
  • Allow one arm’s length clearance (one metre or 39 inches) on all sides of each cart to allow enough room for the collection arm on the automated truck to grab your cart.
  • Place the carts so they are not under any low-hanging objects (e.g., trees, eavestroughs, basketball net).
  • If you still have difficulties placing your carts, contact 311.

If you’re moving into a newly constructed home, into an existing home, or out of your current home, you should know this about your garbage and recycling carts.

1. How do I get garbage and recycling carts if I move to a newly constructed home?

If you are buying a new home, we will deliver a 240-litre garbage cart and a 240-litre recycling cart once you set up an account with us:

2. What do I do with the garbage and recycling carts if I move?
  • Store the carts in a safe place for the next resident to use.
  • If you have upgraded your service (i.e., larger size carts, additional carts) and you would like to bring your carts with you to a new Winnipeg address, please call 311 at least two weeks prior to your move.
3. How do I get a set of carts if I move to an existing home?

A set of carts would have been assigned to that address, so we recommend that you account for the condition of the carts at the time of the sale. If the carts are missing or need to be repaired, you will be responsible for the replacement of the carts. Please contact 311.

You can take these precautions to keep your cart safe and secure. You can also find out what to do if your cart is damaged or missing.

1. What can I do to prevent my carts from going missing or being damaged?

To reduce the chances of your carts being damaged or going missing:

  • move them back onto your property as soon as possible after collection
  • do not leave them at the back lane or front street
  • write your address on your carts
2. What happens if my garbage cart is lost, stolen or damaged?
  • You are responsible for the cost of replacing or repairing your cart unless:
    • we damage it during collection, or
    • it is damaged by a third party, as long as:
      • the cart was stored in a safe place on your property and not left at the back lane/front street between collection days,
      • the cart can no longer hold material when stored or when collected, and
      • you return the damaged cart to the City.
  • You must contact 311 to buy replacement carts and parts (e.g., lids, wheels).
  • We will deliver the carts and parts for a $25.00 fee or you can pick up the carts and parts at no additional cost.
  • If you choose to pick up the carts and parts, we will contact you when they are ready

See fee schedule for costs of repair or replacement.

3. How do you know which cart belongs to each address?

Every cart has a serial number and is electronically tagged, so carts can be traced to each address. There is also a spot on the cart to write your address.

4. Can I purchase and use a cart from a home improvement store?

No. The collection trucks will not empty carts sold by home improvement stores.

5. Can I chain my carts to my fence in between collection days so they don’t go missing?

Yes, but they must be unlocked and moved to your collection point before 7:00 am on collection day.

You can get a larger or an additional recycling cart for a one-time rental fee.

1. Can I get a larger size recycling cart or an additional recycling cart?

Yes. You can upgrade your recycling collection service for a one-time rental fee:

Recycling cart upgrade One-time
rental fee
Option 1 – switch the 240-litre cart for a 360-litre cart $15
Option 2 – get a second cart, 240-litre size $60
Option 3 – get a second cart, 360-litre size $75
  • You must contact 311 to upgrade your service.
  • We will deliver the cart for a $25.00 fee or you can pick up the cart at no additional cost.
  • If you choose to pick up the cart, we will contact you when it is ready.
  • Details on upgrading your garbage service.
2. Can I temporarily get a larger or additional recycling cart?

No. If you order a larger or additional recycling cart, you must pay a one-time rental fee. If you have extra recycling drop it off at one of the recycling depots. These depots are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

3. What do I do if I want to cancel my upgraded service?

You can return your additional cart / larger size cart at 1120 Waverley Street, or we can pick up your cart for a $25.00 fee.

4. If I move, can you transfer my upgraded service to my new address?

Yes, as long as you move to another single-family property in Winnipeg. Please call 311 at least two weeks prior to the move. If we don’t hear from you, the next resident may report the cart as missing.

Here are some reasons why your collection may have been missed, and how to report a missed collection.

If we cannot collect your cart, we will leave a tag with the reason why it wasn’t serviced.

  1. Not enough space around the carts
    The collection arm on the truck needs space (at least one arm’s length) so it will not tip over other carts or damage property.
  2. Cart facing the wrong way
    The arrows on the cart lid must point to the centre of the street. Dumping the cart backwards can break or damage the lid.
  3. Overfilled cart
    The cart lid must be completely closed. Otherwise the lid can be damaged when the cart is emptied.
  4. Items on top or beside the cart
    If you have extra recycling that doesn't fit in your cart, drop it off at one of the recycling depots.
  5. Cart blocked
    • on the ground (e.g., snowbank, parked vehicle)
    • overhead (e.g., low hanging wires, trees, eavestroughs)
  6. Inappropriate waste in your recycling cart

If your cart was not tagged and none of these reasons explain why your cart wasn’t emptied, please leave it out and contact our 311 Centre.

Here are some tips to help protect your carts from arson.

  • Put your carts out by 7:00 am on your collection day, but no sooner than the night before.
  • Move your carts back onto your property soon as possible after they are emptied.
  • Between collections, store your carts in a safe place on your property. Do not leave them at or close to the back lane or front street.
  • Contact 311 and request a special pickup for large items, or to report large items abandoned in your neighbourhood.

Last updated: May 14, 2015

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