Residential Recycling Options

On March 11, 2011, in Phase 2, Speaking Up, Video, by Justin

Randy Park, the supervisor of waste diversion at the City of Winnipeg shares shares two options for single family home recycling: blue automated carts or an additional blue box. Learn about these options and tell us which option do you prefer. Which option do you think is best for Winnipeg?

Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Randy Park, the supervisor of waste diversion at the City of Winnipeg.

Through Phase 1 of the Garbage and Recycling Master Plan, we heard that Winnipeggers want to recycle more.

We currently recycle 47,000 tonnes of material a year. Over the next 5 years, we could increase that to 72,000 tonnes with improvements to our recycling program.

We have two options for single-family recycling that we’d like your feedback on.

One option is to provide a blue cart for every single-family home in the city. The carts:

  • Hold 3 – 4 times as much as our current blue boxes
  • Are easy to roll, and extremely durable
  • Help to reduce litter
  • Keeps the material dry which improves its value when sold.
  • Are less likely to be blown away by the wind
  • Provide a safer and more efficient work environment for collectors

At a cost of $40 – $50 per cart, it would cost about $9 million to provide each home with one cart.

Another option is to provide one additional blue box for every single-family home.

Although the blue box option is not expected to be as successful as the cart option in increasing the volume of material recycled, blue boxes:

  • Are more flexible, so you can use as few or as many as you need to
  • Need less storage space (if you use just one)
  • Cost less to replace than carts

At a cost of $7 per blue box, it would cost about $1.2 million to provide each home with one blue box.

Increasing the amount Winnipeg recycles is an important step in reducing the amount of landfilled garbage by 50%.

So which option do you prefer – carts or blue boxes? Which option do you think is best for Winnipeg?

For more information or to give us your feedback on yard waste collection and the Garbage and Recycling Master Plan, visit us at

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31 Responses to Residential Recycling Options

  1. Andy says:

    I would prefer to have a cart for recylcing. We have been using the garbage cart in the St. James area for the last year or so and I think it is great! Only one trip to the curb to "take the garbage out" and everything is contained within the cart. I currently use multiple recycling boxes and often find that the loose items blow down the street and require multiple trips to the street.

  2. Will says:

    In the UK we had the same carts as are now being looking at being implemented in Winnipeg. It's definitely nicer/safer for the garbage/recycling men, so for that reason alone, I think they would be great.

    We also had a garbage pickup (1 cart per household) every two weeks, with recycling every two weeks in between (i.e. alternating). We had 4-5 people (adults) living in our house, and we learnt to make sure we recycled everything we could, because garbage space was valuable (also we didn't have compost pickup, but we still did fine).

    With compost / yard waste pickup also in the works, and organic waste making up a large proportion of most people's garbage, why don't we have just one cart for each house, and then this is used for garbage one week, and then recycling the other? – To know which week we were in (i.e. to remind people if it was recycling or garbage week), perhaps all the garbage/recycling men would have to do is flip/slide over a large identifier on the bin once it is dumped (i.e. a large green/grey circle on the lid)……

    • Will says:

      ……This would be good because it should save the city from having to spend the ~$9million(?) on a blue recycling cart and so would just be the $9million dollars on the grey recycling cart for everyone, and would also save people space in their yard (i.e. just one cart). Because Winnipeg has such an advanced recycling system (i.e. material doesn't have to be sorted at the source like many recycling systems around the world), couldn't the same 'garbage' trucks be used for the recycling as well? – i.e. one week they're garbage trucks, and the next they're recycling? – Saving considerable cost to Winnipeg.

      Like with pretty much every introduction of a new system, there would be teething problems, but in order to try and curb people's reliance on unlimited garbage, and if a compost/yard waste/recycling/garbage is all being introduced at the same time, I think (based on my experience in the UK of a 4-5 person household) an alternating recycling/garbage cart could work, save the City considerable money, and get the City of Winnipeg on a far more green and eco-conscious path. Critical to the credibility of Winnipeg and Canada, in terms of doing our bit to help the environment….

      • Will says:

        ……If the idea above is feasible (and any other ideas), is there enough time to consider doing a trial in an area of the city? Or is there not much time is left in terms of a decision on which way to go, i.e. in terms of buying two carts per household, two sets of automated garbage/recycling trucks, etc…

        Thanks again for listening and setting this up. I think this is a great thing you are doing in terms of communicating, and making it easy for people to provide feedback. In my mind, this is what true democracy should be like. Cheers.

      • SpeakUpWinnipeg says:


        Thanks for the suggestions. Alternating week pick-ups and co-collection have the potential to provide efficiency and savings to our collection. We are not proposing any changes to the collection schedule within the short term, but these are possibilities that we can look at in the future.

        Edmonton, for example, only picks up garbage every other week in winter. Generally, the materials which alternate must be inert. For example, garbage and recycling can be alternated as long as there is pick-up weekly for organic materials, otherwise there will be problems in summer with odour from the organic material in the garbage.

        One challenge to only using one cart for garbage and recycling is that many residents use their cart to store their garbage during the week, not just on collection day. So residents would have to find an alternate place to store their garbage and recycling for two weeks.

        Part of any plans for change is allowing time for residents to get used to the new system and learn what materials go where. We also need time to implement systems like a composting facility if the public shows a desire for kitchen waste collection. Once these changes are in place, we would re-evaluate how often materials need to be collected and we would be in a position to do some trials with ideas like alternating week pick-ups to reduce costs and optimize the collection.

  3. RON EDMONDS says:

    i would prefer the cart to the boxes

  4. Moe says:

    I would LOVE a cart for our household!! We currently use 2-3 blue boxes and every week I pick up recyclables that have blown out of the blue boxes in my neighborhood due to windy weather etc. The blue boxes are not sturdy enough and need replacing often too and are if the paper products are more valuable if kept dry then the cart is definitely the way to go!

  5. Lori says:

    Our family would love to have the blue cart but we would want it to be larger than the roll out garbage can we currently have and are using from the city! We have five recycle bins that go out each week already and only a half of can of garbage for a family of six I think we can do even better than this if we had a large roll out recycle bin. We love our roll out garbage can as it is so much easier to use than bags and other cans. Our neighbor shares with us as well as she is a single woman and doesn't have much garbage or recycling so just adds to our containers which in turns makes one less stop for pick up.

  6. Judith says:

    CART! Give me a C A R T! In fact, i'd pay for two! LOL! I never have as much garbage a week as I do recycling! it takes my house 2 to 3 weeks to come up with one bag of garbage!

  7. frustrated says:

    I do not want the carts. With our yard and front pickup it would be to cumbersome to move them on garbage day for recycling especially in the winter time and huge snow banks. There is just enough room for the blue boxes where are we suppose to put the carts?

    Right now the blue box easily sits inside the house and we can recycle all that we can without any problems. Its a lot easier for us to use the blue boxes and in turn carry them out to the curb than the monster carts. If we are forced to use the new carts I doubt that we will recycle at all.

    • Will says:

      I would prefer a cart because I have a back lane and I could (hopefully) leave it there permanently. We have two green Superstore containers that we have in our lower kitchen cupboards (i.e. they sit side by side on the lowest shelf). It's handy just to throw recycling in there and when they're full the can both be carried out at the same time (one of top of the other) and dumped into the blue boxes (which are slightly bigger) so it doesn't overflow that much, though usually I spill some so have to pick it up and throw the odd bit back in the box. We could actually do with 3 boxes, though have never got round to buying a third.

      It would be nice if we could leave a note out the back to ask for another recycling bin, then the recycling people log it, and a bin is shipped out, or they have some in stock and just provide another one.

      • Will says:

        Perhaps there could be videos on youtube on how people store and transfer their recycling, so that other Winnipeggers can get ideas on how best to store and transfer their recycling? – I think the hassle of doing this is something that stops people from recycling, so it has to be made as easy as possible (and/or an incentive given as I posted on a previous comment).

        If we had a cart, it would be easier as it is bigger and don't have to worry about it overflowing as much. And it protects it from rain. However, I can see that having to drag the bin out the bag each time there is a pickup would be a hassle, though I did this in the UK, and you just get used to it. We used to have garbage pickup every two weeks, and recycling every two weeks in between that.

        Perhaps the city should buy lids for everyone, and ask people to start using these, and educate people on the importance of keeping the recycling dry. Also, perhaps the recyling boxes can be stacked up on top of each other to save space, with just the top box needing a lid. Providing people with an educational pamphlet could explain everything that the city wants.

    • Judith says:

      Actually if you can fit a blue box you can fit a cart, they are taller, not wider! one cart is like 3 recycle boxes!

  8. Linda says:

    We would love to have the large recycle cart. The small blue boxes get damaged too easily.

  9. Irene Welch says:

    I think the blue boxes work very well. I've had two boxes since recycling started and only had to replace them once. They are more economical than other options. Let's direct the cost of those options to public education on the subject so we can get greater compliance to recycle. We should also implement curbside composting to further cut back on garbage going to landfill. I compost year round as well as recycle 2 boxes full weekly and have reduced my garbage to a kitchen size garbage bag weekly. We are a family of three. Yard waste ( leaves, small branches etc) is our biggest problem as we live in an older neighborhood with many mature trees. I would like to see a program to pickup yard waste as part of the composting program. Thank you

  10. Will says:

    btw – is there any benefit for people being able to bring high value plastics (such as PP and HDPE, or plastics/glass of a certain colour) to a central facility or collection points? – I know this uses more gas, but perhaps there is a business case for separating out some high grade plastics? (and perhaps people get more of an incentive for doing this). There could be separate large bins for putting your green, white, clear plastics in, and data could be logged to the same central system as discussed above.

    • SpeakUpWinnipeg says:


      The city accepts plastic containers with a recycling triangle on the bottom, including all bottles, pails, tubs, and jugs.

      For some materials such as bulky metal items not suitable for blue box (copper pipe, aluminum BBQ, etc) you can recycle these items privately at numerous scrap dealers in the city. The dealers pay you to give them the materials.

      We are currently evaluating and seeking public comment on Community Depots where residents can drop off materials for diversion ( These facilities will accept a variety of separated and co-mingled materials and it would be possible to pilot separated plastics collections; an excellent example of such a program is in Victoria, BC. In Victoria residents can bring HDPE patio chairs and tables for recycling, along with other bulky HDPE items.

  11. Will says:

    …Data could then downloaded to central database. If the buttons are large and easy to use, it would just become force of habit for the garbage/recycling men to press the buttons each time they dump the waste, and wouldn't take much time at all.

    Then, when tax time comes around, this can be used to determine if there is a rebate. Also, people can get a readout of how much they could potentially recycle, i.e. how much the recycled vs threw away, how this compares to other people, what your rating is. For people who make a real effort, they should get recognition and certificate, and entered into a draw, or invited to visit the recycling centre or government event.

    People need an incentive to do anything, and by making it a challenge/game people will enjoy recycling.

    Thanks for listening, and glad to see there is some discussion about this, as common sense would suggest that there is value in the materials we are throwing out. There's nothing more important we can do while we are here on earth than to do our bit for making the environment we all live in a little better.

    • Will says:

      Just to add to the discussion, a caller into CBC radio pointed out yesterday that not throwing hazardous waste such as batteries, pesticides, motor oil, etc. into the landfill is as important, if not more important than increasing the amount of paper, plastic, etc that is recycled. Hazardous waste thrown in the landfill will eventually get into the groundwater and/or atmosphere, causing harm to future generations.

      Making sure that residents of Winnipeg are disposing harmful chemicals appropriately (i.e. not down the drain or in the garbage) is an important part of any green/recycling initiative. I would rather spend millions on making sure that residents are safely disposing these harmful chemicals first (i.e. education, making it easier, incentives, etc), and then increasing recycling and perhaps introducing carts. On the other hand, if increasing recycling increases revenue, and this revenue can be used to improve the quality of our environment, then I would support that.

      • Jennifer says:

        Wow Will you are making some great points here! Information on how to properly recycle hazardous wastes as well as which types of plastics, etc is knowledge that every Winnipeger should know.

  12. Will says:

    It looks like the sorting machine is great, and the system we're using is pretty cost effective. Perhaps there needs to be some more incentive for people to recycle their waste…

    One idea could be that households get a tax rebate, small gift, recognition or entered into a competition for having a good 'recycling to waste' ratio. We know that most of the garbage can be recycled, so how can people be rewarded for putting effort in? – As you say, it only costs $13 (per year?) to recycle, whereas it is $61 for garbage, so there seems to be a monetary benefit to the city to recycle more. So, it looks like there could be a better incentive scheme.

    The problem them arises how do you know what the weight/volume is? One way that should work well would be just to do it by volume, so the garbage/recycling men log what is collected, i.e. "3 + large blue boxes", or "2 + standard carts", they would need to press just two buttons (number + identifier). The GPS could automatically pick up where the location is, and log that amount for the house….

  13. Will says:

    I think whether you have a box or a cart depends on how much space you have. Some people may prefer carts, so perhaps the trucks should be able to handle both.

    That is amazing that 95% of recycled material collected is recycled, that's great! What happens to the glass that is collected? – I see there is a big pile of glass at the landfill, so is this included in the 95%?

    Also, I would be interested in knowing if anything is recycled back in Manitoba? Could there be an incentive to do Research and Development on using recycled content in Manitoba? – i.e. help kick start some companies making things out of recycled material.

    Also, what % of the garbage at the landfill is biomass? – it seems like a waste of space to have that there, when you could either compost it, or use for biomass energy. Is there anything that is being looked at there?

  14. T.J. McLeod says:

    I believe they do recycle what they take,it's not a conspiracy of some kind. What I do expect to see with this change for the better, is the City stepping up and tackling all those mattresses and other illegal items being dumped and for which are being reported to 311. Some of us are skeptical about that part and although it's pretty mind boggling as to what people dump in many of the neighborhoods (not their own of course), that will not change much when the autobins are removed. Sure, would be nice in theory but many who stop their vehicles and offload, don't always throw it in the large bins, they're often found leaning against other things-fences, garages, vehicles etc. I expect that they'll hire a few more officers to deal with such problems. Recycling is also a good thing, one cannot dispute that such a change isn't prudent. One thing I'd expect to see and it involves the MB Government as well as City Hall to get onboard here, all of those "deposits" we pay for pop bottles and cans and anything else, I want the option to save them up and turn them in for actual money. I don't care if it's 2 cents or 5 cents, other provinces already offer this yet in Winnipeg those in the recycling end often state "we're non-profit so it will hurt us" So what, non-profit but you all still get paid I'd think, or do you work for free like a volunteer? Even those places that employ the special needs persons, get workers that are paid in some way so I want this option and soon or the City of Wpg. and/or the MB government are just being hypocrites. It's why you won't ever see a beer can on the road for more than a few hours, people pick them up and cash 'em in. Thousands of pop cans or bottles everywhere since "it's only 2 cents for a penalty at time of purchase." You don't see so many scrambling to pick those up. The carts will be a good idea but another thing to note re: damage from the guy picking them up. I've witnessed on more than a few times where the lone person driving that truck (yes, private company but so what!), somehow flips the larger black to-the-curb carts into the back of that truck. Also noticed that he enters an access door and literally catapults that thing out from the top and it lands on the ground (about a 12 foot drop) with a large thud. Damage will eventually occur and don't ever think the homeowner will be paying for that replacement either. My own property, I have video surveillance and intend on fighting them if they ever refuse to pay for repairs or replacement and will win, guaranteed! I do plan on calling up 311 every single time I see junk in the backlanes since that will not stop just because the bins are on their way out. I encourage many of you to do the same but also to accept this change as a good thing. There is no limit as to how many blue bins one household can have sitting and waiting for pickup and if you are using the autobins right now, look closely at your own refuse and see how much of that could have been recycled. The added note to this long comment, recycling your old tv's and other items? If they aren't forcing you to take your old PC to a place like Syrotech etc. and pay for that option but are setting up depots where you can drop it off, great. Also, things that still work and thrown into those bins now, places like Value Village sell exactly such things and am I wrong to say that many citizens go dumpster diving and find their own treasures? One last thing to note though Winnipeg? Within a few years this too will be changed and microchips will be in use for them to monitor what you dump, how much the cart ways and it WILL BE Pay-As-You-Go. Refute this if you'd like to try but it will be fact in a few years.

  15. SpeakUpWinnipeg says:

    @Ed & KDF

    Thanks for your questions about our recycling program.

    Approximately 95% of all material received through the blue box program and recycling depots at the Materials Recovery Facility is sorted, baled and then sold and shipped to manufacturers all over the world.

    The cost of shipping material to be recycled is taken into account when it is sold. Material is shipped when there are no local markets and it makes financial sense. The net cost of recycling was approximately $13 per household in 2009. In comparison, the cost for garbage collection was approximately $61 per household.

    Using recycled material generally uses a lot less energy than new materials. For example, recycled Aluminum uses 96% less energy and boxboard (e.g. cereal boxes) 43% less energy.

    Reducing and Reusing are the first two steps in the waste hierarchy that we've adopted for the Garbage and Recycling Master Plan.

    Here are some links to more information on our site:
    MRF Tour:
    Guiding Principles:
    Phase 2 Options:

    Thanks again for your questions!

  16. KDF says:

    Ed Vorst raises some important questions. I often wonder as I'm rinsing out containers for the recycling bin whether I'm wasting additional water because the container might end up in a landfill. Folks don't always realize that just because something is "recyclable where facilities exist" doesn't mean that the facilities exist here or that there is a demand for the recycled product. I'd like to see the answers to the questions posed by Ed. Vorst before selecting EITHER option.

    • T.J. McLeod says:

      I for one think it's totally wasteful to be required to rinse out containers and waste all that water. You pay to pour it, you pay to get rid of it in some way. Take a beer can or bottle that has been drained by the person who might stuff their cigarette butt in the thing. They don't rinse them out before they cash them in. Yes they're dirty but even the lowly pop bottle or can gets recycled and completely cleaned for whatever it becomes next. I for one refuse to wash out my 4-liter milk jugs since it's obvious I'm wasting water but of course keeping my drain really really fresh and clean and also making the city machinery work even harder for that process too. I don't vacuum out my cereal boxes either, wouldn't make sense and since all recyclables are dumped into dirty trucks and bacteria abounds in all environments it travels through, those same recyclables don't have to be spic and span when thrown in your bluebox. Sure, don't want chunks of meat and fat left in a styrofoam tray but then again you cannot actually clean that styrofoam since it's porous and has now absorbed all that bacteria by now. I want better options here, I want them to make more sense and NOT try to brainwash into thinking we should be completely sanitizing something like a milk jug considering what it will go through to complete the transition to recycled materials.

      • SpeakUpWinnipeg says:

        Hello T.J.

        You raise a number of important points. We don’t require rinsing of recyclables for the blue box.

        You can rinse your recyclables if you choose to, which may help reduce odour. Some residents may find this helpful if they keep their blue box in their home. We do request that items placed in your blue box be emptied. For example pour out what’s left in a bottle or empty a food container that was spoiled.

        Finally, you mention Styrofoam trays used for meat packaging. We currently do not accept Styrofoam or polystyrene (PS or Type 6), the plastic Styrofoam is made from. They should be placed in your garbage.

        More information on recycling is available here:… or see our FAQ section

  17. Ed. Vorst says:

    I think it's important to note that our recycling programs in Winnipeg might be a huge crock of hooey. Before I start recycling more, I'd like to know whether or not my blue-box fill doesn't just become landfill somewhere else. Or, whether or not the fossil fuels being used to collect and re-distribute don't outweigh any benefit in recycling said materials.

    If the main goal right now of the city is to get us to recycle more, they're going to have to justify it, regardless of price. And, should that really be their goal anyway? Shouldn't they be somehow encouraging us to consume less instead of dealing only with the after effect thereof?

  18. karl says:

    I would love a cart! Somehow I think it's going to get all political when people will not be able to decide which side of the street the box should be on in order to get picked up.

  19. Trish says:

    I would prefer a cart; the box is clunky and we recycle a lot, so we'll often have the box + at least two blue recycle bags.

  20. candice says:

    would LOVE to have the blue carts! although if we stayed with the blue boxes i'm not sure why we would have to provide everyone with an extra box…my family needed a second one so we simply went out and bought another one. why can families not just go out and do this now if they wish to recycle more?