Composting can seem like a complicated procedure, but the initiatives put in place by the City of Toronto makes it surprisingly simple to do your part in keeping Canada as green as can be. With complimentary Green Bins and compost pick-up, all you have to do it properly sort your waste to be disposed of at Toronto’s organic processing facility. The compost from the facility is then used as a soil amendment for parks and farmland.

You don’t even need to buy biodegradable bags to use in your Green Bins, as regular plastic grocery bags will work just fine! The processing facility has mechanisms in place to remove the plastic bags holding the organic waste.

The city of Toronto has provided Green Bins to residents since 2008, with the goal of reducing the amount of organic waste ending up in landfills. 30% of household garbage is organic waste that can be turned into compost.

In a study by Statistics Canada based on a 2011 Households and the Environment Survey, 71% of Toronto residents reported to compost kitchen waste. That number is lower, however, in regards to apartment-dwellers, as it doesn’t seem as straightforward. Think your apartment doesn’t participate in the Green Bin program? It’s actually mandatory for all property management in Toronto and it is their duty to make the organic waste program as convenient to residents as recycling and garbage disposal. If your apartment doesn’t seem to be participating, bring it up with the property management to implement the program and encourage residents to do their share!

U of T itself has a number of Green Bins in residence dining halls and cafeterias to contribute to a greener campus (32 bins, to be exact), and some residences, such as Innis College Residence with its apartment-style rooms, provide Green Bins for each suite. Each year, the initiative only increases in its ferocity to create a more sustainable campus environment!

Want to compost, but a little unsure what does where? Take a look at the list provided by the City of Toronto:

What can go into my Green Bin?

  • Meat, poultry, and fish products.
  • Pasta, bread, cereals, and rice.
  • Dairy products, eggs, and egg shells.
  • Coffee grounds, filters, and tea bags.
  • Cake, cookies, and candy.
  • Diapers and sanitary products.
  • Animal waste, bedding, and cat litter.
  • House plants, including soil.
  • Soiled paper, such as food packaging (ice cream containers, popcorn bags, flour and sugar bags), as well as tissues, napkins, paper towels (excluding those used with chemicals).

What can’t go in my Green Bin?

  • Most packaging:
    • Plastic or foil bags, wraps, and trays.
    • Foam polystyrene meat trays and liners.
    • Plastic food containers, glass jars, and pop cans.
    • Hot drink cups, lids, and sleeves.
  • Garbage:
    • Dryer sheets, baby wipes, make-up pads, cotton tipped swabs, and dental floss.
    • Hair, pet fur, feathers, wax, wood pieces, cigarette butts, wine corks, vacuum bags/contents, fireplace and BBQ ashes.

Counter-top composting is a completely viable option for students in both residence and in their own apartments. With the city provided Green Bins and pick-up, limiting your waste has never been easier! So start composting, eliminate excessive food waste, and contribute to a greener campus! Here’s a couple tips to get your started and make your composting experience as flawless (and fresh!) as possible:

  • If you’re concerned about odors or flies, wrap susceptible food waste in a biodegradable paper, such as a paper towel or sheet of newspaper.
  • In hot weather, freezing your organic waste can help reduce odor. Simply put your food waste in a biodegradable container in the freezer until collection day!
  • Be sure to clean your Green Bin from time to time, even if you use a liner. Using lemon juice, vinegar, or baking soda will reduce odors and keep bugs out.

– Emily Hotton


City of Toronto – Green Bin Organics Program
City of Toronto – Green Bin Program FAQ
Statistics Canada – Composting by Households in Canada