Household waste can quickly pile up. The best way to approach household waste is to reduce the amount you create. However, it is important to ensure that the waste you do create is disposed in a manner that is environmentally safe and follows local rules and regulations.

Many household items can be reused, resold, refurbished or recycled if they’re still in fair condition. Items like printer paper, clothing or textiles, plastic bags, and electronics (which can contain many types of metals), can be made into new products or repurposed. You can also reuse old or worn-out clothing as cleaning rags. You may consider donating or selling your electronic item if it is still in working order, or selling it for parts.

Proper Disposal Methods

Before you dispose of something as regular garbage, ensure you’re disposing of it correctly. Here are disposal methods you may find useful:

  • Compost & Recycling: A large number of items may be included for compost and recycling pickup in your region. Many municipalities in Canada have a green bin program for disposal of biodegradable waste. Items vary by area, but often include food wastes, paper and paper products, aluminum cans, glass, and some plastics.
  • Oversized Items: Large items such as beds, couches, and other types of furniture may be picked up at the curb by your municipality during regular waste pickup. Check for any exclusions or limitations for your region on the number of items you can throw away.
  • Hazardous Waste: Hazardous waste, such as paint, cleaning products and batteries, is treated differently than other types of waste because of possible chemicals or toxic substances that may be harmful to groundwater or soil. Several programs exist across Canada that specialize in the safe disposal of hazardous waste. To find the program nearest you and for more information on drop-off locations or special event dates, check your municipal, provincial, and territorial government websites.
  • Biochemical: Biochemical waste, such as needles, syringes, or unused drugs is considered a biohazard. Needles and syringes must be disposed of in puncture resistant, yellow, labelled containers, and can be dropped off at local hazardous waste facilities. Many needle and syringe containers, along with unused or old prescription drugs, can also be dropped off at your local pharmacy. Proper disposal of these products is important to protect water quality, soil, and ensure the safety of others.
  • E-waste: E-waste is electronic waste that includes unwanted electrical equipment and used batteries. E-waste should not be treated as garbage because the items may pose environmental hazards. Electronic equipment contains toxic substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic and when burned can produce toxic air pollutants or contaminate soil. Check with your municipal, provincial or territorial government for information on possible e-waste disposal programs.
  • Donation: Many household items that are in fair condition may be donated or reused. Clothing and textiles are versatile items and can either be repurposed, recycled, or donated to charities or other non-profit organizations. Some communities have curb-side pickup programs for larger donations that are in fair condition. Check with your municipality and local charities for special events or drop off locations.

Disposal Tips for Common Household Products

Listed below are some common products that you may have in your home. Not every product is mentioned and if you have any questions about the disposal of specific products, it’s best to check with the manufacturer, or your municipal, provincial, and territorial governments for disposal instructions and special programs.

Cleaning Products:

Products such as detergents, solvents, and disinfectants, should not be placed in the trash. You may be able to drop off these products at depots that accept hazardous waste.

Aerosol Containers:

Some kitchen disinfectants and even some food products may come in aerosol containers. These containers can use nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide (for food), or isobutene (for foam-based cleaning products) in order to dispense the product. These containers are under pressure and are often flammable. Aerosol containers should be dropped off at a local hazardous waste depot when finished.

Plastic Bags:

Plastic bags, such as those used to carry groceries are typically made from polyethylene and can take hundreds of years to break down in the soil. There are plastic bag drop off depots across Canada, so check locally for depot locations. Plastic bags can also be reused to pack groceries. Reusable cloth or fabric bags can be used to take home groceries and are a great way of avoiding the accumulation of plastic bags. It is important to remember to wash the cloth bags regularly in order to keep them clean.

Kitchen Grease or Cooking Oil:

Some types of kitchen grease or cooking oils can be saved and reused, but don’t pour them down the drain. If you do, fats and oils can damage municipal drain pipes as well as your own. It’s best to save fats and oils in a reusable container, and then dispose of them on municipal pickup day along with the rest of your household garbage. Depending on where you live, you may be able to dispose of fats and oils in municipal compost bins. Check with your municipality to be sure.

Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs:

Prescription and non-prescription drugs, including vitamins and other supplements can be harmful to water and aquatic life if flushed down the drain. If you have any leftover or expired drugs, they can be dropped off at your local pharmacy for safe disposal. The Health Products Stewardship Association has more information regarding drop-off locations.

Ink Cartridges:

Ink cartridges can be recycled through various recycling programs, so it’s best to first check with the manufacturer for details. The plastics used to make cartridges are often recycled to make new products. Many cartridges can also be refilled at stores for repeated use.

Paint & Paint Cans:

In many jurisdictions, leftover paint must be returned to hazardous waste depots. It is often illegal to dispose of it otherwise. Contact the store where your paint was purchased for disposal information. Some paints can be reused and may even be re-tinted to make another colour.

Empty paint cans, including metal and plastic containers, can also be recycled through hazardous waste depots. If the paint is latex and has hardened in the container it may be safe for recycling through the regular recycling pick-up – but make sure to check with your municipality.

Motor Oil and Filters:

Disposing used oils down sewer pipes or drains can cause damage and pollute ground water. The Environmental Protection Act prohibits used oil from being disposed of in landfills in many provinces and territories. Many provinces and territories have recycling regulations that ensure used motor oil and filters are disposed of safely through vehicle service centres or hazardous waste depots.

Lawn and Pool Chemicals:

Lawn and pool chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides can pollute water and soil if disposed of incorrectly. Health Canada regulates the lawn and pesticide industry through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Many local depots will accept items. Check with your municipality for locations near you.

Antifreeze:

Antifreeze contains ethylene or propylene glycol. Any leftover product or empty containers should be sealed and dropped off at hazardous waste depots. It is often recycled into new products.

Tires:

Do not to throw tires in the trash — they can be recycled through various provincial, territorial, or federal run programs. Recycled tires can be used to make new rubber products and fuel. Many garages will also accept old or worn-out tires, so make sure to check the garage nearest you for drop-off locations.

Light Bulbs:

Light bulbs, including fluorescent, incandescent, tube lighting,compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and Light-emitting diode (LED) lights need special care when disposed. Because some bulbs contain mercury, they should not simply be thrown away in the trash. Regulations for disposal vary by province and territory, so check locally to find a drop off location.

Batteries:

Rechargeable and single use batteries may contain lead-acid, lithium, nickel-cadmium, silver oxide, or mercury. These toxic substances are harmful to humans and the environment. Some non-profit organizations accept old batteries and other small electronics for safe recycling. You can often return used batteries to the store where they were purchased or at a hazardous waste disposal site run by your municipality.

E-Waste:

Here is a list of electronic items that are considered e-waste:

  • Amplifiers
  • Audio and video players and recorders (e.g. DVD and VCR players)
  • Cameras
  • Cell phones
  • Computers and related equipment (e.g. keyboard, mice)
  • E-Readers and tablets
  • Batteries
  • Digital watches
  • Copiers
  • Fax machines
  • Microwaves
  • Monitors
  • Pagers and PDAs
  • Portable media players (e.g. mp3)
  • Printers
  • Radios
  • Receivers
  • Scanners
  • Small appliances
  • Speakers
  • Telephones and answering machines
  • Tuners
  • Turntables
  • Televisions
  • Video projectors

For more information about how to dispose of these products, please refer to the E-Waste section of the Consumer Handbook.

Organic Waste:

Many types of food and kitchen waste can be safely composted. Items like plants, soil, fruits and vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds, and more can be reused in gardens or disposed of in municipal or home compost bins. Other acceptable items include leaves, lawn clippings, and weeds.Check with your municipality for a list of excluded items.

Apartment or condominium residents should check with their building manager to see how these programs are run in their building.

Federal Consumer Affairs Office

Office of Consumer Affairs

235 Queen Street

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0H5

Telephone: 343-291-3280

Email

Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices

Alberta

Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-4088
Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088

Email
Websitewww.servicealberta.ca

British Columbia

Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd
PO Box 9244

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9J2

Telephone: 604-320-1667
Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963
Fax: 250-920-7181

Email
Websitewww.consumerprotectionbc.ca

Manitoba

Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
302-258 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067
Fax: 204-945-0728

Email
Websitewww.manitoba.ca/consumerinfo

New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
225 King Street, Suite 200

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 1E1

Toll Free: 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494

Email
Websitewww.fcnb.ca

Newfoundland and Labrador

Service NL
PO Box 8700

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1B 4J6

Telephone: 709-729-2600
Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998

Email
Websitewww.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/index.html

Northwest Territories

Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600
PO Box 1320

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2L9

Telephone: 867-767-9161 ext 21022
Fax: 867-873-0309

Email
Websitewww.maca.gov.nt.ca/en/services/consumer-affairs

Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357
Fax: 902-424-0720

Email
Websitenovascotia.ca/sns/access/individuals/consumer-awareness.asp

Nunavut

Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
3090 – 9th Street
P.O. Box 440

Baker Lake, Nunavut  X0C 0A0

Telephone: 867-793-3303
Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139
Fax: 867-793-3321

Email
Websitewww.gov.nu.ca/

Ontario

Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave, Station A

Toronto, Ontario  M3M 1J8

Telephone: 416-326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086
Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545
Fax: 416-326-8665

Email
Websitewww.ontario.ca/consumerprotection

Prince Edward Island

Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
Shaw Building, 4th Floor
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-4580
Telephone: 902-368-4550
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799
Fax: 902-368-5283

Websitehttps://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/consumer-services

Quebec

Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450

Québec, Quebec  G1K 8W4

Telephone: 418-643-1484
Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976

Websitewww.opc.gouv.qc.ca

Yukon

Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
307 Black Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2N1

Telephone: 867-667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111
Fax: 867-667-3609

Email
Websitewww.community.gov.yk.ca/consumer/index.html

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