In Toronto, close to 460,000 houses (plus most apartment and condo buildings) have their organic waste collected by the City of Toronto.
But, according to City audits, about 40% of what’s put in the garbage is organic waste that could have gone into the Green Bin.
When put in the garbage, those food scraps, pizza boxes and coffee grounds head straight to landfill, where the gases they produce as they break down contribute to climate change.
Putting your organic waste in the Green Bin, meanwhile, is an environmental win in more ways than one.
On top of reducing the harmful emissions coming from landfills, Toronto's Green Bin program contributes to the production of high-quality compost, which can be used to feed and nourish soil.
The City is also among the first in North America to produce Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) from the processing of organic waste.
The natural gas that's extracted from mining and drilling is a non-renewable fossil fuel. RNG, meanwhile, is chemically identical to natural gas but totally renewable — since it can be produced from the processing of the organic waste you put in the Green Bin.
The RNG produced can then be used to help fuel City vehicles and help heat City buildings, closing the loop.
All that to say: You may be throwing away valuable energy when you toss food scraps in the trash.All food waste can be put in the Green Bin, but if you're ready to have your eyes opened, here are seven other things you might be surprised can go in there too.
Saklakova | Adobe Stock
Pet waste, in any bag, can be disposed of in the Green Bin.
The City of Toronto has also installed Green Bins for organic waste in all Dog Off-Leash Areas of its many parks and also has a compartment in some of its street litter bins just for dog waste — saving you the less-than-fun experience of carrying it with you all the way home.
House plants R.I.P.
It's a difficult time when one of your leafy companions gives up the ghost. But, by laying it to rest in your Green Bin, your friend will become compost that can be used to help something new grow. Just shake off any excess soil first.
Coffee grounds, filters & tea bags
Coffee grounds, filters and tea bags can all be put in the Green Bin. Keep in mind that coffee pods aren't accepted, though.
Menstrual hygiene products
Single-use menstrual products can also be disposed of in the Green Bin. Any plastic wrappers and applicators should be placed in the garbage.
Reduce your waste by choosing an applicator-free option.
nys | Adobe Stock
When you’re raising a little human, convenience is everything. But while disposable diapers can save you on laundry, around 30 billion (with a "b") of them go to landfill in North America every year.
Instead of giving your disposables a one-way ticket to the trash heap, you can pop them in a Green Bin. Baby wipes should be put in the garbage.
Paper towels, tissues & napkins
New Africa | Adobe Stock
As long as your paper towels, tissues and napkins aren’t soiled by inorganic materials like cleaning products or makeup, they can be added to your Green Bin. Otherwise, they belong in the garbage.
Food-soiled paper plates, pizza boxes & paper bags
Whether to trash or recycle a greasy pizza box has been a debate for decades, but in Toronto, you can take a third path — your Green Bin. And as long as you use paper plates without a plastic lining, they can be thrown in too.
As for any leftover slices, you can toss them straight into your mouth as a snack the next day.
Doing the right thing for the environment may seem like an overwhelming task, but it’s important to remember that day-to-day habits can have a massive impact in the long run.
For instance, by using the Green Bin, you're contributing to Toronto's city-wide efforts to divert waste away from landfill and harness renewable energy.
To test your knowledge about what can go in the Green Bin, the City of Toronto has also created an interactive AR experience where you can learn more about the RNG program. Just scan the QR code below to give it a go!
In the meantime, don't forget about your small-but-mighty Green Bin. And if you don’t know what to do with an item, check the Waste Wizard search tool.
To learn more about the Green Bin program, you can visit the City of Toronto’s website.