Recycling cart collection
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?
These are the only items that are accepted in our recycling program. Please make sure that all containers are empty and free of leftover food and liquids ( e.g., salad dressing or peanut butter).
All items should be separated, not stacked inside each other and not placed in plastic bags of any kind.
2. What items can't I put in my recycling cart?
Please don't place items that are not accepted in your recycling because the sorting facility is not designed for them.
Common items that we do not accept are:
Many of these items are accepted for free at the 4R Winnipeg Depots.
To find out what to do with these items, use our What Goes Where tool.
3. Why can’t I recycle black plastics?
We are currently unable to recycle black plastic items, such as black food trays and disposable coffee cup lids because:
- black plastic is difficult to recycle and has limited uses,
- the recycling facility uses optical sorters to separate plastics from other materials, and are unable to identify black plastics on the black conveyor belts,
- there is no viable market for black plastics to be sent to, and
- it would not be cost effective to sort black plastic manually and send to the few processors in North America that are able recycle black plastics.
4. Do you have other resources to learn about how to recycle in Winnipeg?
Yes. You can:
- download our recycling poster
- download the Recycle Coach app at winnipeg.ca/recyclecoach
- watch our recycling video on YouTube:
5. What can I do with my plastic bags?
- Reuse plastic bags when shopping.
- Reuse plastic bags as garbage bags.
- 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 and empty plastic bags for reuse at:
- Winnipeg Humane Society, 45 Hurst Way
- Winnipeg Harvest, 1085 Winnipeg Avenue
6. How should I put out my shredded paper for recycling?
To help reduce litter, put your shredded paper in full size (approximately 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.
7. 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 approximately 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.
8. 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, also called "nesting". Just toss them loosely into your cart. Our automated sorting machines cannot remove recyclables from paper bags or other items and sorting staff do not have the time as everything moves very quickly. Recyclables that are stuffed or stacked inside of each other may end up at the landfill.
9. Can I recycle books?
Only if book covers and glues used in the bindings are removed. These materials 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 the cover 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.
10. 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.
11. Why can't I recycle foam products, such as foam egg cartons, foam packaging or foam takeout food containers?
There are no viable markets for this product.
12. Can I recycle wrapping paper and tissue paper?
No. Wrapping paper is often blended with or is made from other materials, such as wax, plastic and foil, or contains heavy dyes, which can't be recycled. Tissue paper cannot handle the intensity of the recycling process and does not get sorted with other paper.
13. Can I recycle dry pet food bags?
No. Much like wrapping paper, these containers are often made of blended materials.
14. Can I recycle construction or art paper?
Yes, as long as it does not have crayon wax, glue or other materials on it.
15. 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.
16. How should I put my cardboard out for collection?
- Flatten cardboard boxes and put inside your recycling cart.
- Cut down large cardboard to a size that allows it to fall freely into the truck when the cart is emptied.
- Do not tie cardboard together.
- Remove any foam and plastic from cardboard boxes and place that material in the garbage.
- Do not leave cardboard beside your cart. It will not be collected.
17. Why can’t I recycle broken drinking glasses and dinnerware?
These items produce smaller shards of glass than glass food and beverage containers, which are dangerous to the staff at the sorting facility.
18. What can I do with my old blue boxes?
We charge a daily waste diversion fee to fund new programs that provide residents with more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Learn more about the fee here. Learn more about the fee here.
1. How much is the waste diversion fee?
The current waste diversion fee can be found here.
The waste diversion fee is:
- 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.
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?
On collection day, you must place your carts a certain way to ensure they are collected by the automated collection trucks.
1. When should I place my carts out for collection?
Put your carts out by 7:00 am on your collection day, but no sooner than the night before.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Do I have to place my carts out every collection day?
No. You can place your carts out on any of your collection days.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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:
- by phone at 204-986-2455, or
- by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 recycling cart is damaged?
- You are responsible for the cost of replacing or repairing your damaged 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 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
3. What happens if my recycling cart is lost or stolen?
- You are responsible for the cost of replacing lost or stolen carts.
- You must contact 311 to buy replacement carts.
- We will deliver the carts for a fee or you can pick up the carts at no additional cost.
- If you choose to pick up the carts, we will contact you when they are ready
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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. You may select only one option:
- Option 1: switch the 240-litre cart for a 360-litre cart
- Option 2: keep the original 240-litre cart and get a second cart, 240-litre size
- Option 3: keep the original 240-litre cart and get a second cart, 360-litre size
You must contact 311 to upgrade your service.
- We will deliver the cart for a 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 choose more than one upgrade option?
No. The maximum recycling cart upgrade volume allowed is 600 litres of recycling per week per dwelling unit, unless approved by the department.
3. 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.
4. What do I do if I want to cancel my upgraded service?
5. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Overfilled cart
The cart lid must be completely closed. Otherwise the lid can be damaged when the cart is emptied.
- 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.
- Cart blocked
- on the ground (e.g., snowbank, parked vehicle)
- overhead (e.g., low hanging wires, trees, eavestroughs)
- 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.
Tips to help you keep your recycling cart clean and prevent odours.
You can help keep your recycling cart clean by:
- rinsing food and beverage containers
- rinsing your cart occasionally with water from your garden hose to wash off debris (leave the lid open after rinsing to allow the cart to dry)
- using an environmentally friendly cleaning solution (e.g., spray with a solution of one part white vinegar, three parts warm water) to deodorize and disinfect the cart (leave the lid open after rinsing to allow the cart to dry)
- hiring a professional cart cleaning company
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.