Using the green bin to its full potential - tips from

As you know, October 29th marked a big change in the City of Ottawa's waste collection. The new contracts, which will save residents $10 million per year, mean that organic waste (your green bin) will now be picked up every week! Garbage pickup is now every two weeks, but by taking advantage of waste diversion opportunities - blue and black boxes and the green bin - you will see a noticeable difference in the amount of garbage by your curb and the smell that comes from it. (There has been no change to recycling pickup.) You can learn more about the recent changes and find out when your next pickup will be on

So many things can go in your green bin and there are lots of ways to keep it clean and prevent pests from taking up residence in it. Here's a great list of tips from to help you get the most out of using your green bin:

Keep it clean

  • Line your Green Bin with flyers, a couple sheets of newspaper or yard waste paper bags to keep it clean.
  • Rinse your Green Bin with a garden hose from time to time, especially if you don’t line your bin with paper.
  • Rinse your green bin with lemon juice, vinegar or baking soda to reduce odours and keep bugs out. Bay, mint or eucalyptus leaves also mask odours.
  • Spray your green bin with cooking oil in the winter to minimize risk of items freezing to the bin and ensure easy removal of waste
  • Ice is nice. Keeping your meat or fish scraps in the freezer until collection day helps reduce odours

Keep animals and bugs away

  • Keep your green bin away from fences and deck railings so that animals can't get into it.
  • If you do place your bin near a fence or deck railing, secure it with a bungee cord so it doesn’t get knocked over.
  • Sprinkling a strong smelling biodegradable repellent such as vinegar or detergent on your cart will help keep pests away.
  • No critters allowed! Remember to lock the lid to keep animals out of your green bin.
  • Capture fruit flies with a bowl of vinegar covered with plastic wrap with several small holes in it. Empty as required
  • Put salt or vinegar on maggots to kill them. If maggots appear in the green bin, a fly has laid eggs on some exposed food waste.
  • Peppermint oil, cayenne or chili pepper or hot sauce can act as anti-gnawing repellants and help deter animals from taking an interest in your green bin.

Make collecting easier

  • Switch your kitchen bin for your garbage pail and keep your garbage pail somewhere else. Remember, if waste is yucky or smelly, it probably doesn’t belong in a garbage pail and probably belongs in the kitchen bin or green bin.
  • Keep indoor collection containers in your washrooms. Bathroom tissue, facial tissue and paper towels can be placed in the green bin.
  • Invite the green bin to your next BBQ. It’s a great party guest for food scraps, paper napkins and paper plates.

Alternatives to buying a bin liner

  • Use newspaper or any other paper-based product (like cereal boxes or waxed milk cartons) to line the bottom of your container(s).

Make a home-made bin liner [PDF - 13 KB] from old newspaper. Get the kids involved and have fun with it. One session could keep you in paper bags for weeks.

  • Paper coffee cups and waxed paper coffee cups go in your green bin, not in your black box or blue box. They can be used to hold cooking grease or kitchen sink guck before you put these things in your green bin.
  • Use empty cardboard cereal, cracker and cookie boxes to collect food scraps in your kitchen. Most of them fit perfectly in your kitchen bin

What not to do

  • The City's Green Bin program does not accept compostable or biodegradable plastic bin liners.
  • Clothing and textiles do not belong in your green bin. If you cannot donate this item, it can be disposed of through your regular curbside garbage.

Need paper liners for the green bin or kitchen container?

While it’s not necessary to use paper liners for your green bin, they are available at most major retailers. You can also use leaf and yard waste paper bags in the larger green bin.

Paper liners are available for sale at:

  • Canadian Tire
  • Giant Tiger
  • Home Depot
  • Home Hardware
  • Loblaws
  • Metro
  • Rona
  • Sobeys
  • Zellers
  • Costco
  • Walmart

Do you have other helpful hints for using the green bin that aren't listed here? Leave a comment below!