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Canada - Waste Disposal

When you first arrive in Canada you should check with the local authorities to determine the type of refuse collections in your area. Most residential areas will have weekly or fortnightly curbside collections but there are some neighbourhoods in which this is not an option and you may find that you need to take your household rubbish to a drop off point. In rural areas this may be applied to all homes, particularly in very small towns where curbside collections are not cost effective. Curbside collections often include recycling as there are many programmes in operation throughout the country for various types of recycling such as green garden waste, plastics, paper and glass.

The number of items which can be recycled is being added to each year as new technologies and facilities are being introduced across the country. Households are informed when changes are made to the systems.

Cities such as Toronto offer collections for other items which should not be sent to landfill sites. These include electrical goods and household furniture as well as fixtures and fittings such as old bathroom suites. There are regular set collections for these items, so unlike in the UK you do not need to make an appointment to have these items collected. There are also measures in place to charge residents in some areas for the ‘non-recyclable’ waste that is removed in order to encourage recycling. The monies raised are to be used for other recycling and waste management programmes.

All areas have transfer stations, landfill sites and recycling operations. It is estimated that in 2009 the city of Toronto managed to divert nearly half of all waste from landfill as a direct result of the recycling programmes in place. Single family homes regularly recycle more than those who live in apartments, though this is mainly due to the accessibility of curbside collections as in some areas apartment buildings have limited facilities.

In some areas the recycling bins are still being rolled out to homes but there is a very high participation rate across the country where the services are available. The Canadian authorities have taken steps to encourage recycling by banning a number of items from landfill to encourage residents and businesses to recycle them. These include cardboard, electrical items, wooden pallets and tyres from vehicles. There are facilities in all areas for these items to be recycled.

If your area offers curbside collections then you should ensure that your bins are placed out by 7 am on the morning of collection as in many areas the rounds begin early. All areas have municipal refuse sites where you can take waste that will not fit in your bin. These are usually open during daylight hours in urban areas although more rural areas will probably have limited opening times. Residents should also be aware that rubbish which is not properly contained in the bins or bags supplied will not be collected and this is a policy across most of the country.

The landfill sites will also have facilities for recycling items which cannot be placed in the bins at your home. You may find that there are facilities for recycling batteries, mobile phones, engine oil, tins of paint, clothes and other textiles and timber. If you have items which are considered hazardous such as chemicals or fluorescent lights then the staff at the landfill sites are on hand to offer advice on their disposal. You may also find that supermarkets have facilities for recycling basics such as plastics and bottles.

There are also a number of programmes and schemes in place to harness the gas which is produced by landfill sites and use it to create electricity to power nearby homes. This has the additional effect of reducing odours which are produced at landfill sites and helps to prevent risk of explosion as well as reducing the damage caused to vegetation.

If you arrive at your new home in Canada and find that you have no bins or are missing one of the recycling containers then you simply need to call the waste management unit at your local authority and they will arrange for a new bin to be brought to you. There should not be a charge initially, although if you need extra bins or further replacements you may be charged.

Most urban areas are connected to a sewerage system but in rural areas many homes have private drainage and are connected to septic tanks. If you are in an urban area there is a charge from the water company and if your home is connected to a septic tank then you need to make arrangements yourself for emptying it.

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