Keep the Environment Free of Recycling Litter on Windy Days

Weather…it happens. And if you live in Halton it is fair to say that we get and see it all. It may be due to the Niagara Escarpment or the big body of water we call Lake Ontario. It may also be a combination of both.

Newspaper blows down a residential street on a windy day

A windy day can create litter. Notice how some Blue Boxes are still standing neat and tidy? They were packed properly, preventing Blue Box litter.

So what does any of this have to do with waste? Plenty.

On those windy days Halton receives many calls from residents regarding litter and debris that has blown out of their neighbour’s Blue Box. Waste Management staff are asked to make the litter stop somehow. So what can we do about it? What are the options?

We have looked at putting a “lid on it.” However, adding a lid to a Blue Box can result in the lid being blown away and can slow down the collectors as they have to remove lids from each home. Same thing can happen with nets. Switching to new recycling carts with lids would be costly — imagine the cost of distributing new carts to 150,000 households, and adding new collection vehicles that can service the carts. Plus, where would these households store their larger cart?

A clear bag filled with recycling blows away on a windy day.

A clear bag filled with recycling blows away on a windy day.

We have also been asked to allow the use of plastic bags. Yes, plastic bags are convenient (even though they tend to blow away on windy days) and are easier for crews to collect.

The problem occurs at the recycling facility. Additional equipment and labour would be required to break open plastic bags and separate the bags from the acceptable recyclable material. Due to its nature, plastic bags become easily caught in the equipment leading to breakdowns and stoppages, plus plastic bags also adhere (static cling) to metal and glass becoming difficult to separate, which degrades the quality and value of those products.

Using plastic bags for your recycling has a profound impact on the Waste Management program and the delivery of service. Not to mention, there’s an economic cost to buying all of these single-use bags which end up in the garbage creating more waste!

Stacked newspaper tied with stringNot all is lost. Each of us has the ability to take proactive measures that are relatively easy and cheap to minimize litter on windy days.

Most residents of Halton receive a newspaper delivered to the front door. Why not use some string to bundle and tie your newspapers, magazines, and fine paper together and place them on the top of the other items in your Blue Box. You will find that bundled and tied newspaper makes for a very good lid. How difficult is that?  You can also place your Blue Box on top of one another. Remember, you don’t need to separate your papers and containers before placing them in the Blue Box.  Fill the bottom with light material and the top with heavier material.

Each household in Halton can pick up an additional Blue Box at no charge once a year. If you generate a lot of recyclable material, take a little time to pick up an extra Blue Box — it is definitely worth it!

Halton residents are champion recyclers. Did you know 94% of residents are participating in the Blue Box program weekly?

The bottom line is this — when it comes to the weather and waste diversion, please, take a little extra time to prevent litter on windy days. Your neighbours will appreciate it.

If you have some additional tips on how you prevent litter on windy days, feel free to share them with me.

About this guest blogger:

David Miles
Guest Blogger

I’m David Miles, the Manager of Waste Planning and Collection for Halton Region. Some call me the Chief Problem Solver. I am very proud of the success of our waste diversion programs in Halton and applaud the extra efforts of Halton residents and waste management staff who make it happen.

This entry was posted in Blue Box, Businesses, Green Living, Houses, Recycle, Schools and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Keep the Environment Free of Recycling Litter on Windy Days

  1. Pingback: Keep the Environment Free of Recycling Litter on Windy Days … |

  2. Shawn says:

    We don’t get news papers, and we already have two blue boxes. Now that you stopped picking up the blue recycling bags at the curb we have had to start puting out two to three more bags of “garbage” instead of recycling.


  3. Hi Shawn:

    Thanks for your comment. You can place out as many Blue Boxes as you need to. In your garage, a Blue Box would have the same “footprint” as a filled bag. Using a Blue Box instead of a bag will help reduce contamination, and therefore costs. You can pick up a free Blue Box at a number of locations:

    – John Watson, Waste Diversion Education Coordinator, Halton Region

  4. Steve Onland says:

    Hi John: I would love to help your community combat the number one problem with the current blue box and entire curbside recycling system. I have a product that has a very promising future to all municipalities and homeowners that keeps all garbage and recycling containers in the upright position both before and after pickup. I am currently searching for municipalities that are interested in offering a pilot program to residents, this program may also be funded to each municipality through the Continuous Improvement Fund. If this is of interst to you and your community please contact us for more info at or facebook a request to The BinPad Products.

  5. John Watson says:

    Hi Steve:

    Thanks for your comment. Halton Region is always interested in learning more about the different waste management tools potentially entering the marketplace. Feel free to share the information with us,


    – John Watson, Waste Diversion Education Coordinator, Halton Region

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