Curbside Collections FAQ

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Waste Sorting Help

  • Help! I don't know what goes where!

    We’re here to help you sort your materials with ease. There are several tools to help residents know what goes where. Information is updated on an ongoing basis to keep up with the ever-changing recycling guidelines. Check out these resources for the latest waste sorting information:

    • What Goes Where: This 4-page guide contains useful tips and information to help residents better sort materials and divert more waste from the Squamish Landfill. Download the guide and place it near your household bins for quick reference.
    • Waste Wizard: The Waste Wizard look-up tool is an easy way to search for how to sort an item that you’re unsure of. Simply enter the name of the material for recycling or disposal options, and if it’s not there, let us know and we’ll be sure to add it. You can access the tool on our website or by downloading the free Squamish Curbside Collection app.
    • Recycle BC: View our recycling partner’s list of accepted materials here.
    • Other Flexible Packaging: Other Flexible Packaging is a new category of recyclable packaging types that includes zipper-lock pouches, net bags, and bags for food items such as frozen berries, coffee and chips. Other Flexible Packaging can be brought to London Drugs or the Queensway Recycle Depot (GFL) for recycling. You can find a list of accepted materials here.

     

  • How do I know what week of collection it is?

    Need help remembering your collection day? Enter your address here for your curbside collection day, and sign up for weekly reminders via email, app or phone. You can also print your own calendar, or sync your collection schedule with your personal electronic calendar.

Garbage Totes

  • How do I know what size I will need?
    Tote Size Tote Volume Tote Capacity
    Small 132 litres/ 35 gallons 1 to 2 standard sized (75L) garbage bags
    Medium* 246 litres/ 65 gallons 2 to 3 standard sized (75L) garbage bags
    Large 356 litres/ 95 gallons 4 to 5 standard sized (75L) garbage bags

    *A medium sized garbage tote is the same size as the curbside recycling tote.

  • When and how can I exchange my garbage tote for a new size?

    Garbage tote sizes are changed once a year. You can request a larger or smaller tote online via the Garbage Tote Size Selection page or in person at Municipal Hall. The exchange of your garbage tote will occur in February or March of the following year and your solid waste utility fees will be updated for that calendar year. 

  • I’ve moved into a new house and the garbage tote here isn’t large enough, what can I do?

    If you have recently moved and the existing garbage tote isn’t large enough for your needs, the District can provide you with a mid-year size increase. Please visit Municipal Hall to arrange for this size increase as well as to pay the resulting difference in your solid waste utility fees. Please ensure you bring a copy of your BC Land Title.

  • Can I opt out of curbside pick-up?

    It is not possible for individual residences to opt out of any portion of the District's solid waste services. The solid waste fees reflect the cost of all solid waste services provided by the District including collection and processing of materials, staff time, and communications; there is no opportunity to break down the fees into their component parts. Whole townhouse complexes do have the option of receiving service directly from a commercial provider. Please contact the District if you would like to receive more information about this option. 

  • Why have the garbage tote prices increased?

    Fees have increased due to the investment required to provide a solution to the lack of space in the Squamish landfill. Residents who produce more garbage, and require a larger tote, pay higher Solid Waste Utility fees. The District of Squamish has developed a Zero Waste Strategy with the goal of achieving a waste diversion rate of 80% by 2021. A key element of that is to incentivize and provide options for residents to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost more in order to reduce the amount of garbage created per person.

     

  • Are secondary suites required to have individual garbage service?

    Home owners with secondary suites can choose to cancel their garbage service for the secondary suite only.  The District expects that tenants in secondary suites would then use the main (single family home) garbage/recycling/organics totes for their secondary suite. 

Organics Totes

  • What is the organics collection program?

    The District of Squamish provides residential curbside organics collection for single-family houses, duplexes and some townhouses through a contract with GFL Environmental. Organics collection is offered weekly from the end of April to the end of October. Townhouse and apartment complexes that receive commercial waste collection should contact their collection provider to discuss options for organics collection.

  • Where can I deposit excess organics or recycling?
    • If you have excess leaves and grass clippings that won't fit in your organics tote, you can bring it to the Squamish Landfill. Please note charges will apply (see squamish.ca/landfill for details).
  • Why collect organics?

    Organic waste accounts for nearly 45% of all garbage, yet it is a reusable resource and a large contributor to climate change when in the landfill. When food waste is buried in a landfill it breaks down very slowly and without the presence of oxygen. When this happens, methane gas is produced, which is a greenhouse gas that is around 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Collecting organic material separately from garbage helps to extend the life of the landfill, limit greenhouse gas production from the landfill, and produce a valuable soil amendment.

  • Can I choose not to use an organics tote?

    All residents in Squamish are required to separate garbage, recycling and organic material and dispose them through appropriate means. If you prefer to use alternative ways of managing your organic material, for example by composting at home or dropping it off at the Queensway Recycle Depot, you can choose not to use your organics tote, however your Solid Waste Utility fee will remain the same.

  • How does organics collection work?

    Organics collection is as easy as 1-2-3:

     

     

    1. Collect food scraps and food soiled paper in your kitchen container. You can line your kitchen container with newspaper or paper bags, or use it on its own. Plastic bags of any type are not permitted in your organics tote.
    2. Empty your kitchen container into your organics tote and layer with yard waste or newspaper if desired. We recommend rinse your kitchen catcher regularly.
    3. Place your unlocked organics totes curbside by 7:45 a.m. on your collection day. Your organics tote will be collected bi-weekly, year round, on the same day as your recycling tote, and will be collected weekly between the end of April to the end of October. 
  • Won’t organics collection attract wildlife?

    Just like your garbage tote, the organics tote has the potential to attract bears and other wildlife. The District of Squamish Wildlife Attractant Bylaw requires that animal attractants be inaccessible to wildlife. The organics tote is outfitted with a locking system and reinforced lid. The tote should be properly locked with both locks at all times, except on collection day. If your tote has been damaged by wildlife or the locking mechanism is not working, contact GFL Environmental for a free repair at 604.892.5604 or squamishtotes@gflenv.com.

     

  • How can I reduce odour and help prevent wildlife encounters?

    Follow these tips and best practices to help minimize odour:

    • Wrapping your food scraps in newspaper or paper bags helps to reduce odours and keep your organics tote and kitchen catcher clean. 
    • If possible, keep meat, fish and bones in your freezer or fridge until collection day.
    • Cover and layer food scraps with yard waste or newspaper in your organics tote whenever possible. 
    • When your organics tote is emptied, put a layer of newspaper in the bottom before you put food waste in it, or use a large yard waste bag to line your organics tote if desired.
    • Allow grass clippings and leaves to dry before placing them in the tote.
    • Sometimes maggots (fly larva) grow in organic material. To reduce this problem make sure that both your kitchen catcher and organics totes are tightly closed at all times so that flies cannot lay eggs in your organic material. If you do see maggots in your tote, they can be destroyed by putting salt or vinegar directly on them.  
    • Rinse your kitchen catcher and tote regularly. You can use a mild detergent or vinegar/water solution for this purpose or put it through the dishwasher.
    • If your tote has been damaged by wildlife or the locking mechanism is not working, contact GFL Environmental for a free repair at 604.892.5604 or squamishtotes@gflenv.com.
  • Can I put plastic bags in my organics tote?

    Plastic bags are not permitted in the green totes. This applies to all types of plastic bags including biodegradable and compostable bags. Municipalities that have allowed compostable plastic bags in their organics programs report higher levels of contamination from all types of plastic, and the non-compostable plastics are much harder for the compost facility to identify and sort out. Paper bags, newspaper, or specially designed paper kitchen catcher liners (e.g. Bag to Earth) are an acceptable alternative.

     

  • Can I get a larger/smaller organics tote?

    Due to our current residential contract with GFL Environmental and inventory reasons, small-sized organics totes are available for townhouse residents only. Medium-sized organics totes are available for residents in single-family homes. 

  • I have more yard waste that I can fit into my organics tote – what are my options?
    • Backyard composting is an effective way to manage much of your yard waste.
    • Yard waste can be dropped off at the Squamish Landfill public depot for a fee. Often small residential loads come in at the $5 minimum charge.
    • If you have a large property, you can stockpile your yard waste through the growing season and slowly put it out for collection over the winter.
    • Connect with your neighbours as they may have spare room in their organics tote.
    • Backyard burning is not permitted. Please see Squamish Fire Rescue's Open Air Burning page for more information.

     

Recycling Totes

  • Can I get a larger/smaller recycling tote?

    At this time, the District only provides the medium sized recycling totes as part of the residential curbside collection program. Residents may contact GFL Environmental directly to inquire about additional services (extra pick-ups or larger totes) at 604.892.5604.

  • What can I do if my recycling tote gets full before collection day?

    Recycling, when it occasionally overloads your tote, can always be taken directly to the Landfill (open seven days a week), or the Queensway Recycle Centre (open Monday through Saturday). Drop-off is free at both locations. Please remember to break down all boxes, which helps to provide more room in your recycling tote.

  • What is Recycle BC?

    Recycle BC is an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program responsible for recycling packaging and paper products from residential properties. Funded by businesses such as manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants, Recycle BC manages residential recycling for the majority of the province. To learn more about the organization, visit the Recycle BC website.

  • What are the changes to materials collected since joining Recycle BC?

    As a result of joining the Recycle BC residential packaging and paper recycling program as a collection partner, there are several materials that are now accepted in the residential recycling program:

    • Empty household aerosol cans (i.e. hairspray and air fresheners, but no paint or oil related products);
    • Frozen juice containers, frozen/microwavable containers and ice cream boxes;
    • Metal/paper containers such as coffee ground containers;
    • All gable-top cartons (i.e. parchment paper and milk cartons) and all aseptic boxes (i.e. soup and drink boxes);
    • Paper coffee cups and plastic lids;
    • Plastic plant pots and trays;
    • Gift wrap; 
    • Multi-layered pet food bags with plastic liners (no metal foil liners).

    For a comprehensive list, refer to our What Goes Where guide or visit the Recycle BC website.  

  • What numbers of plastic containers are accepted for recycling in Squamish?

    Any packaged product container is accepted in our curbside recycling program, including most of household containers for food, soap, cleaning products, and so on. There is no need to refer to a resin identification code as an indicator of whether or not a product is recyclable. 

    It's important to note that plastic items which are not considered packaging are not accepted in the recycling program. Examples of these items are plastic toys and Tupperware. If you are unsure about whether a particular item is accepted in the recycling program, simply enter the item in our Waste Wizard materials look-up tool for a list of disposal or recycling options. 

  • Why can’t soft plastics, plastic bags or film be put in the recycling tote?

    Film plastics, such as shopping bags and bread bags, can get caught up in other materials during the collection process thus making them difficult to separate. These materials can also get caught up in the processing equipment and therefore cause damage.

    Some local retailers, such as London Drugs, accept materials such as grocery bags and soft plastics for recycling. For a list of recycling options please refer to our What Goes Where guide. 

  • Why can't I put glass in my recycling tote?

    Glass can easily break during recycling collection which causes a hazard for collection staff. Broken glass can also contaminate an entire load of recyclables during the curbside collection process

    Most municipalities who offer glass collection offer it as a separate collection process. The District of Squamish has explored options of offering residential glass collection and it was deemed to be too expensive to offer. That being said, staff continue to explore options of collecting glass in Squamish.

  • What happens to glass in Squamish?

    Glass that is collected at the Queensway Recycle Centre and the Squamish Landfill is used as road aggregate at the landfill. It makes an excellent road base on top of garbage. As with all recyclables, glass must also be rinsed because it is stored in an area that is not fenced and could be accessed by wildlife. 

  • What happens to my curbside recycling?

    The District of Squamish curbside recycling collection is managed by Recycle BC, which is overseen by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. B.C. is a leader in residential recycling because the Recycle BC program uses rigorous audits and pre-approved end markets. The District of Squamish residential (blue tote/curbside pickup) recycling program is executed as follows:

    • The District of Squamish provides residential curbside collection through the blue tote program in partnership with Recycle BC and through a contract relationship with Green for Life Squamish (GFL).
    • The District is a partner in the Recycle BC program. Recycle BC manages residential recycling on behalf of municipalities for the majority of the province and is responsible for the processing of the recycling. The Recycle BC program is regulated by the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, is audited by a third party, and produces annual reports detailing its activities.
    • Recycle BC contracts GFL Squamish to collect residential curbside recycling and deliver it to Recycle BC pre-approved processing facilities. Currently, our residential plastic recycled products are recycled by Merlin Plastics.
    • GFL Squamish also maintains the recycle depots on Queensway and at the landfill, and collects items from residents that are unable to be collected through the co-mingled curbside pickup (such as glass, soft plastics, styrofoam and flexible plastics); these are also sent to Recycle BC approved processors.
    • Multi-family buildings and commercial businesses in Squamish maintain contracts with their own service providers to collect, haul and process their recycling.

    Find out more about where your recyclables go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=018fw3HbJ4c

  • What happens to other recyclables I drop-off?

    All of the items that you drop-off to be recycled are managed under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs. When you bring your item (smoke alarm, light bulbs, batteries, bottles, small appliances, electronics, etc.) to a depot, you are ensuring that the producer of that product is taking responsibility to have it responsibly recycled. Following is a list of the EPR programs in Squamish:

     

Questions about tote size changes

  • What is the cost to change my tote?

    For 2019, the flat fee tote change fee is $28.

    Solid Waste Utility fees cover all of the costs related to the curbside pickup of garbage and organics. Fees are based according to tote size to reflect the impact that more garbage has on our landfill. Residents will see a change in their annual Solid Waste Utility fee if they choose to change the size of their garbage tote.

    2018 fees by tote size (*2019 fees will be published following Council approval):

    Tote size 2018 Solid Waste Utility Fee
    Small  $195
    Medium $270
    Large $415
  • Why can't I exchange my recycling or organics tote?

    Due to our current residential contract with GFL Environmental and for inventory reasons, residents can only exchange their current garbage totes annually through the District of Squamish’s tote exchange process. 

    Residents who would like to upgrade their recycling tote from a 65 gallon tote (medium) to a 95 gallon tote (large) or arrange for a second recycling pick-up may do so by setting up an account directly with GFL Environmental. Please contact them at 604.892.5604 to inquire.

    If you have excess residential organic material, you drop it off for free at the Queensway Recycle Depot or Squamish Landfill. Additionally, weekly organics collection occurs annually between the end of April and end of October.

  • When will my new tote arrive?

    Garbage tote exchanges are anticipated to take place during the third week of March, 2019.

  • Why is my new tote taking so long to arrive?

    Small totes take longer to arrive because they ship from Germany before being fitted in Squamish with our bear-resistant lock system. Medium and large totes ship from within North America and therefore arrive sooner. 

  • Will I have a higher utility bill if I exchange my garbage tote?

    Solid Waste Utility fees are determined by the amount of garbage produced. If you increase the size of your garbage tote, your Solid Waste Utility fee will also increase. If you decrease the size of your garbage tote, your Solid Waste Utility fee will also decrease.

  • My tote has been damaged by wildlife. How can I fix it?

    If your tote has been damaged by wildlife, please contact GFL Environmental for a free repair or replacement at squamishtotes@gflenv.com or 604.892.5604.