Yard Waste

 

Leaf and yard waste, including grass clippings, will no longer be accepted in green bins

Image of waste containersEffective April 1, 2019 Leaf and yard waste, including grass clippings are no longer accepted in green bins. The Central Composting Facility voluntarily closed in June 2018 to address odour concerns. To assist in re-starting the facility and stay within the new reduced capacity, the City is asking residents to stop using their green bin for leaf and yard waste including grass clippings.

Place all yard waste, including grass clippings, in a brown paper yard waste bag or an open top rigid reusable container marked with a free yard waste sticker. Yard waste stickers cannot be placed on green bins or blue boxes.

Green bins should only be used for food scraps and soiled paper products like napkins and pizza boxes. Learn more about what goes in the green bin.

Residents can put out an unlimited amount of leaf and yard waste each week alongside their garbage, recycling and green bins. Given our collection crews use different trucks to collect different materials at varying times during the day, all materials should be at the curb before 7 am on collection day to ensure residents don’t miss one of the trucks.

Yard waste includes natural things that decompose or breakdown to become compost. Residents should place their yard waste in a brown paper bag, or other open top rigid reusable container, preferably marked with a City of Hamilton yard waste sticker. Leaf and yard waste is taken to an outdoor facility where it is turned into compost.

Residents can pick up City of Hamilton yard waste stickers at any Municipal Service Centre or Recreation Centre.

Large loads of yard waste can be taken to a Community Recycling Centre. There is no cost to drop off yard waste at a Community Recycling Centre for residents of Hamilton if it comes from your home. There is a cost if the yard waste comes from a business.

The City encourages residents to leave their grass clippings on their lawns to reduce the amount of grass being picked up at the curb, and provide food and nutrients to worms and grass. Read more on Grasscycling below. Residents who don’t wish to leave their grass clippings on their lawns can place grass with their leaf and yard waste.

Learn about what goes in yard waste

Tour Hamilton's Landfill - Yard Waste Composting

Get tips, schedules and learn what goes where.
Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Yard waste tips

  • Put yard waste in a brown/kraft paper bag, bushel basket, or other open top rigid reusable container, preferably marked with a City of Hamilton yard waste sticker.
  • Acceptable open top rigid reusable containers must have handles on opposite sides of the container with no affixed lid. The container size cannot be larger than 135L and when filled cannot exceed 50 lbs.
  • Drill holes into the sides and bottom of your open top rigid reusable containers to allow drainage and air circulation. Remove lid before placing out for collection.
  • Cardboard boxes, recycling boxes and green bins are NOT acceptable containers for leaf and yard waste including grass.
  • Paper yard waste bags, can be purchased from local stores. 
  • Roll down the tops of your yard waste bags to keep contents dry.
  • Use paper bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Brush should be tied in bundles no longer than 1.2m (4ft) and .75m (2.5ft) in diameter. Individual branches can’t be larger than 7cm (2.5in) in diameter.
  • Bundles (for brush & twigs) must be tied with string.
  • Do not put out branches that are more than 7 cm (or 2 ½ in) in diameter.  These can be dropped off at Community Recycling Centres.
  • Keep each bag or bundle or can of yard waste less than 23 kg (or 50 lbs).
  • Put your yard waste bags or cans a few feet away from your blue boxes and garbage bags or cans on the curb.
  • Do not let branches stick out of your yard waste bags.
  • Do not rake yard waste and leaves onto the roadway. These create dangerous driving conditions and clog up storm sewer catch basins.
  • Remove decorations and candles from pumpkins before placing with your yard waste. Cut large pumpkins into smaller pieces before placing in your yard waste bag/container.
  • Do not put your Christmas tree in a plastic bag. Remove lights, tinsel and ornaments from your Christmas tree.

 

Yard waste stickers

At this time, please discard of your yard waste in paper yard waste bags or other clearly marked open-top reusable rigid container instead of the green bin. City of Hamilton yard waste stickers for yard waste containers can be picked up at Municipal Service Centres or Recreation/Community Centres (excluding arenas).

Do not place yard waste stickers on Blue Boxes or Green Bins.

Yard waste bag and bin

Grasscycling

  • Grasscycling does not cause 'thatch'. Thatch is a tight layer of stems and roots that is found between the growing grass and the soil surface. Thatch is not caused by the blade clippings from grasscycling.
  • Grasscycling does not spread lawn disease. Watering, fertilization and mower blade sharpness affect lawn disease more than grasscycling.
  • Grass clippings provide food for worms. Worms are healthy for your lawn and naturally aerate your soil.
  • Grasscycling should not leave ugly looking grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings can not be seen if your lawn is cut properly. Most people who grasscycle find that their clippings disappear within three days after cutting their lawn.
  • Leaving grass clippings on your lawn does not make the grass turn brown. Grass clippings add nutrients back into the soil to help make your lawn healthy and green.
  • Cut your grass often. During the spring and early summer you should cut your grass every four to five days. When growth is slower in the late summer and fall you can cut your grass about once per week.
  • Don't cut grass more than one third of its height. No more than 2.5 cm (or one in) should be cut at any one time. If the grass is long, cut off a little bit and then lower the blade and cut off a little bit more rather cutting it all off at once.
  • Make sure your lawnmower blade is sharp.
  • Keep the blade height of your mower at about 6 to 7.5 cm (or 2 ½ to 3 in).
  • Grasscycling works best when the grass is dry. Cutting wet grass or taking too much off at one time can cause grass clumping. If you get a bit of clumping, try mowing the area again from a different direction to break up the clumps.
  • Leaves take longer to break down than grass clippings. You can rake and collect your leaves and put them in a paper yard waste bag for collection. Leaves can also be used as mulch in other parts of your garden. 
  • Grass clippings are  great for your backyard composter. Don't add too many at once because they can become smelly. Allow them to dry in the sun and then add them into your composter in thin layers.

If you see a bright orange “oops! Sticker” on your yard waste bag or can after the collection truck has come by, it means there are items in your yard waste that don’t belong.

You will get an Oops! sticker if you put these things with your yard waste:

  • Artificial trees and plants
  • Dirt
  • Rocks
  • Sod
  • Tree stumps
  • Wood (lumber)

2019 Scheduled yard waste drop off dates:

  • May 4
  • May 18
  • June 1
  • October 26
  • November 9
  • November 23

Residents are responsible for emptying yard waste from containers, vehicles and trailers into the designated area. Please bring assistance and/or the appropriate tools if required.

Why is grass and other yard waste no longer accepted in the Green Bin program?
When we separate grass and leaf and yard waste from organic waste (food scraps, soiled paper products), we help stay within the processing capacity of the CCF and help reduce the potential of creating ammonia, therefore maintaining good air quality at the CCF.

What happens to my grass and other yard waste when collected as leaf and yard? Where is it taken?
Grass and leaf and yard waste can be made into compost more naturally and for less money at Hamilton’s separate outdoor composting facility located at the Glanbrook Landfill.

Can I use my green bin or blue box as a yard waste container?
No. Multiple trucks collect each material and take them to separate locations. The contents in the green bin will be taken to the CCF and blue box material is taken to the Material Recycling Facility (MRF). Grass and other yard waste, when sorted correctly in a separate brown paper bag or open top rigid reusable container, is taken to the City’s outdoor composting facility at Glanbrook Landfill. Green bins are for food scraps and soiled paper products and this is how our collectors can easily identify what goes where when they are out collecting your waste.

How do I dispose of my yard waste including grass?

  • Grass and leaf and yard waste should go in a brown paper bag or in an open top rigid reusable container marked with a City of Hamilton yard waste sticker.
  • Drill holes into the sides and bottom of your rigid open-top reusable containers to allow drainage and air circulation. Remove lid before placing out for collection.
  • Your recycling and waste calendar included a yard waste sticker in the envelope. You can also pick up a free leaf and yard waste sticker at any Hamilton Recreation Centre or Municipal Service Centre.
  • Another option is to try grasscycling by leaving your grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings provide food for worms, which will naturally aerate your soil. They add nutrients back into the soil to help make your lawn healthy and green.

When and why did the CCF shut down?
On June 24, 2018, the City stopped accepting green bin material at the CCF and began the process of a voluntary and temporary shutdown of the operations in response to odour complaints.

What caused the odours?
The City and its operations contractor have completed their investigations into the causes of the odour experienced in June 2018. Both the City and its operations contractor have submitted these investigative findings to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) for review.

How long was the CCF closed?
The CCF was closed for approximately seven months. The CCF stopped accepting green bin material on June 24, 2018 restarted operations on February 4, 2019.

How much green bin material will the CCF be processing now that operations have restarted? Is it the same amount as before the shut down?
The initial start-up of the CCF is limited to approximately 20,000-annual tonnes, which is down by 66% from the 60,000 annual tonnes the facility was processing in the summer of 2018.

Initially, the CCF will operate under limited capacity, but following the approval of the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) amendment, and the installation of capital upgrades, the CCF will be able to operate at an annual processing capacity of 40,000 tonnes.

How can the City be sure the issues with the CCF have been resolved?
To restart the CCF, the City and its operator have made a number of improvements and adjustments to the operations and site procedures including:

  • Reducing the process capacity of the CCF to one third the original design
  • Accepting and processing only green bin material from the City of Hamilton and not from other municipalities
  • Eliminating the use of the curing building and curing compost either in the main processing building or offsite at a third-party processor
  • Temporarily banning grass and leaf and yard waste in the Green Bin program staring in April 1, 2019
  • Additional operational performance monitoring including implementation and monitoring of additional key performance indicators
  • Hiring a third-party company to patrol the surrounding neighbourhoods for air quality impacts

What can I do if I believe I can smell the compost facility?
Residents looking for more information about the re-opening of the CCF or who would like to report a concern about air quality in their neighbourhood related to the CCF can contact the City at ccfhamilton@hamilton.ca or at 905-546-2489.

What is the City doing moving forward to ensure that the odours won’t return?
Moving forward, the City will be upgrading the equipment in the CCF. The City’s recommended plans for these upgrades were submitted to the MECP for review and approval. The following upgrades will be made to the CCF:

  • Installation of an acid scrubber to assist in the removal of ammonia generated by the composting process;
  • Extension of the bio-filter exhaust stack from 30 metres to 50 metres; and
  • Installation of a carbon filtration system to assist with the treatment of odours.

How can I help ensure the CCF is operational and not causing odours?
To assist in re-starting the facility, the City is asking residents to stop using their green bin for leaf and yard waste including grass clippings. Removing grass and leaf and yard waste will help green bin material turn into compost more efficiently. Leaf and yard waste can be made into compost more naturally and for less money at Hamilton’s separate outdoor composting area.

Residents can also help by placing acceptable materials into the green bin, which help reduce contamination.