Yard Waste

Yard Waste

Residents can place their yard waste in a brown paper yard waste bag or an open-top rigid reusable container with handles on opposite sides, clearly marked with City of Hamilton yard waste stickers. Blue boxes, cardboard boxes and green bins are not acceptable yard waste containers.

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Tour Hamilton's Landfill - Yard Waste Composting

Yard waste collection

Leaf and yard waste is picked up seasonally by a separate collection truck and may not be collected the same time as your blue boxes, green bin or garbage. Place all waste out for collection between 7 pm the night before and by 7 am on your collection day. Check your waste collection schedule.

Yard waste can also be taken to a Community Recycling Centre year-round. 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.

Acceptable yard waste itemsTied up branches with size recommendations

  • Branches, sticks, twigs and brush (bundled and 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 a Community Recycling Centre
  • Fallen fruit
  • Garden waste
  • Grass clippings
  • Plants
  • Pumpkins (decorations and candles removed)
  • No rocks, sod or soil. Noxious weeds such as Giant Hogweed should be placed in the garbage.

Yard waste bags and containers

Place your yard waste in a brown paper yard waste bag, bushel basket, or an open-top rigid reusable container.

Yard waste bagYard waste bags

  • Paper yard waste bags can be purchased from local stores
  • Roll bags shut at the top with no branches sticking out
  • Each bag must not weigh more than 50lb
  • Plastic bags filled with yard waste will not be collected


Yard waste container with dimensionsYard waste containers

  • Each container must be marked with City of Hamilton yard waste stickers
  • Acceptable containers must have handles on opposite sides and a separable lid
  • Remove bungee cords and ties used to secure lids before setting them out for collection
  • Each container must not weigh more than 50lb
  • The container size cannot be larger than 135L
  • Drill holes in the sides and bottom of the container to allow water to drain out

Yard waste stickers

Open-top rigid reusable containers used for yard waste collection must be clearly marked by affixing multiple yard waste stickers around each side of your container. Place the container at the curb with the sticker facing the street so it can be easily seen by the collector.

Do not place yard waste stickers on blue boxes, cardboard boxes or green bins.

City of Hamilton yard waste stickers are free of charge and can be picked up at the following locations:

yard waste sticker on bin

Yard waste stickers


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. Residents who don’t wish to leave their grass clippings on their lawns can place grass with their leaf and yard waste or take it to a Community Recycling Centre.

  • 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)

Christmas trees

Christmas trees are collected curbside the first and second week of January on your regular collection day.

  • Place trees curbside by 7 am only on your collection day. Trees should be clear of snow and ice and easily accessible for collection.
  • DO NOT place trees on top of or behind snow banks.
  • Remove all decorations (bulbs, lights, tinsel), stands and bags prior to collection.
  • Trees longer than 2.1 m (6.9 ft) should be cut in half.
  • Maximum of 5 trees will be collected
  • Real wreaths will be collected with natural Christmas trees. Remove all decorations before placing at the curb.

If you have a Christmas tree for disposal after the second week of January, you can bring your tree to a Community Recycling Centre for free.

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 [email protected] 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.