WhichBin Does It Go In? How to Reduce Recycling Contamination


With so many different types of materials and recycling laws that vary from city-to-city and province-to-province, recycling in Canada can get complicated. Which bin does it really go in?

It’s a lot of work to figure out what goes where, not to mention factoring in waste management during COVID-19. And all that effort can be easily undermined if your waste sorting skills aren’t up to par. One single wrong item in a recycling pile can contaminate the whole batch.

Properly sorting waste into the correct bins can reduce the amount of waste headed to the landfill, make a positive impact on the environment, and possibly save money.

We wanted to help you with this daily thankless task by introducing you to a little tool we call WhichBin, available on the GarbageDay app across Canada.

Your new recycling bestie: WhichBin

Reducing recycling contamination is a big deal if we really want the items we try to recycle to actually be recycled.

That’s where WhichBin comes in. This tool can help you become a waste sorting wizard — no acceptance to Hogwarts needed. Consider it your magic sorting hat, taking all of the confusion and guesswork out of recycling for common household items.

Recycling can be confusing, so WhichBin is there to help you identify whether or not something belongs in the garbage, recycling or organics bin, based on your specific municipal guidelines. 

But what about items that can’t be thrown into one of your household bins? WhichBin also notifies you when an item is hazardous waste, for example, and must be taken to your city’s drop-off depot. In this case, you can look into a recycling program that accepts difficult to get rid of items like Terracycle.

So, which bin does it go in?

Let’s play a little game of which bin does it go in. This way we can make sure acceptable items make it into the proper waste bin and end up at the recycling facility (assuming that’s where they go).

But before we start, we mention that where household waste goes varies from jurisdiction. So, to simplify things, we’ve made conclusions on the following items based on residents in Calgary.

It’s important to double check your local municipalities rules for recycling bins before tossing items in there. Luckily, WhichBin can help you sort it all out as it follows your specific city guidelines.


Wipes including baby wipes, wet wipes, cosmetic wipes, disinfectant wipes and other personal care products like cotton swabs, q-tips, dental floss, and condoms belong in your GARBAGE BIN. Even the ones that say things like “organic” on them. 

Because these items are used to remove contaminants like makeup or bodily fluids, they’re not appropriate for your compost bin. Many are also made of a combination of organic and synthetic fibres, meaning it might not break down properly.

You might have the inclination to flush some of these items down the toilet, but don’t give in! These items could clog your toilet, damage your pipes, and aren’t ideal to have hanging out in the general water supply.

Blue Cheese?

If you guessed your ORGANICS BIN, you’d be correct!

Cheese and dairy products like sour cream and yogurt belong in your compost bin or can even end up in your backyard composting. This also includes items like margarine, all types of butter (salted, non, flavoured), lard, and shortening. 

As a quick tip, it’s easier to put hard products into your bin, so if you have melted or soft butter, try throwing it in the fridge before adding it to the compost.


Recycling electronics can be a tad bit challenging, but you need to make sure you do it properly.

Your old Macbook or any type of laptop needs to make its way to an electronic recycling depot. It doesn’t belong in ANY bin. 

But before you toss it, make sure it doesn’t work. If it does, consider donating or selling it. It’s also worth pointing out that many companies (like Apple) will take your old device and give you store credit or recycle it on your behalf.


Candles are another tricky item that seem like they could be recyclable or maybe compostable, no? Definitely not. Old, unusable candles and candle wax need to make their way into your GARBAGE BIN.

However, if your candles are still usable, consider giving them away (especially if they’ve never been used). Used candles can be upcycled into new candles or other home decor items.

Travel-sized bottles?

You know those tiny bottles of shampoo and body wash that you cart along on your Mexico vacations? So long as they hold a plastic recycling symbol with any number between 1 and 7, they belong in your RECYCLING BIN.

Before you toss them in there, make sure you thoroughly clean them so you’re not adding non-recyclable material to the mix. You also need to remove the pumps and lids, which go in the garbage bin.

Tampons and pads?

Panty liners, tampons (including their applicators), and pads need to make their way into your GARBAGE BIN. These contain a mixture of material and bodily fluids, so they’re not safe to recycle or compost.

These items often get flushed down the toilet, but don’t do this! They can damage your drain pipes, and do you really want a used tampon floating around in the water supply? Gross, right?

Pet food?

Items like pet food, treats, catnip, rawhide, and any type of dog bone can safely go into your ORGANICS BIN for composting.

Yoga mat?

When it comes to getting rid of your yoga mat, you should probably try to sell or recycle it, pending its in good condition. But if it’s not, it needs to go into your GARBAGE BIN.

Old sports equipment like yoga mats, skates, inflatable pools, and golf clubs are often made of mixed materials and can’t easily be recycled.

Discover more with WhichBin

You’re already making a conscious effort to recycle, so it seems worth it to make sure you’re doing it correctly. You’d be surprised at the type of things that you can’t recycle, and it just takes a few more seconds to sort your waste properly and ensure less recyclable materials end up in landfills.

WhichBin makes sorting waste significantly easier. Download the free GarbageDay app so you can play a little game of which bin does it go in for yourself!

Download the GarbageDay app today!​

Never miss your local waste and recycling collection day again! GarbageDay helps keep you up-to-date on your city's collection schedule with timely reminders letting you know which bin to take out as well as tips and tricks to enjoy a more sustainable and eco-friendly home.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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