Direct Energy Center exceeds city mandate

Single container lets Canada’s largest convention center manage all recyclables and compost

Direct Energy Centre-resized


Direct Energy Centre in Toronto is Canada’s largest facility for conventions, exhibitions and events. With more than one million square feet of space and millions of visitors – most of whom are in hurry-up mode. In 2002, when the city of Toronto mandated a diversion rate of 70% over the next eight years, The Centre was only collecting bottles and cans. They had to develop a long term plan to achieve the mandated diversion rate by 2010.


Direct Energy Centre partnered with CleanRiver to supply recycling containers, creative graphics, and program consultation tailored to specific waste stream management requirements. “Initially, we liked that their containers are made of recycled material,” says Mike DiMaso, Senior Facility Coordinator. “They have helped with new products, graphics, and strategic advice that make our recycling program work even better.”

One key to successfully managing such a complex waste stream is the Excel Series recycling bin. Constructed with long-lasting recycled plastic HDPE lumber, these containers feature sturdy 2-in. by 2-in. post-and-panel construction that conceals four rigid liners to provide the volume capacity required. Each of the four containers is labeled as to which materials it accepts and uses a specific restricted opening to maximize efficiency and minimize waste stream cross-contamination.

“Even with a fairly complex four-stream process, the CleanRiver containers give people very clear options so they can do what is right and recycle,” says DiMaso.

A critical component of success is the graphic labeling. Direct Energy Centre works closely with CleanRiver’s design team to create the most effective signage. “Because we have a multi-cultural, multi-lingual clientele, we like to use photos to show exactly what goes where,” DiMaso explains. “We know this works because there has been a demonstrable reduction in contamination of the waste stream.”


The Centre has implemented a highly successful recycling program with a waste diversion rate of almost 85%.

The concession stands have embraced organic recycling with compostable hot and cold cups, lids and straws, plates, napkins, utensils, and salad and sandwich packaging. In addition to organics and compostable materials, the waste stream in public areas includes bottles and cans, paper and trash. “This is what visitors have and what they need to get rid of,” DiMaso explains.

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