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The Town of Whitby improves Recycling Program

“Sort it Right” – Public Spaces Recycling Adds to Whitby’s Waste Diversion Program


Whitby residents recycle and compost using blue boxes and green bins. The town needed a program that offered additional opportunities to minimize the waste going to landfill to improve diversion rates from public spaces and facilities. While there was high interest in developing a program, Whitby needed to find the appropriate funding to make it happen.

Whitby sought to better understand what was needed through an online survey. Research respondents viewed a series of options and selected signage that provided individual, real-life, color illustrations of the materials to be placed in each bin and included a brief reference to materials not accepted. The chief goal is to reduce contamination levels that are frequently common in public space recycling.


The Town of Whitby launched its “Sort it Right” waste minimization program unveiling new bins in public spaces sporting four compartments; one each for recyclable containers, recyclable papers, green bin organics and waste residue. The “Sort it Right” theme, the promotion materials and the bin instructional signage were developed using input from the public and users of the facilities.

Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) Manager, Mike Birett, credited Whitby’s Public Works Operational Services for working with suppliers to develop the four-compartment bin and the promotion and education materials.

The CIF’s funding support amounted to $50,000. Generally grants for public space projects are not available from CIF because public space recycling is not included in Waste Diversion Ontario’s definition of residential Blue Box recycling. However, due to the high level of municipal interest in this area of recycling, CIF agreed to assist Whitby’s project with a goal of contributing to a greater understanding of public space recycling best practices.

Whitby’s Public Works Director, Suzanne Beale, thanked the CIF for helping to make it possible for the town to initiate this program.

“CIF’s help meant Whitby could expend more time and energy in assessing the bin options and in developing ‘best practice’ P&E materials. It is our hope that other municipalities looking at adding a public space component to their waste diversion programs will find our bin assessment and the P&E materials useful,” she said.


Whitby has now deployed 31 “Sort it Right” bins. It will conduct waste audits in the fall to measure against audit results conducted when only the single blue recycling bin was in place. In 2010, town facilities generated about 300 tonnes of waste. An audit showed that the garbage stream comprised mostly fast food packaging.