Top 5 weirdest things people try to recycle in Toronto

In partnership with

People put a lot of things into their Blue Bins that cannot be recycled, but some of it is just plain weird.

“Sometimes people unknowingly put the wrong stuff into the Blue Bins in hopes that something environmentally beneficial will happen with it,” said Jim McKay, General Manager of the City of Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services.

The weirdest item on record? “I heard about a large dead snake,” said McKay.

While it may be fun to joke about the funny or weird things that end up in the Blue Bin recycling program, waste contamination is no laughing matter for the City of Toronto.

“It’s pretty significant. We’re running right around 25% contamination and it’s increasing,” said McKay. “It is enough of an increase right now that it’s starting to concern us.”

Story continues below advertisement

Extracting those wrong items and contaminants from the recycling stream costs the city a lot of money.

“It’s expensive for Toronto. If we can reduce the level of contamination to 20%, which is still fairly high, it would save the city, on average, nearly $2 million a year,” noted McKay.

“It’s a pretty significant savings that could be achieved and that gets translated right back to the residents who are paying for these services.”

So what are some of the weirder (and wrong) items that regularly end up in the city’s Blue Bin recycling program? McKay lists the following:

1.  Garden hoses 

“We see a lot of garden hoses in the Blue Bins,” said McKay, but they are actually quite hazardous for the recycling facility because they can get caught up in the machinery, causing heavy damage and forcing the facility to shut everything down until it’s fixed.


2. Bathtubs and sinks

They say people throw out everything, but the kitchen sink. Well, it turns out people throw those out also. Because they are mostly made out of metal, people think they can be recycled, but they cannot be. “We see that kind of thing quite regularly,” said McKay.

Story continues below advertisement

3. Car bumpers

Both metal and plastic car bumpers are constantly being tossed into the Blue Bin as people automatically assume they are recyclable because of the material they are made from. McKay reminds us that they aren’t.

Honda bolsters Fit to boost crash resistance

4. Metal dumbbells

No one is sure if it’s buff people who no longer want their weights or if people are just giving up on exercise, but old dumbbells are ending up in the recycling bins all the time.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think people think that because they’re steel, there’s an option to recycle through the Blue Bin,” said McKay. Give them away instead to someone who can use them.

Hitting the gym is just one way to get fit in 2015.

5. Bowling balls

“It happens more than you would think. It’s kind of like wish-cycling. If they put a bowling ball in there they hope that someone will find it and give it a new home,” said McKay. Consider donating them instead.

If you’ve got something weird to throw out and aren’t sure if it’s recyclable or want to know how to properly dispose of it, go online to and check the Waste Wizard to find the answer. You can also check your recycling calendar or call 311.

Story continues below advertisement