Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


The Basics

What is automated curbside collection?

An automated collection truck equipped with a mechanical arm is used to pick up standardized, wheeled carts to empty the material into the truck. Similar to the manual collection service, you are responsible for storing the carts and wheeling them to the street by 8 AM on your scheduled collection day.

What are the benefits of automated curbside collection service?

The new service will provide RDN residents with the following:

1. Improved service offerings:

  • Customizable collection cart sizes to best suit your household needs
  • No weight restrictions
  • Improved worker health and safety
  • Improved neighbourhood esthetics by keeping materials contained
  • Reduced human-wildlife interactions

2. Easy-to-roll carts with attached lids for convenient and efficient disposal of recyclables, food waste and garbage

3. Real-time information for better customer service

How I do I know if I am part of the new automated curbside collection service?

The new automated curbside collection service will be provided to all RDN residential single family dwellings in the following communities (with the exception of City of Nanaimo residents who are serviced by the City of Nanaimo Public Works) that currently receive manual curbside collection service of garbage, recycling and food waste from the RDN:

  • Area A - Cassidy, Cedar, Yellowpoint, South Wellington
  • Area B - Gabriola
  • Area C - Extension, Arrowsmith-Benson, East Wellington, Pleasant Valley
  • Area E - Nanoose Bay
  • Area F - Coombs, Hilliers, Errington
  • Area G - French Creek, Dashwood, Englishman River
  • Area H - Shaw Hill, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay, Bowser
  • District of Lantzville
  • City of Parksville
  • Town of Qualicum Beach
  • Snaw-Naw-As First Nation

Click here for the online RDN Utilities Property Information Map(External link)

Why are multi-family buildings not part of the RDN service?

Pursuant to Recycling and Compulsory Collection Local Service Establishment Bylaw No. 793, the RDN is authorized to provide for the collection of residential waste from single family dwelling units only. However, this is currently being addressed under the RDN Solid Waste Management Plan.

There are two proposals in the RDN Solid Waste Management Plan aimed at building the business of diversion that are key to the multi-family sector:

  • Mandatory Waste Source Separation - All multi-family dwellings would be required to have a system to separate their waste into organics, recycling and garbage containers for collection. Collection would be done by an RDN Licensed Hauler or building managers could make their own arrangements.
  • Enlisting Licensed Waste Haulers as Partners - Businesses that haul waste for profit – usually the same companies who pick up waste from multi-family buildings--would be required to obtain a License. These Licensed Haulers would help ensure their multi-family customers have systems in place for separating and collecting organics, recycling and garbage

These two proposals would also be supported by enhancing education to help multi-family buildings set up their recycling programs if they don’t have one already or improving existing ones. These two proposals require authority from the Ministry of Environment which we are currently waiting on.

As we work toward our Zero Waste goal, the key will be to build on our successes to date. The Solid Waste Plan recommends a two-fold approach to help us improve service and extend the lifespan of our landfill:

  • Continue with ongoing programs such as school education, disposal bans, and recycling at RDN facilities
  • Introduce mandatory waste separation and collection so multi-family homes can benefit from the same programs as single family homes, such as recycling and food waste collection

Helping residents to make the right choices every day is critical to achieving Zero Waste. For that reason, the Solid Waste Management Plan will continue to build on the huge strides our community has made.

What is the collection frequency?

As with the manual curbside collection service, the food waste cart will be emptied every week, and the garbage and recycling carts will be emptied every two weeks on alternating weeks.

Will glass be included in the new automated curbside collection service?

No, glass collection will not be part of the new automated curbside collection service.

The collection of glass as part of the curbside collection service was taken into consideration during the Solid Waste Management Plan review and the 2018 curbside collection consultation.

The Recycle BC program requires the separation of glass from other recycled items. When glass is collected as part of the curbside program, the glass often breaks, contaminating the load and causes a hazard for our drivers and the workers at the sorting facility. If the load because contaminated with broken glass it may not be sorted through and may end up going to a landfill. Therefore, if glass is collected at curbside, it would need to be collected in a separate bin. When glass collection was still part of the curbside recycling program in the 2000s, it was determined that glass made up a very small portion of collected material. When considering glass collection, the Board measured the cost of separate glass bins and collection, weighing feedback from residents, and decided against collection due to the high costs relative to the amount of glass collected/recycled. 

Glass can be returned to many depot locations in the RDN. Use the What Goes Where to find the location closest to you. Deposit or refundable glass containers such as pop, juice, wine, beer, and liquor bottles should be returned to Return-It Centre for refund.

Is yard and garden waste part of the new automated curbside collection service?

Yard and garden waste is not accepted in the automated curbside collection service.

The inclusion of residential yard and garden waste as part of the curbside collection was considered as an option during the Solid Waste Management Plan review and the curbside collection contract procurement process.

Currently, most residents self-haul their yard and garden wastes to: 1) the Regional Landfill and the Church Road Transfer Station where the material is sent to Nanaimo Organic Waste for composting; 2) a number of private operated sites in the region where it is either composted or used as an industrial fuel; or 3) collected by a private hauling services. It is estimated that roughly 80% of yard and garden waste generated in the RDN is currently diverted from the landfill.

Based on recent consultation surveys, support for introducing yard and garden waste were varied and did not provide a clear distinction of preferred service by a majority of users. Those in support were largely based on increased convenience for those living in the member municipalities and higher density electoral areas. Ultimately, the Board decided not to include yard and garden waste collection as part of the RDN curbside collection service.

How many jobs will be lost due to the this transition from manual to automated curbside collection service?

None! No jobs will be lost as a result of the switch from manual to automated curbside collection service.

Under the manual collection system, the RDN contracts for a service that uses manual collection trucks, operated by a 1 person crew who drives, and manually lifts the containers from the ground to the truck hopper to tip the waste into the truck.

Automated collection trucks consist of an articulated arm used to retrieve standardized carts, operated by a 1 person crew who remains in the cab at all times.

The manual garbage collection process is very labour intensive; the collection crew lifts on average 12,000 lb (5.4 tonnes) per worker per garbage and food waste collection day. The primary sources of injury stems from repetitive motion injuries, slips and trips, and exposure to sharp objects and infectious diseases. The RDN joins cities like Nanaimo, Victoria, Surrey, Coquitlam and Richmond who have already opted to transition to automated collection service in effort to improve worker health and safety, and to reduce worker health and safety claims and associated costs.

Where do I get a curbside collection schedule?

Click here to view your collection calendar online.

Simplify your life with the "Get a Reminder!" feature and never miss a collection day again!  Download the RDN Curbside app to receive notification and alerts regarding your collection schedule

What is the RDN Curbside app?

The RDN Curbside app allows you to keep track of collection schedule and sign up for alerts regarding your collection schedule. The app also has a search feature called "What Goes Where?" for disposal options for hundreds of items. To download the app, go to Google Play or the App Store and search for "RDN Curbside". 

The Carts

What carts do I use for RDN curbside service?

Each RDN serviced household is assigned a set of wheeled carts to be used for collection:

  • a recycling cart (blue lid);
  • a food waste cart (green lid) with gravity lock; and
  • a garbage cart (black lid).

The carts are owned by the RDN's contractor, Waste Connections of Canada, and are assigned to the property using RFID and GPS technology.

Waste will not be collected if it is set out in containers that are not the RDN provided standardized carts.

How do I go about making a cart exchange?

You can exchange the cart via the Online Portal. A cart exchange administration fee of $50 per household will apply.

We ask for your patience it will take time to coordinate and fulfill exchange requests with Waste Connections during the initial roll-out.

Do I have to pay for the carts separately?

No, the cost of the carts is included as part of your annual curbside utility fee. The curbside collection utility fee, determined by the garbage cart size, covers the cost of delivering solid waste collection services, including the collection of the 3 waste streams, as well as cost of the carts, the cost of disposal and processing of the material collected in the carts.

What are the available cart sizes?

The annual curbside utility fee is determined by the garbage cart size. The default cart set is: 240L recycling, 100L food waste and 100L garbage. The 100L food waste cart is standard for all service levels. The utility fee will be the same for all three sizes of recycling carts (100L, 240L and 360L).

For more information, please refer to Schedule A of Bylaw 1802

How much does the carts hold?

The GARBAGE cart size are:

  • 80L (downsize option) - holds approximately 1 bag*
  • 100L (default cart size) - holds approximately 1.5 bags*
  • 240L (upsize option) - holds approximately 4 bags*
* standard 30 in X 38 in (76 cm X 96 cm) bag

The RECYCLING cart sizes are:

  • 100L (downsize option) - holds approximately 1.5 blue boxes**
  • 240L (default cart size) - holds approximately 4 blue boxes**
  • 360L (upsize option) - holds approximately 6 blue boxes**
** standard 19 in X 16 in X 13 in (48 cm X 40 cm X 31 cm) recycling box
What are the physical sizes of the carts?

What are the weights of the various cart sizes?
Cart size table
Cart Size Weight
80 L 20.5 lbs
100 L 22.0 lbs
240 L 30.1 lbs
360 L 35.0 lbs
Can I pick my cart sizes?

RDN residents had the opportunity to pick their desired cart sizes based on your household needs during the cart selection period between September and December 2019. If you do not select your preferred cart sizes during the cart selection period, you will receive a default set of carts: 240L recycling cart, 100L food waste cart and 100L garbage cart.

If you are moving into a new development, you will be provided a cart selection form upon issuance of Final Occupancy from the Building Department. Your preferred carts will be delivered directly to your property.

If you are moving into a resale home, please use the carts that are already at your new property. If the cart(s) at your new property do not meet your household disposal needs, you can exchange the cart via the Online Portal. If there are no carts at your new property when you move in, please contact the RDN via the Online Portal

If you are a tenant moving into a rental, please use the carts that are already at your new rental. If the cart(s) at your new rental do not meet your household disposal needs, please contact your landlord/ property owner. Only the landlord/ property owner is permitted to request a cart exchange.

What about secondary suites?

Households with secondary suites will automatically be upsized to 360L recycling, 100L food waste and 240L garbage carts, unless otherwise requested.

What Goes Where?

Not sure What Goes Where? Most packaging and paper are collected curbside or can be taken to depots for recycling. Download the RDN Curbside app or visit What Goes Where to use the "What Goes Where?" feature to search recycling options for hundreds of items.

What Goes Where

Why was the 100L cart determined as the standard size for garbage?

The new 100L garbage carts that you will be provided for the new automated curbside collection service is the same size permitted for the manual collection service. The 100L garbage limit was designed to best suit most single family dwellings' household disposal needs, and to encourage recycling and composting to reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill.

Can I downsize my garbage cart as I do not generate much waste?

Yes! You can downsize from the default 100L garbage cart to an 80L garbage cart if you deem the default 100L cart is too large for your household's disposal needs.

What can go in the food waste cart?

Materials accepted in the food waste cart include plate scrapings, meat, fish and poultry, bones, dairy products and wax-coated or paper products. These materials are generally unsuitable for home composting. A local composting facility converts the food waste into fertilizer and compost.

Using a food waste cart is an easy way to send less garbage to the landfill, turn food waste into a renewable resource and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste collection enhances home composting and complements recycling, providing a service that enables households to divert 70 percent of their waste from the landill.

For detailed information on acceptable materials and how to prepare them, please refer to the What Goes Where guide. Download the RDN Curbside app or visit What Goes Where to use the "What Goes Where?" feature to search recycling options for hundreds of items.

Why is the RDN providing such a large food waste cart if I can't put yard waste in it?

The new food waste cart for automated curbside collection is double the size of the food waste bin for manual curbside collection. The reasoning for the larger cart is to ensure the carts are compatible with the automated arms so they can be retrieved and emptied.

What is the gravity lock on the food waste cart?

Every food waste cart is equipped with a gravity lock. Even in the locked position (handle oriented in the vertical position), the new collection trucks will be able to open the lid when the food waste cart is tipped upside down in the 110 degree position. Keep your food waste cart locked at all times, including on collection day, to prevent wildlife interactions. 

What can go in the recycling cart?

Paper products and packaging (i.e. boxboard, cardboard, newspaper, mixed paper, magazines), metal and plastic containers are accepted in the RDN curbside recycling program. For detailed information on acceptable materials and how to prepare them, please refer to the What Goes Where guide. Download the RDN Curbside app or visit What Goes Where to use the "What Goes Where?" feature to search recycling options for hundreds of items.

Please note: the following items are not accepted in the curbside recycling collection and can be taken to a depot:

  • Soft plastic (plastic bags and plastic wrapping)
  • Household glass containers
  • Styrofoam packaging (cushion packaging and food trays)
Is there a limit on recycling?

As long as it fits inside your recycling cart, the material will be collected. Any reasonable amount of residential recycling will be collected under the RDN curbside collection program.

Is a 100L recycling cart available?

Yes! Based on feedback from a number of residents, the RDN provided a 100L recycling cart option in addition to the 240L and 360L recycling cart options. The 240L (default) and 350L recycling cart options are intended to allow for the storage of bulky items, as well as provide extra capacity for future recycling growth.

Please keep in mind, all recyclables must fit inside the cart with the lid closed for collection, including cardboard boxes and rigid plastic containers, as the drivers will not be getting out of the truck to pick up any extra material placed out of the carts. Please note, if you opt to downsize to the 100L recycling cart and choose to upgrade to a large cart in the future, a cart exchange fee will be applied.

Can I downsize my recycling cart?

The 240L (default) and 350L recycling cart options are intended to allow for the storage of bulky items, as well as provide extra capacity for future recycling growth. The default 240L cart size was determined to be the optimal size as it can accommodates today's recycling needs, while allowing for flexibility to meet future recycling demands.

Please keep in mind, all recyclables must fit inside the cart with the lid closed for collection, including cardboard boxes and rigid plastic containers, as the drivers will not be getting out of the truck to pick up any extra material placed out of the carts. Please note, if you opt to downsize to the 100L recycling cart and choose to upgrade to a large cart in the future, a cart exchange fee will be applied.

Why are soft plastics not permitted in the recycling cart?

Recycle BC does not permit soft plastics (i.e. bags) to be collected as part of the curbside collection program as it causes operation issues at the processing facilities.

Are bear proof carts available?

The RDN is home to a variety of wildlife, including raccoons and bears. The FOOD WASTE carts supplied to all RDN residents are equipped with gravity locks that automatically unlatch upon collection which cannot be easily opened by wildlife.

Residents will have the choice to upgrade to a more robust, WildSafeBC certified 240L bear-resistant cart at a one-time cost of $230 per cart, plus applicable annual waste processing cost.

For more information, please check out: bear-resistant cart. To request a bear-resistant cart, please contact the RDN via the Online Portal.

Can the bear resistant cart be used for the food waste and garbage streams?

The bear cart is intended for food waste to reduce the chance of attracting wildlife. Ideally, all food waste ends up in the green cart but we understand, in bear country, nothing is safe! If you deem it to be necessary for your area, the bear cart can be used for garbage as well. Please keep in mind, the bear proof cart is only available in the 240L cart size. The manufacturer does not supply this type of cart in a smaller size.

Will the residents own the carts?

The contractor will own and be responsible for the maintenance of the carts. The carts will be assigned to each household and will stay with the property. The carts will be equipped with identification tags to provide GPS location coordinates to the assigned address; therefore, it is important that the carts stay with the assigned property.

How I do differentiate my carts from my neighours?

All carts are identical, having the address on the carts will make it easy for you and your neighour to distinguish the carts. A unique serial number is stamped on the front of each cart. These numbers will identify your carts if they are lost. Record these numbers in the user guide that accompanied your cart delivery for future reference. Alternatively, you can write the your address on the address labels provided.

DO NOT write your address directly onto the cart as this will void the warranty.

If you find a cart that does not belong to your property, or if you cart is damaged or missing, call Waste Connections 1-866-999-8227.

What if my carts get damaged, lost or stolen?

If the cart is damaged as a result of manufacturer's defect, please contact the RDN via the Online Portal to have it serviced/replaced under the extended warranty. Please note, if your cart(s) is deemed to be damaged as a result of abuse, you may be responsible for the replacement cost.

If cart is lost or stolen, the contractor will try to recover them using their serial number and electronic identification tag. Please contact the RDN via the Online Portal to report the missing cart. If the contractor cannot locate your cart, your household may be responsible for the replacement cost.

Replacement costs are charged against the property at the following rates:

Cart replacement rates
Cart Size Cost + Administrative Fee*
80 L  $56.40
100 L  $41.80
240 L $59.00
360 L  $66.90
* administrative fee is $50 for 2020/2021
Is there an assisted set-out service if I’m not able to take my carts to the curb?

The carts are equipped with large wheels with a stable base, designed for easy maneuverability even in difficult terrain.

The assist set-out service is intended for residents with temporary or permanent mobility challenges who do not have someone to take their carts to the curb for them and do not have an able-bodied person over 18 years of age living in your residence. The RDN may request documentation from a health care provider to accompany the application.

The cost for this assisted set-out service is $120 per year per dwelling unit payable by the property owner, consistent with the user pay structure of utilities.

Can I continue to use my own containers for collection?

No, all RDN residents in single family dwellings are required to use the new RDN automated carts for collection. Carts from other municipalities, regional districts or retailers are not compatible with the RDN collection trucks and will not be collected. 

Only material inside the carts, with the lid closed will be collected.

Can I put my own locks on the carts?

No, please do not put locks on the carts. The carts need to be able to open freely for collection. If you do choose to secure your cart, they must be unlocked for collection. If they are locked, it will not be considered as a missed collection.

All food waste carts will have a gravity lock which is designed to open automatically during collection, even in the locked position.

What if I have unused extra bag tags?

Unused tags will be eligible for refund at the following locations:

  • RDN Head Office - 6300 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo
  • RDN Regional Landfill - 1105 Cedar Road Nanaimo
  • RDN Church Road Transfer Station - 860 Church Road, Parksville
What do I do with my old garbage, recycling and/or food waste containers?

Garbage, recycling and/or food waste containers used before the automated curbside service are your property. There a number of creative and environmentally friendly ways to repurpose used garbage/food waste/recycling containers and keep them out of the landfill, such as:

  • extra storage for tools, potting soil, mulch, yard waste
  • animal feed storage
  • rain barrels
  • use it to save up your depot items such as film plastics, glass, Styrofoam or refundables
  • DYI potato/carrot planter!
Can I buy additional carts from the store?

No. The carts may look similar but they are different as the RDN carts will be Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagged to your address. All carts are equipped with a RFID tag and a unique serial number linked to your assigned property. The new collection trucks are equipped with a RFID reader and an onboard computer to ensure that residents are using their assigned carts. The carts that will be delivered to your home were chosen for their technical specifications, in particular, their durability and compatibility with the automated collection trucks. For clarity, only carts provided by the RDN are compatible with the new automated curbside collection trucks and only RDN carts will be collected.

How do I get my carts to the curb if I have a long driveway?

The carts have large sturdy wheels and a stable base making them easy to move on pavement, gravel, grass and even snow. However, there are circumstance where this may not be logistically possible.

There are a couple of options for your consideration:

  • Residents who do not wish to roll their carts down a long or difficult driveway may choose to store them at the end of their driveway within the property limits, ideally inside a shelter, and move them to the edge of the roadway on collection day. Please keep in mind, the food waste cart is equipped with a gravity lock, which is designed to open automatically during collection. However, these are not bear proof. Residents will have the choice to upgrade to a more robust, WildSafeBC certified 240L bear-resistant cart at a one-time cost of $230 per cart, plus applicable annual waste processing cost. For more information, please check out: bear-resistant cart.
  • The RDN has sourced a number of different attachments that can be affixed to vehicles (car, truck, ATV, lawn tractor, etc.) to allow residents to tow the carts. Click here to view a short video which profiles these attachments.
Why do I need to receive a food waste cart since I compost in my backyard?

Please keep in mind, you can use your food waste cart for plate scrapings, cheese, eggs, meat and soiled paper, things that you would not be able to compost in back yard. However, if you do not use the food waste cart, you don’t need to put it out on your collection day and just store it instead. The food waste cart will still be delivered to your home because if you move from the property, the next owner will be able to use the cart.

It is important to divert food waste because it creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that adds to global warming. In the landfill, buried under layers of waste and without access to oxygen, food can't decompose properly. Food waste use up a lot of precious landfill space, which is finite. Based on a waste audit conducted in 2012, it was determined over 35% of material sent to the landfill in our region was compostable organics.

Do I need to use a liner inside the carts?
Do I need to use a liner inside the carts
Food Waste

Optional. Acceptable liners include shredded paper, paper bags, newspaper, boxboard or certified compostable bags. Only
compostable bags with the logos as shown below are accepted.

Compostable Logo

Recycling No. Keep your recycling loose, not bagged or nested. A liner, bag or any plastic film in your recycling is considered  contamination. It will cause issues with the equipment in the truck and sorting facility and may result in the material that would
have otherwise been recycled, ending up in the garbage.
Garbage Optional. You can chose to bag your items or keep them loose. Under special circumstances, such as a pandemic, you may be asked to bag, or double bag all of your garbage.

The Billing

How much does the automated curbside collection service cost?

The curbside collection service is fully funded by RDN residents that receive the service, and is not augmented by taxation. The new automated curbside collection service will continue to be paid for the curbside utility fee. 

The utility fee will be based on the garbage cart size. Please see Schedule A of Bylaw 1802 for current rates.

What does the curbside utility fee cover?

The fee, determined by the garbage cart size, covers the cost of delivering solid waste collection services, including the collection of the 3 waste streams, as well as the cost of disposal and processing of the material collected in the carts.

Is the cost of the service determined by the weight of material disposed?

No, the utility fee will be determined by the size of the garbage cart, not by the weight.

Do I pay less if I have less garbage?

As an incentive to encourage recycling and composting, you have the option to:

  • Choose a smaller garbage for lower fee; and/or
  • Upsize your recycling carts from a 240L to 360L at no extra charge (if you had opted to downsize to a 100L recycling cart and now require a larger recycling cart, an administrative fee will apply). 
Can I opt out of the curbside collection service?

No, curbside collection service is a mandatory service for all RDN single family dwelling units. Single family dwelling units are required to comply and pay the utility fees in accordance with Bylaw 1802. 

Why do I have to pay for curbside collection for the entire year if I have a vacation home that is unoccupied for most of the year?

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing whether a property is occupied or not and have no ability to adjust your bill accordingly. The administrative work required to keep track of occupancy of every residence would be significant and likely increase the cost of service.

Why do I have to pay for curbside collection if I have a vacant rental property?

It is impossible for our billing system to track of the occupancy of rental properties. The administrative work required to keep track of occupancy of every residence would be significant and increase the cost of service. If the dwelling is deemed habitable (intended for living and sleeping, with cooking and bathing facilities), the owner will be billed for curbside collection services.

Why did I receive a utility bill belong to the previous owner of the house I just bought?

At the time of billing in May/June, utility bills are sent to the owner of the property on record. The RDN updates records with new owner information when a lawyer/notary contacts us for information to do a conveyance. The statement of adjustments that you receive from your lawyer/notary should show an adjustment for a portion of this bill. Please contact your lawyer/notary directly if this adjustment was not done.

What do I do with a bill for a house I sold last year?

Please return the bill to the RDN, so that we can research ownership, update our records and re-direct the bill.

Why can't you send the utility bill directly to my tenant?

It is RDN policy to bill the property owner. It is between the owner and the tenant as to how that cost is passed along. The property owner is ultimately responsible for the bill, and if unpaid at year end, it will be added to property taxes.

The Collection Schedule

Why do I have to have my material out by 8 AM when the collection truck doesn't usually come by until later in the day?

The order in which the driver collects material on their respective routes can change without notice. The driver is obliged to collect your waste on your scheduled collection day between 8 AM and 6 PM (unless otherwise permitted by the RDN) but the time is not specified. Material should be set out no earlier than 5 AM and prior to 8 AM on your scheduled collection day. If you put your out your material after 8:00 AM and the collection truck has already passed your house, it will not be considered as missed collection and will not be picked up.

What happens to my scheduled collection day after a holiday?

The curbside collection schedule follows an add-a-day system. After each statutory holiday that falls on a weekday (Monday - Friday), your scheduled collection day will advance by one day. For example, if your collection day is Wednesday, and Friday is a statutory holiday, your collection day will move ahead to Thursday the following week. If you are unsure of your collection day, click here to check your collection schedule.

What happens if it snows and the collection truck cannot get down my road?

Severe winter weather, such snowy and icy conditions or roads blocked by downed trees or power lines, may cause Waste Connections to temporarily delay or cancel curbside collection. Please refer to Adverse Weather Disruption to Collection Service for details. Call 1-866-999-8227 for detailed information. You can also download the RDN curbside app to set up alerts related to curbside collection.

The Placement of Carts

How should the carts be placed for collection?

The placement of the cart is very important because the automated truck's mechanical arm needs sufficient room to pick up and empty the cart.

General rule of thumb for proper cart placement:

  • Place wheels against the curb without impeding roadway or bike lanes
  • Leave 1m (~3ft) of space around your carts
  • Do not block the sidewalks, roadway or bike lanes
  • Keep carts away from barriers like cars, poles and utility boxes.

Placement of Carts

What if I have no sidewalk or curb?

For majority of residents, please place carts at the end of your driveway, adjacent to roadway.

RDN staff and Waste Connections will be addressing the problematic areas ahead of the cart deliveries to determine the most suitable areas of cart placements. If it remains an issue or you are unsure of where to place your cart, please contact the RDN at zerowaste [at]

Solid Waste Management 

Who is served by RDN Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and programs?

The RDN owns and operates two solid waste management facilities in RDN: the Regional Landfill and Church Road Transfer Station. These facilities receive municipal solid waste, recyclables, and construction/demolition waste from the general public and commercial haulers. Both facilities operate under an approved Solid Waste Management Plan and serve more than 155,000 people. It is expected to grow by another 52,000 residents to approximately 208,000 residents within the next 10 years. Click here to learn more.

Where does the material collected at curbside go?

Curbside recycling collection in the Regional District of Nanaimo (including the City of Nanaimo) is collected under Recycle BC.

  • Plastic containers - Sorted and baled in Nanaimo.
    The plastics are sent to Metro Vancouver, where they are shredded, washed and pelletized.
    The pellets are used for new packaging and other products.
  • Metal containers - Sorted and baled in Nanaimo.
    Metals are sold to end-markets in BC, Ontario and the United States.
    They are shredded, smelted, and rolled into new sheets.
    It gets used for new packaging and sheet metal manufacturing.

  • Paper - Sorted and baled in Nanaimo.
    Paper bales are sold to end-markets overseas, in BC or the US.
    There it is washed, pulped and spun into fibre.
    The fibre gets made into new items like egg cartons, boxes, and other paper products.

  • Organics - Locally processed at Circular Waste and produces grade A compost.

  • Garbage - Landfilled at the RDN Regional Landfill in Cedar

Proper recycling (i.e. washing and separating) ensures that materials collected at curbside can be efficiently recycled. High rates of contamination can result in material being landfilled. This is why the RDN continues to focus on curbside outreach and information to ensure residents know What Goes Where and attributed to the RDN's success in maintaining low contamination rates. Click here for more information the importance of Recycle Right.

Why did the CBC Marketplace segment indicate that all of our recycling is going overseas?

Waste Connections of Canada is contracted by the RDN to collect curbside collection services for residential single-family dwellings however, the RDN is also partnered with Recycle BC for all packaging and printed paper collected at the curbside. This means that all recyclable material collected at the curbside is processed by Recycle BC. Please find below Recycle BC's response below:

“Our contracts stipulate that Recycle BC must approve the end markets for all of our materials before they are transferred. In the case of plastic, 99 percent remains in Canada. This end market is Merlin Plastics, who was found in the report to have recycled the plastic it received. Less than 1% of our plastic is shipped overseas in the form of densified polystyrene, and this constitutes only a portion of the foam we collect. We have personally visited this company to verify its end use. This foam is used in picture frames.”

Recycle BC is a not-for-profit organization responsible for residential packaging and paper recycling throughout BC. Recycle BC is the stewardship agency for packaging and printed paper regulated under the Provincial Recycling Regulation. Recycle BC’s 5 year Packaging and Paper Product Extended Producer Responsibility Plan is approved by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The RDN works hard to achieve one of the lowest curbside contamination rates for curbside recycling which helps to ensure the materials we accept at the curbside are recycled. In terms of our other waste streams, organics are sent to Circular Waste in Duke Point for composting producing Grade A compost and garbage is disposed of at our Regional Landfill in Cedar.

Who is responsible for the collection and disposal of my waste?

The RDN has a mandate to  manage the solid waste operations within the RDN, which includes the operation of the disposal facilities and residential curbside collection service. If you live in a single family home, your waste collection is likely provided by the RDN. If you live in an apartment or condominium building, your waste collection is likely provided by a private contractor.

All garbage collected in the RDN is eventually disposed of at the Regional Landfill, the only solid waste disposal facility in the region. Recyclables are sorted and processed at the Waste Connection Recycling Centre and food waste is process at the Circular Waste Composting Facility.

Why divert food waste?

When food and other organic materials end up in the garbage they:

  • Create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that adds to global warming. In the landfill, buried under layers of waste and without access to oxygen, food can't decompose properly.
  • Use up a lot of finite landfill space. Based on the 2012 waste composition audit, it was determined over 35% of material sent to the landfill in our region was compostable organics.

The removal of food waste and other organic materials in the waste stream is instrumental in achieving the overall goal of diverting 90per cent of the region's waste from the landfill. Local studies have shown that food waste and compostable paper makes up approximately 50 per cent of household garbage. By using the food waste cart, households will:

  • Reduce the region's dependence on landfill disposal, helping ensure its only landfill can keep working for years to come;
  • Take action on climate change by keeping methane-causing organic waste out of the landfill; and
  • Be a part of a local, sustainable solution to waste management. A landfill has a limited lifespan, while a composting facility can continue to process our food and other organic waste indefinitely and create finished compost - a beneficial, renewable resource.

>In the RDN, residential food waste is processed at a local composting facility. The facility is currently undergoing an in-depth retrofit of the entire facility to implement advanced composting and odour abatement systems. The facility processes all types of organic waste including food, yard and garden, co-mingled and fish waste into grade A compost.

What are operating hours and rates for the RDN disposal facilities?

The Regional Landfill is located at 1105 Cedar Road, Nanaimo and the Church Road Transfer Station is located at 860 Church Road. Click here for operating hours and rates.

Why are there charges to drop off waste?

Garbage costs money to manage. With increasing environmental protection standards and increasing fuel, labor and equipment costs, modern waste management is an expensive business. To pay for safe and responsible garbage management there are only two possible revenue sources: taxes or user fees. The RDN has chosen to finance the operation of its Solid Waste Disposal facilities with user fees.

Why are user fees used to fund garbage disposal instead of taxes? If we all produce waste, shouldn't the costs be shared equally amongst our citizens?

Paying for garbage with taxes removes a powerful incentive to reduce waste and explore alternatives to expensive waste management and disposal. Using taxes to fund garbage collection and disposal creates the impression that garbage disposal is free, distorting costs and devaluing the service. A tax based system forces those who produce little waste to subsidize those who produce a lot of waste. User pay garbage disposal is a very simple system; if you generate more garbage you should pay more, if you generate less garbage you should pay less.

Wouldn't people rather have a simple tax based system that they can use for free?

No. User pay is overwhelmingly supported by the citizens of the RDN. A RDN survey indicated that 79% of residents supported a user pay system for waste disposal. With user pay disposal, waste generation is entirely dependent on the waste generator, which ultimately determines the cost of disposal. Waste conscious businesses and individuals can virtually eliminate disposal costs through waste reduction, reuse and recycling.

Doesn't charging for waste encourage illegal dumping to avoid charges?

No. Studies and our local experience show that there is not a strong connection between disposal fees and illegal dumping. The most recent information indicates that those dumping illegally are mainly marginalized members of our community and often dump illegally simply because they are unaware of the proper disposal procedures or are unwilling to do the right thing.

Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste:

  • Is a goal and a process that involves individuals, communities and local, provincial and federal governments and a vision of a future where garbage is a thing of the past.
  • Is a movement that began with asking the simple question, "Why have our recycling efforts hit a plateau?
  • One reason is that after targeting 50% diversion and achieving it, people had lost interest in going further. It was clear that further gains in waste reduction and recycling could be achieved but that the will to pursue them was lacking.
  • Inspires us to revisit our goals and apply our knowledge to the problems that persist. Once the possibility of Zero Waste is accepted, all waste looks different.
  • Is about acquiring the wisdom that we all need to be responsible in our use of resources and our impact on the planet.
How is the RDN measuring up against other jurisdictions in this Zero Waste initiative?

The RDN was one of the first jurisdiction on Vancouver Island to move beyond recycling and adopt a Zero Waste approach to eliminating waste. Thanks to the ongoing participation of our community, the RDN has achieved some of the highest diversion in Canada and the lowest per capita disposal rates in the world. 

Why bother with Zero Waste when it is impossible to completely eliminate waste?

Many important objectives may be impossible to achieve completely, like eliminating traffic fatalities, but the goal remains worthwhile. While it may seem impossible to achieve Zero Waste, it remains a worthwhile long term goal to improve the health of our environment and conserve scarce resources.

As part of the RDN’s 2019 – 2022 Strategic Plan, the preservation of natural assets and effective delivery of services to residents are key guiding principles for the organization. At the RDN, we pride ourselves in being a leader in waste management - both in providing exceptional service, as well as by striving for a 90% waste diversion rate. This goal was laid out in our Solid Waste Management Plan, approved in March 2020 by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. To learn more, please refer to the Solid Waste Management Plan

Why the need to go beyond the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)?

The 3Rs have increased awareness of how the waste we generate impacts our environment but have become primarily associated with recycling. Greater awareness around reducing and reusing is needed to move beyond recycling. Zero Waste is a broader concept that re-emphasizes waste reduction.

Will these Zero Waste initiatives eliminate jobs and economic prosperity?

No. With most changes, economic activity shifts, but is rarely eliminated. Our garbage has value; Zero Waste is about ReThinking Waste, recognizing and utilizing that value and creating local jobs instead of landfills.