Clear Bag Program

Effective June 1, 2021, 'Clear' Garbage Bags became mandatory for the collection of all non-recyclable waste (Garbage) in the Township of North Kawartha. This includes the Curbside Garbage Collection Program, and the Transfer Station Collection of Garbage. 

All Municipalities in Peterborough County will have implemented a ‘clear bag’ program by 2021, due to increasing garbage weights, mandatory recycling requirements and decreasing diversion rates. The County and the City of Peterborough, all have the overall objective of prolonging the life of the Bensfort Road Landfill Site. Note: Diversion is the percentage of recyclable material removed from the overall waste stream.

It has been proven that using ‘clear’ garbage bags is a cost-effective Municipal measure to remove recycling from the waste stream, increase diversion rates, and thereby reduce the amount of garbage being deposited into landfills. And in doing this, it will also improve worker safety by allowing Waste Staff an assessment of garbage bags, in a safe and less invasive manner, to ensure garbage bags do not contain hazardous waste, in addition to recyclables.

In preparation for the switch, a Clear Bag Program flyer was mailed out to all residents of North Kawartha on April 29th, an informative article about the switch to Clear Bags appeared in Peterborough This Week on May 23rd, mobile letterboard signs, posters, and social media posts were used to inform as many residents as possible. An additional Clear Bag Program flyer was mailed out on May 28th, which included the County's Recycling and Sorting Guide, a free 90 litre clear bag, and a $2 coupon toward the purchase of more bags. 

In a video interview conducted in February, Mayor Carolyn Amyotte and Gary Geraldi the Director of Parks & Recreation and Waste Management, discussed the change to clear bags, providing insight into how this will work, and why the change is so important. You can view the video here

To better assist you in determining ‘what is’ and ‘what isn’t’ accepted in the Curbside Blue Box Recycling Program, please check out our Recycling/Blue Boxes Page or download the Peterborough County "2-Stream Recycling Guide". These guidelines also apply at the Transfer Stations. Please visit our "Garbage and Recycling" page for more information on additional recycling/diversion programs available at the Transfer Stations. You may find the "North Kawartha Transfer Station Programs and Services" dropdown particularly helpful.

Clear Bag Program Frequently Asked Questions

1. When did the Clear Bag Program start?
The requirement for all garbage to be in ‘clear bags’, whether for Curbside Collection or at the Transfer Stations, began June 1, 2021.  

2. What is a clear garbage bag?
A clear garbage bag must be a clear substance which you can see through. Transfer Station attendants must be able to easily view the contents within your garbage bag, to ensure there are no recyclable materials or hazardous waste. 

3. Why would a Municipality want to implement a Clear Bag Program?
The Clear Bag Program is often implemented as a cost-effective measure to increase diversion of materials from the waste stream. Implementing a Clear Bag Program also improves worker safety and allows Transfer Station attendants the ability to conduct a quick assessment of the contents within the clear bag(s) to ensure that no recyclable or hazardous items are in the bag.

4. What do I do with my left-over opaque garbage bags?
Residents were encouraged to use up all opaque bags by June 1, 2021. Any left-over opaque bags can be used for personal storage or donate/trade to friends/family not in a jurisdiction requiring the use of clear bags. 

5. What about my privacy? What if there are items in my garbage, that I do not feel comfortable having exposed?
Residents are permitted one small “privacy bag” within each clear bag for their personal items. This will provide an adequate method to enable residents to shield material that they would prefer not to be exposed. Such items may include sanitary products, diapers, incontinence products, personal information that cannot be shredded and recycled, medical objects (not including sharps, or any other unsafe medical items, which should be disposed of in a sharps container provided by your pharmacy or medical professional).

6. What retailers sell clear garbage bags?
Clear garbage bags may be purchased at most retailers that carry opaque bags.

7. Does the use of clear garbage bags increase waste diversion?
Yes. Other participating Municipalities have reported an increase in the amount of recyclable material diverted from the garbage bag and overall waste stream.  

Note: Diversion is the percentage of recyclable material removed from the overall waste stream. Diversion rates are calculated and reported on an annual basis and should not be less than 50%. For example, there should be 1kg of recycling for every 1kg of garbage.

8. I am already recycling and diverting as much as I can from the garbage so why do I need to do this?
For residents that are diligent in recycling and doing their best to divert, this program will make no difference except for simply the colour of the bag. This program is intended to increase participation from households that do not presently recycle material by raising them to the standard of those who already participate.

9. What if my clear garbage bag contains recyclable material?
The Township of North Kawartha is proposing an allowable level of 10% of other divertible (recyclable) material in the garbage bag, at the Transfer Stations. Starting on June 1, 2021, bags at the Transfer Stations will be refused if they contain more than 10% of divertible/recyclable material. Transfer Station attendants may be inspecting garbage bags for compliance.

Divertible/recyclable material includes, but is not limited to: Construction and Demolition (C&D), Leaf and Yard Waste, Scrap Metal, Waste Electronics, etc. These materials may be accepted in designated areas at the Transfer Stations, that are not available through Curbside Collection. Therefore, if bringing your garbage to the Transfer Station, we are encouraging Residents to take advantage of all the other diversion/recycling programs available.   

Note: there must be Zero Blue Box Material in the garbage bag, whether through Curbside Collection or at the Transfer Stations. Blue Box Material (such as contained in the "2-Stream Recycling Guide") is banned from the Bensfort Rd. Landfill Site, as per the County of Peterborough By-Law.

10. Someone else is using my cottage/residence this summer, what are my responsibilities?
You are responsible for ensuring that any users of your cottage/residence are aware of the Township’s clear bag and recycling program. Please leave this information in a common area (i.e. fridge). You are also encouraged to supply your guests with clear bags and bag tags that can be used at the Transfer Stations.

11. What if I do not use a clear garbage bag?
Starting June 1, 2021 clear garbage bags became mandatory. Residents not using clear garbage bags will be refused Curbside Collection or entry into the Transfer Stations.

Your Additional Questions Answered

The overriding reason for the switch to clear bags, is to try and keep as much recyclable material as possible out of landfills.

Clear bags allow the attendants to see (for example) the 30 aluminum cans that should rightfully be recycled, or the half litre of paint that is hazardous waste.

Conversely, used diapers, tissues, paper towels, etc. are "contaminated" and should not be recycled as fibres, they are garbage. 

Nonetheless, what follows are some of the questions we have received regarding specific items:

Can I use clear blue bags for garbage or recycling?
Unfortunately, no. The blue transparent bags were originally intended for recycling, and although Peterborough County no longer collects recycling in bags, the blue bags often still get mistaken for recycling, and therefore missed at the curbside. Furthermore, depending on the manufacturer, some of the blue bags aren’t as transparent as others. Therefore, clear bags only.

Can’t we use grocery store bags in places like the kitchen or bathroom and just put them in the clear bag? And is it one, small, white, privacy bag per each clear large garbage bag?
Grocery store bags are permitted as your one, opaque, privacy bag, inside your clear bag. As these grocery/shopping bags come in a variety of colours, the privacy bag (only) can be any colour. Otherwise, all other bags should be clear, or you can just dump the garbage from your other containers into the clear bag. And yes, it is one, small, privacy bag per each large (usually 90 litre) clear bag.

Where can I put coffee grinds, food waste, etc.?
You may compost your food waste in a backyard composter, or use the Moloks for organics at the Anstruther Transfer Station. If you don’t have a backyard composter, then they are just garbage in your clear bag.

What is the colour of organic bags, or should they be Compostable?
We currently do not have curbside organic collection. It is one item that Peterborough County is working on. So, your choices for organic disposal are a backyard composter or the Moloks for organics at the Anstruther Transfer Station.

Where do dirty napkins, Kleenex, paper towel, diapers, cat litter, dog poop go?
All of these soiled, dirty, or contaminated items are garbage.

Where do juice boxes go?
In container recycling.

Is all Styrofoam garbage? 
Unfortunately, Styrofoam of any kind is garbage. However, if you want to save space in your curbside garbage bag, you can take bulky white Styrofoam only (not plates, trays, cups, etc.) to the Pido Road 24-hour drop-off depot in Peterborough. 

Can all frozen food bags be recycled, or are some just garbage? 
Frozen food bags are tricky. If the bag is stretchy plastic like a grocery bag type, then yes, 'bag in a bag', tie, and place in papers/fibre recycling. If it's non-flexible plastic like a pouch, then no, it is garbage. If it has a zipper and is stretchy, remove the zipper, place the 'bag in a bag', tie, and place in papers/fibres recycling. 

I have always put empty ice cream boxes in the garbage; is that correct? 
All ice cream containers may go in container recycling.

If broken glass is wrapped in newspaper is that OK? How would the curbside garbage collector deal with a clear bag half-filled with several items wrapped in newspaper? 
Broken glass could be placed in a plastic or glass container labeled "broken glass", or just place a note on the garbage bag if you’re wrapping the glass in newspaper. You could also write “glass” on the newspaper. As mentioned, since we don’t get as much newspaper as we used to, an alternative to newspaper like a plastic or (unbroken) glass container may be used. 

Contact Us