Post-Collection Systems

So, I put the carts out at the curb. What happens now?

As a Nanaimo resident, we know you take care to reduce garbage in your Black Cart, properly sort organics and recycle right. You practice the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse & Recycle - and when you're in doubt, you check it out on the What Goes Where recycling directory.

We thank you for your efforts to keep us on the path to Zero Waste, and want you to know your time and care is worth it!  Read through this page to learn what happens to your waste after it's been collected at the curb.


Into the truck: Collected every other week, garbage gets emptied into the larger compartment in our split-packer trucks.

Where it Goes: Garbage is hauled directly to the Regional Landfill, located on Cedar Road in south Nanaimo and operated by the Regional District of Nanaimo.

What Happens: Garbage is emptied into a cell (section) in the landfill, where it's compacted and covered. The landfill is carefully designed and monitored to minimize risks to public health and safety and ensure environmental protection. Read more about our landfill's environmental monitoring here.

Fun Facts:

  • Last year, the average household in our curbside collection program disposed 191 kg of waste to the landfill. (Link to our 2019 Annual Report)
  • The landfill’s current lifespan is to ~2040, based on current disposal rates and population growth estimates.
  • Landfills are designed to minimize decomposition; the landfill has environmental monitoring systems to capture and treat leachate (liquid run-off), and captures the landfill gas (methane and carbon dioxide) to put back onto the energy grid.
  • The most recent waste composition study shows that of waste buried in the landfill:
    • 35% is compostable organics
    • 14% is plastic
    • 12% is paper
    • 11% is building materials


Into the Truck: Collected every other week, recycling gets emptied into the larger compartment in our split-packer trucks.

Where it Goes: Recycling is hauled to a receiving facility in south Nanaimo, where it's collected as part of the Recycle BC province-wide non-profit recycling program.

What Happens:

  • Step 1: At the receiving facility, contaminants (non-recyclable items) are removed and the materials get sorted into basic categories: paper, cardboard, hard plastic, and metal containers.
  • Step 2: The sorted materials are baled, then sent to a material recovery facility (MRF) in the lower mainland.
  • Step 3: In the MRF, the recyclables are put onto a conveyor belt and further sorted into more defined streams, then baled together with like materials.
  • Step 4: How your recyclables are processed
    • Hard Plastic Packaging
      • Where? Lower Mainland
      • How? Plastics are washed, shredded and pelletized
      • What? Turned into new packaging and products
    • Metal Containers
      • Where? Facilities in BC, Ontario and the United States
      • How? Metal is melted and rolled into sheets
      • What? Turned into new new packaging, like aluminum cans, and sheet metal for automotive manufacturing
    • Paper and Cardboard
      • Where? End-markets overseas, in the United States, or in BC
      • How? Pulped, while removing non-fibre items like tape and staples
      • What? Turned into items like egg cartons, boxes, and other paper products

Fun Facts

  • Last year, the average household in our curbside collection program recycled 126 kg of recyclables.
  • The Recycle BC is funded by the producers of residential packaging and paper, through an extended producer responsibility (EPR) program legislated by the Province under the Recycling Regulation in the Environmental Management Act.
  • 90% of materials collected in the Recycle BC program in 2019 were recycled (read more here).


Into the truck: Collected every week, your Green Cart gets emptied into the smaller compartment in our split-packer trucks.

Where it Goes: Organics are hauled to the Circular Waste BC facility in Duke Point.

What Happens: The operators empty the organics into an enclosed building, where they remove any visible bags of garbage or plastic that contaminate the load.  The organics facility does further screening of the material to remove non-compostable materials, then it is composted indoors to control the moisture, temperature, and timing to get a good quality product.  Once it's done processing inside, the compost is brought outside to be aerated and cured.

Fun Facts:

  • The worst offender for contaminating the organics stream is plastic bags.  Plastic should never be put into the Green Cart, unless it's liner that is certified compostable with a visible logo on the bag.
  • Odours are controlled by creating a negative-pressure environment inside the facility, then circulating the vapours through bio-filters.


Contact Us

Zero Waste 250-756-5390
Monday to Friday | 8:00 - 4:30

Last updated: November 23, 2023

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