Frozen Green Carts

Canadian winters present a challenge to residents using green carts all across the Country. Garbage collectors may be unable to empty out the contents of your bin if it's frozen to the inside. If this happens to you, please be patient, try out these tips, and wait for your next collection day. 



The Basics:

If the contents of your cart are freezing to the inside and getting stuck, it's likely being caused by one or more of the following issues. Click to be redirected to the "How To" can likely be solved by improving one or more of these components. Click one to redirect to the "How To", you will find different ways to resolve each issue. 

1) Reduce moisture of contents

2) Create a thin barrier between the walls of your green cart and its contents

3) Keep contents loose


How to: 

1) Reducing Moisture

  • Strain excess liquid from wet compostable material

  • Wrap bundles of wet compostables in newspaper, flyers, or another absorbent material*

  • Line your mini-bin with flyers, newspaper, flyers, or another absorbent material*

  • Before you dump a load of compost in your green cart, add a thin layer of dry, absorbent material.*

    *See Recommended Materials


2) Creating a Barrier

  • Make a base layer at the bottom of your green cart where liquids will collect and freeze. You can use several crumpled-up balls of flyers or newspaper, or another recommended material*

  • Line the sides of your green cart with one of the recommended materials*

  • You can also try lining your cart with a thin layer of vegetable oil using a rag and broomstick, or an old broom or mop. Some people have a designated broom or mop for cleaning their green carts, which will come in handy for other uses such as this. 

  • You may choose to buy large paper yard waste bags to line your green cart.

    *See Recommended Materials


3) Keeping Contents Loose

  • Before you dump a load of compost in your green cart, add a thin layer of the recommended materials each time.* This layering of wet and dry will keep the contents loose and reduce moisture.

  • Avoid packing materials down

  • Try collecting compostables in your freezer and add the frozen chunks to your green cart when necessary. The frozen chunks are less likely to adhere to the sides of your cart and will eliminate any odours you may experience in your home when using a mini-bin. To collect compost, you can reuse something you already have, such as a bread bag, used zip-lock bag, ice cream tub or food container (to avoid rejection, please ensure this plastic doesn’t end up in your cart!), or buy a compost container specifically made for freezer-use, like this one. One could even use a silicone loaf pan that fits conveniently in the door of your freezer - the choice is yours! 

    Note: This will not work in temperatures fluctuating above and below freezing, as it will thaw and re-freeze to the cart walls. If this is the case, we recommend either using a thin layer of dry materials in your green cart or accumulating the compostables in your freezer until collection time (if you have the room, of course!), to ensure your cart empties with ease.

    *See Recommended Materials


Recommended materials: 

These materials will help absorb moisture and create air pockets to prevent the cart’s contents from freezing together and to the inside walls:

  • Straw

  • Wood shavings

  • Flyers*

  • Newspaper*

  • Boxboard* (i.e. cereal and snack boxes)

  • Soiled cardboard (i.e. takeout or pizza boxes)

  • Other non-recyclable paper products (i.e. paper flour and sugar bags)

frozen bins straw frozen bins wood shavings frozen bins newspaper frozen bins flyers frozen bins soiled paper

* When possible, please keep the use of clean, dry recyclable paper products (such as flyers, newspaper and boxboard) to a minimum. These are valuable materials for recycling that reduce pressures on virgin forestry resources around the globe. Opt to make use of other compostable, non-recyclable materials when they are available!


Do you have a Frozen Lid?

  • Keep the lid free of snow and ice 

  • If possible, keep your green cart in a shed, garage or in a sheltered area against an exterior wall to prevent ice and snow from building up on the lid

No access to a sheltered area for storage? 

  • Keep the cart in a sunny location 
  • Clear off the top of your bin when snow or ice is accumulating
  • Don't be scared to bang the lid to break the ice seal. The carts are flexible and can withstand and good thump if you're having this issue. 


Related Articles

Thumbnail Composting 101 Using a Mini Bin 
Unless you don't mind running out to the green bin every time you peel a banana, blow your nose, or make a cup of tea, you'll need to find a way to collect compostable items in your home until you're ready to take them out. We like to refer to these compost collection containers as "mini-bins."

In this article we have provided residents with resources for a better composting experience. Learn how to choose the ideal mini-bin for your home, how to keep it clean and free of odour, and other handy tips & tricks!