Our waste system depends on you to be successful, and that starts with sorting materials correctly. The green cart is used to collect organic materials. 

Image of dark green organics carts lined up along the curb on a residential street.

Get to know your green cart

Your green cart is for more than just grass clippings and yard waste. Organics are mostly food scraps and yard waste, but soiled papers, pizza boxes, shredded paper and pet waste can go in the green cart as well.

The organics cart is not a composter. The commercial composting facility that takes our materials can handle many organic items that are not suitable for backyard composters.

Make sure you only put organic materials in the green cart. Remember to remove plastic wrappers, bags and containers from food before you throw them in the green cart.

Green carts with non-organic materials will not be collected because they contaminate the rest of the organics in the truck. This increases processing costs and the final compost may not be usable.

When putting your cart out for collection remember:

  • All organics must fit inside the cart with the lid closed.
  • Materials left outside the cart will not be collected.
  • Carts must weigh less than 90 kg or 200 lbs otherwise the cart cannot be lifted and emptied.
  • Place it at least one metre from all other objects (other carts, recycling, trees, basketball nets etc.) for safe collection.
  • Make sure to put nothing but organics in the organics cart. If other items are included, the cart will not be emptied. Other items will contaminate the composting process.

Learn where to put your cart during snow clearing or street sweeping.

Green carts with non-organic materials will not be collected because they contaminate the rest of the organics in the truck. This increases processing costs and the final compost may not be usable.

Common organics materials

We don't recommend using a garburator to dispose of food scraps as it increases the chance of sewer backups. Over time, the organic material will collect in the pipes which can lead to a blockage.

Compostable vs biodegradable bags

If you choose to use a bag to collect your organics, make sure you are using certified compostable bags. Plastic and biodegradable bags are not acceptable in the green cart.

Certified compostable bags can be purchased at most grocery or home hardware stores in Sherwood Park. Quantity and availability of bags may vary by store.

Compostable bags:

  • are made from a food by-product such as corn starch and break down into compost.
  • are usually opaque and feel softer than than  plastic bags
  • have the certified compostable logo. There are some brands that say compostable but are  actually biodegradable so be sure to check for the logo.

Look for this logo:


Image of the certified compostable logo. It's a black circle with a leaf and a tree that looks like an arrow, to the left are the words Compostable.


Biodegradable bags

  • are made with plastic that  breaks down into small pieces but does not decompose
  • contaminate the final compost, making the whole batch un-usable
  • can be used for waste in the black waste cart, but not the green organics cart

You can also use newspaper or a paper bag to line your green catcher. If you have a particularly wet organic, wrap it in a newspaper or paper towel to help absorb the liquids. 

Keep it clean and green!

What happens to your organics?

Organic materials are taken to a commercial composting facility. The organics are placed in windrows and because this process is done at an industrial scale, the organic materials reach high temperatures.

This allows us to include meats, dairy products and other organic materials that cannot be composted in a backyard composter. Increasing the temperature also kills any bacteria or pathogens that may be present in the organic material.

Once the organics have turned into compost, it is spread over farmers' fields where they grow crops such as hemp, barley malt and canola.

We showed residents pictures of items that were dug up in a landfill after being buried for 40 years. Here are their reactions. If these items were sent for composting instead, it would take about a year to break down.



Think you can’t make a difference? Think again. Don’t be a landfiller. 

Need an extra organics cart?

Extra organics carts are available for an additional monthly fee. Call Utilities at 780-449-5514 for details.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Page ID: 39937