A Brief History of Norfolk County’s Waste Reduction and Diversion Efforts

The Recycling Program

  • The Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk applied for a Ministry of the Environment grant in the spring of 1986 to undertake a recycling feasibility study.
  • In 1987, The Ministry of the Environment announced that they would fund 50% of a six month recycling feasibility study in Haldimand-Norfolk. Because of this, Regional Staff decided to attend their first Recycling Council of Ontario conference that same year in Hamilton, which was one of the first steps to bringing a full-fledged recycling program to The Region.
  • Due to the fact that the recycling program was beginning to gain steam within Haldimand-Norfolk, the hiring of a full-time Recycling Coordinator occurred in 1988.
  • The feasibility study for recycling collection within the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk was conducted in 1988 and amended in 1989.
  • To reduce the amount of waste generated at the Regional Administration Building, a waste reduction program was established in 1989 which included the replacement of disposal Styrofoam coffee cups with reusable ceramic mugs. This was soon followed by a comprehensive internal recycling program in the Regional Administration Building which included office paper, newspaper, glass, and beverage cans.
  • Also in 1989, Regional Staff outlined the rationale and reasoning for the undertaking of a recycling program – the points and arguments still stand to this day.

    The rationale and reasoning included the fact that:

    • Recycling reduces the reliance on landfilling as a disposal of non-hazardous solid waste
    • Recycling helps to conserve natural resources and energy
    • Recycling helps to avoid the one-time consumption of raw materials which is seen as highly unsustainable
  • Prior to the first collection week for recyclables of May 7-11, 1990, more than 33,500 blue boxes were distributed Region-wide. Recycling collection began within Haldimand-Norfolk on May 7, 1990. At the program’s inception, the processing of recyclables (i.e. final sorting) was undertaken at facilities outside the Region. Because of this, collection vehicles could not be expected to transport recyclables to these distant destinations. As such, roll-off containers were located at all Regional waste handling facilities so that the collection vehicles could dump recyclables for transfer to HGC Management in Brantford. Recycling collection originally included newspaper, steel cans, aluminum cans, glass, and PET plastic. Later in the year, rigid plastic containers, such as laundry detergent bottles and margarine tubs were added to the list of collectable materials.
  • In 1991, fine paper collection began in all schools within Haldimand-Norfolk as part of a Ministry of the Environment initiative.
  • In 1992, Regional Staff began investigating the expansion of the curbside recycling collection stream. This would eventually lead to the ability of residents to recycle more paper (such as corrugated cardboard, boxboard, phonebooks, magazines, catalogues, and other household paper), more plastics (HDPE, LDPE, PP, and PS), and aluminum trays/foil – in addition to the already-collected newspaper, steel cans, aluminum cans, and glass. The expansion of the curbside recycling collection stream was approved by Regional Council in 1993 and was launched in 1994, which coincided with the opening of the Regionally-owned Material Recovery Facility (MRF).
  • The Material Recovery Facility (MRF), which opened on October 17, 1994, was co-owned by Norfolk and Haldimand Counties until October 2011. The MRF is located in Simcoe’s Industrial Park and now owned solely by Norfolk County and operated under contract with HGC Management Inc.
  • The switch from blue to black boxes for recyclable material collection was approved by Regional Council late in 1999. The Region began purchasing black boxes in 2000. The switch was made due to the fact that the black box is a product made from 100% recycled material, thus helping to create a market for recycled materials and serving to close the proverbial ‘loop’.
  • In 2011, as an effort to make the recycling process more efficient, 2-stream recycling was introduced to Norfolk County. A new ‘tall’ black box was delivered to residents. With two boxes recyclable items can be sorted with paper fibres going into the small box, and all other recyclables going into the tall box. By sorting items into 2-boxes time is saved at the curb on collection day, and processing at the MRF has a greater effeciency. New items were added to the allowable recyclables list which included Tetra Pak boxes, empty paint cans, empty aerosol containers and spiral cardboard tubes and cans.

The Household Hazardous Waste Program

  • In 1989, the first Household Hazardous Waste collection day in Haldimand-Norfolk was proposed and implemented. A one day (Saturday) event was held in Simcoe and a one day event was held the following Saturday in Cayuga. 132 households were represented in Simcoe, while 162 households were represented in Cayuga. Norfolk County now holds annual Household Hazardous Waste events on four separate days at four different locations. Electronics and fluorescent bulbs have been collected at the events since 2001 and 2006 respectively.


  • Also in 1990, Ministry of the Environment and Regionally-subsidized composters became available to all residents of Haldimand-Norfolk. The Ministry of the Environment covered 50% of the costs, the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk covered 10% of the costs, while a resident who wished to purchase a composter was liable for 40% of the cost.

Organic Waste

  • In 1992, in an effort to divert Christmas trees from landfill, a chipping program was proposed by staff to Regional Council. As part of an agreement for a grant towards the purchasing of a chipper, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment stipulated that the chipper must be used in some effect as part of the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk’s 3R program. The resulting chips were either used by the Region for its own applications, or made available to the public.
  • In August of 1993, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment issued a Certificate of Approval to the Town of Simcoe for the collection and composting of leaves from residential sources at the Simcoe Waste Transfer Station.
  • In 2003, as an effort to divert leaves from landfill, a harmonized curb side leaf collection program began in ten additional urban areas of Norfolk County, complementing Simcoe’s pre-existing leaf collection program. As per the 1993 Certificate of Approval, leaves collected within Norfolk County were composted at the Simcoe Transfer Station. 
  • In 2010 Norfolk County started collecting all leaf and yard waste including Halloween pumpkins and began to ship the materials to a composting site.