on the right images of 2 clear bags with garbage in it, 1 black garbage bag, 2 blue recycling bags. Text on the left and centre reads: Let's be Clear with our Waste.

Clear Garbage Bags


The City of St. John’s has updated its Sanitation Regulations to reflect modern practices of waste collection, including curbside recycling and other ways to divert waste from the landfill.

Garbage put at the curb for collection must be in clear, colourless bags – with the exception of one ‘privacy’ bag per week that can be in an opaque, non-transparent (ie. black, white) bag.

If you don’t find the answers to your questions about clear bags for garbage on this page, review our Frequently Asked Questions.

Read recent City Guide articles about clear bags for garbage:

Why clear bags?

The main reasons we require clear bags for garbage are to:

  • increase recycling
  • remove hazardous waste/items from garbage
  • heighten safety for collection staff

We need to decrease the amount of waste, and stop hazardous waste such as batteries, going to the landfill.

We know from a recent waste audit that more recyclables are being put in the garbage than are being recycled in blue bags. We need to divert useable waste from the landfill – to do that we need to ensure recyclables are put in blue bags at the curb, not in the garbage.

With clear bags for garbage only, curbside recycling becomes mandatory in St. John’s.

Using clear bags for your household garbage shows you what you’ve thrown away, and if any of it should have been placed in a recycling blue bag instead. We need to increase the amount of recyclables going to the Materials Recovery (recycling) Facility to be sustainable: environmentally, socially and economically.

Diverting recyclables away from garbage and into recycling saves the City and its taxpayers money. The City pays $84 for each tonne of garbage it brings to Robin Hood Bay and only $22 for each tonne of recyclables. No further benefit can come from recycling material when it is put in a garbage bag destined for the landfill, unlike if it was put in blue bags, sorted at the Recycling Facility and sold to markets for further processing and use.

How to use clear bags

All residents of St. John’s are required to use clear bags for garbage put at the curb, regardless of their collection type.

Whether you are on an automated collection route using a City-issued cart or in a manual collection route where a maximum of 4 bags are put at the curb, clear bags must be used for garbage with the exception of the one privacy bag. If you only put 1 kitchen-sized bag of garbage out for collection each week, that is acceptable as your one privacy bag.

Clear bags in stores and the province

Most grocery and home supply stores carry a selection of waste bags, including clear bags for garbage.

Clear garbage bags to encourage recycling is a new concept for St. John’s but in other municipalities across Canada it’s an old idea, including in Mount Pearl where clear bags have been required since 2017, in Central Newfoundland since 2015 and more recently in Western Newfoundland.