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Waste Issues and Solutions: FAQs

This page shares information and resources to help Londoners to address sources of litter.

Q: What should I do if I notice a lot of spilled garbage?

A: In general, it is best to report spills to the City of London Municipal Compliance by email or over the phone. The City may respond to complaints about spills by enforcing its Yard and Lot Maintenance or Property Standards By-laws.

It is important to provide relevant information to support your complaint, including:

  • The location and date where the spill was observed

  • The apparent source of the spills, if known, such as dumpsters

  • Photographs, if available

  • Contact information for the property owner, if available

  • Details of any issues with waste facilities that may cause or exacerbate spills, such as dumpsters or bins lacking lids or being overfilled

Municipal by-law compliance staff will typically respond to complaints by arranging a site visit within a few days. Depending on what they find, a by-law order may be issued to the property owner instructing them to clean up the litter and/or remediate the source(s) of litter. The property owner will be given a period of two weeks to comply, or else the City will send staff to clean up and issue a fine. Repeat offences may be subject to increases in the fine amounts.

Cleanups required under by-law orders generally focus only on litter that is present on the offending property. Litter that may have spilled beyond the property line are not considered the responsibility of the property owner, and may not be cleaned up by the City. Therefore, these areas may be important to prioritize in community-led cleanups.

Q: What can I do to minimize the risks of causing litter?

​A: There are many things you can do to help:

  • Delay placing your garbage and recycling at the curb until the morning of collection.

  • Keep lids on waste bins (dumpsters) closed when not in use.

  • Do not discard waste at receptacles (garbage cans) that are already full.

  • Minimize personal consumption of packaging by bringing your own bags and containers and shopping at vendors that offer zero-waste options, such as Reimagine Groceries and local markets.

  • Avoid unnecessary plastic that may become mobile in the environment, such as balloons and confetti.

  • Recycle film plastics (bags, wrappers) at your local grocery store, like Metro and Loblaws. Speak to management in-store for details about what materials are accepted.

  • When organizing an event, consider responsibility for waste beforehand. For outdoor events, plan for the risk of wind blowing items away, and plan to clean up afterwards.

  • Keep extra reusables in your vehicle or bag, such as utensils, travel mug, food containers, bags.

  • Before driving, check truck beds for debris that could fly out.

  • If you smoke,  keep an ashtray in your vehicle. Do not toss your cigarette butts into the street. Dispose of cigarette butts in a garbage or dedicated butt recycling receptacle.

Q: What if waste facilities are being tampered with, rummaged through or suffering illegal dumping?

A: There are various ways to secure dumpsters and recycling bins, such as by installing a perimeter fence or enclosure around the facilities, installing a security camera and using a combination lock that is accessible only for intended users. Avoid overfilling bins and keep lids closed when not in use to reduce the risk of wildlife being attracted to waste. Illegal dumping can be reduced by installing information signs and informing community about how to report dumping when it occurs, and where to properly dispose of waste. If dumping is happening on a recurring basis, you may request assistance from municipal by-law compliance staff. 


Q: What if the dumpster where I live or work is overfilled, broken, without a lid or is otherwise causing garbage spills?

A: In the City of London there are legal requirements for waste storage facilities (e.g., dumpsters, recycling bins) to be maintained according to standards enforced through by-laws, and in some cases, to match specifications that were approved before the site was built (through site plan approval).


The Yard and Lot Maintenance By-law PW-9 includes the following two sections that apply to waste storage:

2.9 Refuse – containment and location

Every owner shall ensure that all refuse which accumulates on their property and when not placed out for collection in accordance with applicable City by-laws is:

(a) in containers:

i. made of rigid, watertight construction;

ii. provided with a tight fitting cover, which may be removed only when the container is empty or is being actively loaded;

iii. maintained in good condition without holes or spillage;

iv. closed, or emptied, rinsed and cleaned when not in use, to prevent the escape of offensive odour or waste; and

v. located in the side or rear yard against a building, structure, fence or retaining wall and arranged in an orderly manner.

(b) not permitted to accumulate longer than 14 days.

2.10 Refuse – contained within bins or exterior bulk storage containers

Every owner where an exterior bin or bulk storage container disposal system with the capacity of 8 cubic yards or less is used shall ensure that the containers are:

(a) equipped with covers or similar devices which shall be readily operable but not left open except when actively being loaded;

(b) large enough to contain all waste generated between collections by the occupants served; and

(c) not loaded beyond the top of the container.

If you believe that these by-law requirements are not being met, taking action may help to prevent future garbage spills. You may begin by contacting the property owner or landlord to let them know about your concerns and suggest corrective measures. Consider using our letter template to assist with contacting a property owner or landlord about waste issues. 


If communication with the property owner fails, you may then wish to contact municipal by-law compliance staff to file a complaint under the Yard and Lot Maintenance By-law. Specifying concerns about sections 2.9 and 2.10 of the by-law listed above with your complaint will help to ensure that by-law enforcement addresses the sources of litter in addition to spillage that may have already occurred.

If you suspect that the waste facilities are too small for the volume of use at the building, such as dumpsters for high-density multi-unit residential buildings, consider contacting Planning and Development Services division of the City to ask about the waste facilities required for the site under the approved site plan, and compare with the facilities that were built. You may be asked to provide photographs of the existing facilities.

Q: People with disabilities are having difficulty using waste facilities, such as loading garbage bags into dumpsters. What can be done to assist them?

A: Garbage bags that don't make it into a storage bin are at high risk of spilling and causing litter. People with disabilities or limited upper body strength or range of motion may experience difficulty with loading waste into bins.


The Ontario Human Rights Code Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability (2016) protects people in Ontario with disabilities from discrimination and harassment under the ground of “disability.” The policy addresses:

  • "a person’s rights under the Code, particularly at work, in rental housing, and when receiving services

  • the right to be free from reprisal (“payback”) for exercising one’s rights under the Code

  • different forms of discrimination (e.g. direct, indirect, subtle, “adverse effect,” harassment, poisoned environment, systemic discrimination)

  • the need for organizations to design their environments inclusively, with the needs of people with disabilities in mind

  • the principles of accommodation (respect for dignity, individualization, integration and full participation)

  • how the duty to accommodate applies to people with disabilities

  • duties and responsibilities in the accommodation process (e.g. the duty to inquire about accommodation needs, medical information to be provided, confidentiality)

  • the considerations in assessing whether the test for undue hardship has been met (costs, outside sources of funding, health and safety considerations)

  • other possible limits on the duty to accommodate

  • organizations’ responsibilities to prevent and eliminate discrimination, and how they can create environments that are inclusive and free from discrimination."

In particular, the Policy section 8. Duty to accommodate outlines legal obligations of government, public and private sector employers, service providers and landlords to comply with accessibility standards. These entities are obligated to provide accommodations to people with disabilities who may require specific supports to be able to correctly use waste storage facilities on site.

We recommend speaking to your landlord or the building management about arranging accommodations that are appropriate for your specific situation. You may use our template letter to submit a formal request for accommodations. In case accommodations are not arranged in a timely manner, it may be appropriate to then initiate a complaint through the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Alternatively, consider reaching out to a sympathetic neighbour to ask if they can provide assistance with loading waste.

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