1. Conduct Set Out Monitoring

1. Conduct Set Out Monitoring

Understanding the current waste set out habits of local residents prior to adopting bag limits informs the decision on initial limits and ultimate targets. Set out monitoring is a relatively easy procedure that involves recording the type and amount of materials (waste, recycling, organics) being set out for curbside collection or brought to a depot (no curbside collection).

  • To read more about conducting curbside set out monitoring, click here.
  • To read more about conducting set out monitoring for a drop-off depot, click here.

a. Curbside Set Out Monitoring

For more information on waste composition studies see the CIF Center of Excellence Waste Composition Studies web page and the CIF Waste Composition Guide – Considerations for Small Municipalities.

Conducting set out monitoring generally requires the following steps:

  • Identify 100 households to be monitored during each curbside collection day. Read more.
  • Choose neighbourhoods that represent the socio-economic diversity of the community. It is a better practice to choose 10 households in a row per neighbourhood to ensure a representative sample.
  • Prepare the collection log sheets before the monitoring by recording the addresses.
  • At the beginning of the collection day, drive the collection route and record the set out of waste, recycling and organics (if applicable). The log sheet will prompt you to fill in the number of waste bags set out and the fullness of each bag. In the case of the recycling and organics, the log sheet will enable you to fill in the number of Blue Boxes and Green Bins set out and their fullness.
  • Make sure to note any anomalies, such as improper set out of the Blue Box.
  • Continue to monitor the same households over a period of time, at least one month is recommended.
  • At the end of each monitoring cycle, enter the information for each household into an excel spreadsheet. If you have 2 bags of waste that are recorded as half full then enter 0.5 + 0.5, which will add to 1 (full bag of waste). Do the same for Blue Box set out and Green Bin set out, if applicable. View an example.
  • At the end of each monitoring day, determine the average number of waste bags set out per neighbourhood and overall. Do the same for Blue Box and Green Bin set out, if applicable.

Using a pre-programmed tablet during the monitoring can reduce the time required to enter the data into a spreadsheet afterwards.

Example of a Set Out Monitoring Log Sheet (Click here to download an excel version)

How Many Households to Sample

Waste composition studies typically target 100 households by assigning 10 households per neighbourhood. All socioeconomic strata of the community should be represented if possible. This helps provide baseline information used to target participation in waste diversion programs, design/target P&E and establish initial bag limits. Larger and more diverse communities may require additional households be monitored.

The CIF has also published a Waste Composition Guide – Considerations for Small Municipalities, intended to help smaller communities that do not have the resources/size to target 100 households but still wish to conduct a waste audit.

How To Use Set Out Monitoring Information

The set out data collected is typically used for the following 6 purposes:

  1. Determine the average number of waste bags set out over a fixed time period.
  2. Identify neighbourhoods that are above and below the average set out volume.
  3. Identify neighbourhoods that are under participating in the Blue Box program.
  4. Identify neighbourhoods that are experiencing high Blue Box contamination rates.
  5. Identify neighbourhoods that are under participating in the Green Bin program.
  6. Identify neighbourhoods that are experiencing high Green Bin contamination rates.

This information can be used to develop targeted promotion and education (P&E) and enforcement strategies for neighbourhoods experiencing set out and/or contamination challenges. Average set out volumes can be used to justify initial bag limits prior to adoption of the policy.


b. Drop Off Depot Set Out Monitoring

For additional information see the CIF Depot Pre Screening Survey and Depot Waste Composition Study Worksheets.

Conducting depot set out monitoring typically requires the following steps:

  • Fix the number of depots and time frame to monitor the amount of waste and recyclables and/or other waste streams/organics brought to the depot.
  • Develop monitoring log sheets
  • Record the address, amount of waste, recycling and organics (if applicable) being brought for disposal. The log sheet will prompt you to fill in the number of waste bags received and the fullness of each bag. In the case of recycling/organics, the log sheet will enable you to fill in the equivalent number of Blue Boxes/Green Bins received and their fullness.
  • Make sure to note any anomalies, such as high contamination levels.
  • At the end of each day, enter the information for each residential customer into a spreadsheet. If you have two bags of waste that are recorded as half full then enter 0.5 + 0.5, which will add to 1 (full bag of waste). Do the same for Blue Box/Green Bin set out, if applicable. See example below.
  • Determine the average number of waste bags received for the residential customers. Do the same for Blue Box and Green Bin set out, if applicable.

TIP Using a pre-programmed tablet during the monitoring can reduce the time required to enter the data into a spreadsheet afterwards.

Example of a Depot Monitoring Log Sheet

How To Use The Set Out Monitoring Information

The set out information can be used for the following purposes:

  1. Determine average number of waste bags received by residents per visit.
  2. Identify high contamination rates in the Blue Box.
  3. Identify high contamination rates in the Green Bin.

This information can be used to develop targeted P&E and enforcement strategies for the community to mitigate contamination challenges prior to adoption of any new depot bag limits.