2. Use North American (NA) universal colours

2. Use North American (NA) universal colours

Specific colours have become NA universally recognized in denoting waste diversion activities, such as blue for recycling, green for organics/composting and black for garbage/landfill. For decades Ontario communities have been using these colours in their curbside recycling programs; therefore, using these colours for signage and for the bin colours helps to build on the Province-wide standardization of existing waste diversion programs and signals.

Communities with a two stream recycling program will typically use blue for the container stream and will use a variety of colours for the fibre stream including grey (Simcoe County, St. Thomas), blue (Durham Region, City of Peterborough, North Bay), red (City of Windsor, Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority). Other communities use yellow for the fibre stream such as British Columbia. It is more effective to mimic the colour already in use in the municipality’s recycling program for the fibre stream or consider coordinating colours with neighbouring municipalities to participate in future joint procurement activities.

Signage Gallery


See samples of effective and ineffective public space signage in our signage gallery.

Shared Experience

York Region. Public Space Three Stream Waste Diversion Parks Pilot, 2008

York Region developed signs for public space bins, which feature clear messaging and NA universally recognized colours for recycling, compost and garbage. Using the recognized colour as the sign background further strengthened the message and intent of the expected action. In addition, the Region linked the public space activity with the residential recycling program by putting an image of the residential containers used for recycling, composting and waste in the sign. To read more from the report, click here.