What Are Waste Transfer Stations And How Do They Work?

By February 14, 2018Blog
Waste Management Station

The City of Toronto and several independent waste disposal companies such as Romano Disposal Services Inc. have Toronto transfer stations. So, what are waste transfer stations and what are their benefits?

Waste transfer stations are industrial facilities where municipal solid waste is temporarily stored before it is eventually transferred to a waste-to-energy facility or a landfill. Transfer stations are fully enclosed for safety and security reasons.

In some cases, transfer stations are sometimes co-located with material recovery facilities. Material recovery facilities are specialised plants that receive, separate, and prepare recyclable materials before selling them to end-user manufacturers.

At transfer stations, waste from different parts of the city come in using smaller to mid-size tracks and is consolidated and then transferred in large, long-distance trucks to the appropriate disposal facilities. If the waste is not already dense, it will be compacted at the transfer station for easy evacuation.

So, what can you take to a transfer station? According to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, anything that can be taken to a landfill can be taken to a transfer station. This includes recyclable items like cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminium, and glass and unrecyclable items like foodstuffs, black plastics, and overly-dyed paper.

Other than compactors, you will also find scales, cranes, front-end loaders, conveyors, and walking floors here. Staffing includes scale house operators, equipment operators, traffic controllers, and maintenance mechanics.


What benefits do transfer stations offer?

  1. The greatest benefit of a transfer station is that it reduces waste management costs drastically. In Toronto, landfills are few and quite removed from the city and transportation costs would be hefty. Cost reductions are also from the fact that waste is gathered from different users, combined, compacted, and then transported.
  1. Transfer stations ensure everything does not end up in a landfill. This is the green option because recyclables can go to the relevant recycling plant. Hazardous waste will also go to the right place such as an incinerator.
  1. Landfills are also a green option because the combination of waste from different areas means fewer vehicles are needed to evacuate the waste, meaning less pollution. The fuel saving also means cost benefits.
  1. The ever growing city of Toronto already has heavy traffic. Reduction in the number of trucks headed to landfills means reduced traffic congestion.


What goes on in a transfer station?

Arrival and weighing

Once inbound vehicles come in, they are directed to the weigh scale and their weight taken. A deposit is then paid before being directed to the specific area for the drop-off.

Unloading and processing

Once the solid waste is dropped off, it is sorted to ensure there are no hazardous waste and incorrect items and that the recyclable materials end up in the right place. Note that trucks that only have garbage drop-off the waste in an area that does not require sorting.


Once the truck drops off the waste, it is re-weighed and the net weight taken. This is the weight that is used to come up with the final cost. A receipt is then generated, and you are required to pay before leaving the transfer station.