Tossing the wrong things into blue bins is proving to be a costly mistake paid for by cities directly and indirectly through taxpayers. The bill as a result of this carelessness runs into the millions in many cities especially big ones like Toronto.
When garbage gets mixed in with what is meant to be salvaged it contaminates the rest of the recycled material and becomes quite worthless.
In Toronto, about 25 per cent of all material placed in blue boxes in 2017 was non-recyclable, according to a report submitted to city council’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. That number is projected to rise to 27 per cent in 2018.
More online shopping, delivered meals, even the rise of digital news is changing the mainstays of what makes up recycling, he said. Today’s bins are full of black plastic food containers, cardboard, coffee cups and pods, and stand-up re-sealable freezer bags. Newspaper, glass, tin and aluminum used to be the norm.
McKay said new problem items are finding their way into blue bins when they shouldn’t.
While most people pay little mind to what happens after the truck picks up their recyclables. In Toronto, the reality is big business and revenues are increasingly in jeopardy.
Toronto’s public works committee noted that an additional $4 million was spent in processing fees paid to Canada Fibers Ltd. under the current agreement, if the contamination rate surpass 27 per cent in 2018.
China is the world’s largest market for recycled material. In July 2017, Beijing’s Ministry of Environmental Protection told the World Trade Organization that it intends to ban 24 types of waste and impose strict contamination limits on other materials. Under the proposed rules, contaminated recyclables can only account for 0.5 per cent.
That spells trouble for jurisdictions where too many black plastic take-out trays are turning up in blue bins.
Toronto is already struggling to keep up with sheer volume of new and problematic materials entering the flow of recycled goods.
The 2016 Waste-Free Ontario Act shifts the onus from government to industry to collect and recycle paper products and plastic packaging.
Items not to be put in your blue bin
• Biodegradable plastic containers and film (e.g. compostable plastic bags)
• Any type of black coloured plastic
• Laminated plastic film (e.g. chip bags and stand-up resealable pouch bags)
• Snack food bags (potato chips, peanuts, cookies)
• Foil gift wrap
• Aluminum foil
• Coffee pods – both regular and compostable (e.g. Keurig, Tassimo)
• Paper that is soiled or wax-coated
• Meat wrapping paper (butchers paper) should be placed in the garbage bin
• Plastic pre-packaging for meat and cheese (plastic is not soft, stretchy)
• Household cling wrap (is made of PVC – poly vinyl chloride, which is not a recyclable product)
• Cellophane (e.g. gift basket wrap)
• Cereal liners
• Pool covers
• Shower liners
• Boat wrap
• Plastic bubble wrap
• Candy bar wrappers
• Waxed cardboard (must be placed in garbage)
• Paper items that are wax coated (many frozen food boxes) or soiled with food (e.g. paper towels/tissues, coffee filters, sugar/flour bags, etc.) belong in the green bin – CINEWS