Time to Clean Up Recycling

May 2021

Test your recycling knowledge.  Answer true or false for each statement.

  1. Use biodegradable bags for storing and discarding of organics.
  2. Plastic shopping bags are discarded as organics.
  3. Plastic items can be recycled.
  4. Shredded documents can be recycled.

In all cases, the answer will depend on where you live.  Each can be answered as true or false.

The Blue Box program operates throughout Toronto and neighbouring municipalities with bins for recycling, organics and trash.  For the most part this has been successful despite the confusing array of rules.  While these rules probably make sense to somebody, they are too unwieldy for most people to remember.  Too many items are misclassified thus tainting recycled material.

We have a green bin for organics, blue box for recycling, and trash which encompasses everything else.  Yet nobody is clear about what goes where.  Rules differ between municipalities.  Someone living in Mississauga and working in Toronto must follow different rules at work and home.  Many simply give up and discard everything in the nearest receptacle.

Despite the effort Toronto Condo News has expended trying to understand and explain the myriad of rules about discarding refuse, it is easier to point out why so many are confused.

  • Organics should be stored in non-biodegradable bags and discarded in a green bin in Toronto. Some regions disallow non-biodegradable bags.
  • Plastic shopping bags can be discarded as organics except in Peel Region.
  • Shredded documents are considered organics in Brampton and Markham. Treat them as recycling in Toronto and Durham.
  • Kitty litter, not pet hair, is organics in Toronto.
  • Diapers and feminine hygiene products are organics in Toronto. Elsewhere they are trash.
  • Anything coated with wax is trash (incl boxes).
  • Plastic cutlery is trash in Toronto and recycling elsewhere.
  • Plastic wrap and coffee cups are trash.
  • Plastic food containers are recycling – trash if they are black.
  • Laundry soap boxes are trash.
  • Aluminum foil is trash in Toronto and recycling in York Region.
  • Shampoo bottles can be recycled but not plastic tubes used for cream, toothpaste or shampoo.
  • Styrofoam is recycling in Toronto and Peel but trash elsewhere.
  • Coffee pods – most are unsure what to do with them.

This confusing array of rules has been created partially to reflect the local market for recycled materials and equipment used for processing recycling.  The result is a level of complexity nobody can be expected to remember when it comes time to discard waste.  Reducing our landfill waste depends on simplifying these confusing and inconsistent rules.

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