A city official is reminding Toronto residents to refrain from engaging in “dirty recycling” as they sort through and dispose of trash from the holidays.
Annette Synowiec, director of policy, planning and outreach in solid waste management services at the City of Toronto, says it’s important to review what goes into the Blue, Green and Garbage Bins to ensure items to be recycled can actually be diverted from the landfill.
“It’s after the holidays. And what comes after the holidays? Sometimes, a lot more waste that we have to manage,” Synowiec told CBC Toronto. “It’s really important at the City of Toronto that people are knowing how to recycle and dispose of their waste materials properly.”
If recyclable material is contaminated, it cannot be processed properly, and if non-recyclable materials are placed in Blue Bins, it can ruin good recyclable material, she said.
“When we have dirty recycling, that contaminates these recyclables and then that’s not a good enough feed stock to be reprocessed. It doesn’t have that opportunity to become another product.”
Synowiec said residents, particularly those who celebrated the most recent festive season, need to look at items that are made of many materials when sorting through items to be discarded.
“In our recycling, we want to make sure that all of our recycling is clean,” she said.
Find opportunities to reduce and reuse, official says
“Around the holiday season, we know that we often generate a lot of waste. That’s why it’s important during this season that we look for proper ways to sort our waste, as well as find opportunities to reduce and reuse what we already have.”
Holiday gift bags, for example, are often made up of paper, bows and string. The bows and string needs to be removed before they can be recycled. But she said the bags themselves could also be reused next year.
Orange crates are made of wood, paper, metal and plastic mesh. The crate, in the form in which it is sold, cannot be recycled, she said.
“Markets are not there for recycled wood, especially with multi-materials on it,” she said.
Tinsel, on the other part, can be reused because it has “good craft potential,” she said.
In a demonstration at Nathan Phillips Square, Synowiec went through a bag of material to illustrate how residents need to sort their trash. If it is not going to be reused and if it cannot be recycled, it must go into the garbage, she said.
But if, for example, it’s an old plastic toy in good shape, it could have a bit of life in it yet and could be donated.
Food can contaminate recycling material, she reminded residents. And black garbage bags do not belong in Blue Bins.
“If you do have extra recycling during the season, which a lot of us do, then we want to make sure that it’s not it in a black garbage bag. We need to be able to see that it’s clean recyclables in the bag, so we ask that you put it in a clear, transparent bag.”
City urges Toronto residents to be more green
On its website, the city has online resources to help resident sort through their trash. One is the Waste Wizard. Residents can use this resource to find out which items go where.
The city, through its tweets, is also urging residents to be more green in 2020.
Waste less in 2020 by being mindful of the waste you create each day. Then try to refuse, reduce, reuse, repair and repurpose where you can. Making small changes by rethinking what we take, make and throw out can make a big difference. <a href=”https://t.co/r99zr8amO3″>https://t.co/r99zr8amO3</a> <a href=”https://t.co/sPvXSZFt3y”>pic.twitter.com/sPvXSZFt3y</a>
Want to add reducing waste to your <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/2020NewYear?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#2020NewYear</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/goals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#goals</a>? Try replacing single-use items like coffee cups and bags with reusable ones. If we all make small changes, we can make a big difference. <a href=”https://t.co/r99zr8amO3″>https://t.co/r99zr8amO3</a> <a href=”https://t.co/aAsoda6vVq”>pic.twitter.com/aAsoda6vVq</a>
Contamination is the technical name for non-recyclable material or garbage in the recycling system, from leftover food in containers to non-recyclable plastic packaging to more obvious garbage such as clothing and propane tanks.
As it moves through the system, contamination can damage other materials. That can turn tonnes of other perfectly good recyclables into garbage or at least lower their value and make them more difficult to sell to offset the cost of recycling programs.