Recycling was first introduced in the 1970’s. And since then we’ve become more accustomed to the way that it works. In theory, we should all be pro-recyclers… unfortunately there’s still a lot to learn to avoid common recycling mistakes.
I sat down with Rebecca, the communications coordinator at Quinte Waste Solutions to discuss your frequently asked questions about recycling. There’s no time to waste, let’s get learning!
Does tape contaminate recycling?
Rest easy, you don’t have to go hog-wild with removing every last scrap. A small amount of packing tape on a cardboard box will not affect its ability to be recycled.
When paper and cardboard is recycled, it’s basically turned into a big paper slush. During the process the tape easily separates from the paper.
Do you need to remove the plastic film on envelopes?
Last year I shared a post about removing plastic film from envelopes after reading that mixed materials could not be recycled. Similar to the way you can get away with a little bit of tape on a cardboard box, the plastic window in an envelope can easily be recycled. No need to spend five minutes tearing that window out!
Why is recycling dumped into one truck after we sort it?
At Quinte Waste Solutions, their trucks do have separate bins for materials. The recycling facility at Quinte Waste Solutions is a hand-sort facility. From the recycling pickup to shipping is entirely completed by human hands. They are separating the materials, it just looks like they’re being mixed.
A municipality with optical sorting, like Toronto, uses a machine to sort plastics. Therefore pre-sorting doesn’t really need to happen. In theory, their machines should have no problem detecting a number 1 to a number 5 plastic.
Are receipts recyclable?
I was 25 years old when I learned that receipts are recyclable! As long as they are not thermoplastic they can be put into the blue bin. According to Rebecca, your No Frills and Walmart receipts should easily be recycled!
Why do we need to clean our recycling?
There’s a few reasons why we need to wash our recycling and it varies depending on what type of sorting facility is in your municipality.
When the recycling facility uses hand sorting, there are real people who are dealing with your recycling. The facilities are not temperature controlled so on a hot summer’s day that yogurt container or meat packaging is going to stink to high heaven.
Not only that, but if we don’t wash our recycling it can contaminate other recyclables. In the past, Canadian recycling companies would sell recyclables overseas. China and Malaysia have refused to purchase any recyclables from North America.
This means that domestic recyclers demand the creme de la crop. They want the absolute best of the best for as little cost as possible.
The sorting facilities and the recyclers do not wash recyclables. They expect it to be clean when it arrives and will not purchase anything that is unclean.
Therefore, if you’d like to do your part to ensure that the products you’re throwing in the blue bin have a good chance of being reused, give them a wash before putting them onto the curb.
How to find recycling resources
The best method is to simply search the city you live with “recycling” into your search engine of choice.
There is also an app called Recycle Coach which will help remind you to put out your recycling, compost and garbage. They also have a tool that tells you what can be recycled where you live.
Unfortunately, the Recycle Coach app costs municipalities money. If they don’t pay for their information to be added onto the app then it won’t be available in your region.
You may be able to find an app developed specifically for your municipality on the app store by searching the name of the city where you live.