Image by JayPoz
Sustainability and green living is close to my heart. I’m that friend that makes sure everyone else recycles, and brings reusable water bottles. But even I have been making recycling mistakes and I wanted to share a few waste management lessons with you today.
It’s important to note that recycling rules and regs are not only country specific but city specific, which IMHO is nuts!! But until all municipalities are unified, it’s up to us to take responsibility and learn about what is and isn’t recyclable where we live. It’s also up to us to try and make a difference and potentially improve the process along the way.
1) Don’t Stuff It In
I live in a high rise building and our recycling bins are all the way downstairs. So what I used to do is stuff my recyclables into each other to take up less space, and minimize trips down. But turns out that this wasn’t a good idea at all! All recyclables get sorted with like materials and when a plastic container is stuffed inside of a cardboard box, it might go unnoticed and not get sorted properly. So if you’re going to stuff, stuff like materials… cardboard cracker box inside of a cardboard cereal box etc.
2) Not All Colours Are Equal
In the city f Toronto we aren’t supposed to recycle black plastic – think black take out containers. This is due to the fact that our conveyor belt in the sorting facility is black, and black plastic simply gets missed during sorting and gets dumped in the garbage anyway. So we are encouraged to just dump it in the first place. When I learned this I thought “why don’t they just stop producing black plastic?”. But since there is no consensus between municipalities, some recycling facilities may very well accept black plastic, but perhaps take issue with other colours. So check the rules in your city of residence to see what the deal is there.
3) I Hope You’re Putting Plastic in Your Compost
In the City of Toronto we are discouraged from using biodegradable bags to line our compost (or Green) bins. When the compost reaches the recycling facility and gets grinded up in the giant blender plastic bags float to the top and are then easily removed. Biodegradable bags don’t float to the top, since they are made of a different material and supposed to get decomposed along with food waste. The advantage of using good old regular plastic bags is that it’s easy and cheap! You don’t need to go out of your way to compost. Just reach for a plastic bag, which you’re bound to have no matter how hard you try, and start green-binning. Neighboring regions encourage their residents to use biodegradable bags, so it’s important to check what’s accepted in your area.
4) Food Is No Good
Perhaps you smarties already know this one, but make sure that you rinse your recyclables to rid them of food residue. When food ends up in recycling it may get absorbed into paper and ruin perfectly good batches. So rinse and then go ahead and toss in the blue bin.
Let’s be Greener!
In Toronto, individual households divert about 68% of waste to recycling and compost. Condos and high rises are trailing these stats at about 28%. The combination of the two might not sounds that bad, but we can do much better. If we continue at this rate we will run out of room in our current garbage dump by 2040. The city’s goal is to get to 70% diversion, and I believe we can do it!