Simply put, recycling is the process of converting unwanted materials into new products and packaging. This is a great technique that helps us to divert tonnes of materials from landfills each year! Blue Box recycling became mainstream in Ontario in the late 1980s. It is about to go through a major change as industries that produce packages and products that are in the Blue Box will be paying the full cost of the recycling system and take responsibility for the materials that are collected starting in 2023.
However, it’s important to recognize that many of the items that we recycle (like some bottles and packaging; magazines and books, etc.) could be reduced or eliminated entirely if we avoid buying these items in the first place. Recycling is an important part of the waste management conversation, but it is not the first or only part! Learn more about reducing your waste here.
One of the major challenges with recycling is sorting items into two streams (for many communities in Ontario). If we don’t sort our recyclables correctly, these items will “contaminate” the recycling stream and result in additional sorting at the processing stage. Also, never ‘wish-cycle’, meaning I wish I could recycle this). Both these situations can make valuable recyclables less valuable and difficult to find end-markets. Recycling cannot succeed unless there are end-markets that pay reasonable prices and make new products and packages. Sorting it right helps to close the loop on recycling.
This is a good question to ask yourself before you put an item in your recycle bin. For example, egg cartons and toilet paper rolls make great seedling starter pots. Sauce and salsa jars can be washed and reused to store bulk ingredients (which you can refill at stores like Bulk Barn and Bulk Barrel). Large plastic pop bottles can be turned into bird feeders. For each item you want to recycle, there is at least one way to repurpose it. So do a Google search and find ways to transform your waste!
If you aren’t the crafty type, another option is to see if other stores, recycling services, or even neighbours will accept them. The City of London has put together a handy guide of places that accept items (in addition to their EnviroDepots). Click here for the pdf guide.
Put waste in its proper place! The Recycle Coach App makes it easy to learn how to sort your garbage and recycling to prevent contaminated recycling. Simply type in the item you are looking to sort, and the app will tell you where it goes. Visit the Recycle Coach here.
Did you know that not all waste items can be collected curbside? Certain household waste items like electronics, tires, metal, appliances, flourescent bulbs and tubes, fats oils, and greases, propane tanks, batteries, etc. should be dropped off at EnviroDepots so they can be recycled.
In addition to accepting waste, the EnviroDepots can help you reduce your waste! Pick up a compost bin, recycling bins, woodchips, mulch, and soil/compost mixes (at certain sites). You can purchase a compost bin at subsidized prices (as low as $35!) at the City’s EnviroDepots. Click here to learn more about EnviroDepots and their locations.
The Material Recovery Facility (MRF) is where our recyclables like metal cans, plastic bottles, and paper items are further sorted and processed. Take a virtual tour of London’s Recycling Centre from home! Click here to take the virtual tour.