One of the most common reasons that batches of otherwise acceptable recycling are wasted and sent to landfill is due to cross contamination. The wrong items landing in the wrong bins is not only a waste of time for whomever is attempting to divert their garbage, it is also harmful to the recycling equipment, dangerous for employees, and can tarnish a perfectly good batch of recycling.
Last year, an estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage was accidentally put into the recycling stream. That is a preventable dilemma that can solved through simple education and awareness.
Some of the most common garbage diversion mistakes are:
- Discarding food scraps in the blue recycling bin. Food residue and particles can soak into paper and ruin large batches of recycling. Food goes in the green (organics) bin.
- Not rinsing jars and containers can also contaminate recycling. Glass and metal containers should always be cleaned and free of food when they are disposed of.
- Clothing and textiles do not belong in the recycling. They get caught in machines and cause workplace injuries. If your item is in good condition and can be donated, put it in the community donation bin that Hollyburn provides in the laundry room of most of buildings.
- VHS tapes, chains, electrical cords and hoses cannot be recycled. Electrical items are considered e-waste and must be left 2 feet away from garbage bins for separate pick up by the City and many household items (including VHS tapes) can be donated to your local thrift store.
- Coffee cups are sadly not recyclable at this time. White coffee lids and the cup sleeve are recyclable in the blue bin, however plastic lined coffee cups are still garbage. Consider using a reusable mug as a green alternative!
- All it takes are a few simple changes to ensure our collective garbage diversion and recycling efforts are not in vain! For more information, visit your city’s Recycling, Organics and Garbage web page.