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More of Everything You Thought Was Recyclable…. But Isn’t

Recycling can seem complicated, especially with mixed information coming from all different directions. Let’s focus on our municipal recycling service in Quinte to take a look at what we don’t accept with reasons why.

Before we get into the do’s and don’ts, it is important to remember the goal of recycling. The point of what we accept in our program is to send the material to a manufacturer to be made into something new. Everything we accept should have an end goal so it can easily and efficiently be taken and processed into a new item. Ultimately, the reason why we accept something or not is based on whether a manufacturer is able, willing, and ready to take a material. If something is not accepted, that means we don’t have a place to send it, and therefore we can’t accept it curbside.

Here is the rundown of what we accept in Quinte: clean aluminum, tin cans, and clean plastics with the number symbol #1 #2 #4 #5 #6. #4 is commonly plastic grocery bags and flattened “sealed air” film shipping packaging. We accept fiber material in various forms (cardboard, office paper, milk cartons) and clean glass. We accept white packing styrofoam. To go into detail, follow this link.

 

 

 

 

Moving on to what we don’t accept, and to hopefully ease any confusion, here is the most frequent non-recyclable culprits:

  • Black plastic. A plastic that is dyed black is not accepted through our program. When plastic is dyed black, this is the way we know that the plastic does not have the quality to be made into something new. It is a way to mark plastic at the end of its life cycle. That’s right, plastic has a life cycle and can only be recycled so many times. Simply put, black plastic is garbage.
  • Single Serve Coffee Pods. Even though some of these single serve coffee pods sometimes have a recycling symbol on them and claim to be acceptable through recycling programs, they are often a) too soiled, or b) too small to be recycled. Often the plastic isn’t high quality, it is more likely to be contaminated, and it is more likely to be combined with other non-recyclable material- just like the coffee pods and their coffee pouches or plastic tear off covers. Simply put, coffee pods are garbage.
  • Single Use Paper Cups. Single use paper cups regularly used for coffee or other hot beverages are not accepted in our recycling program. Even though the outside of the cups are paper, the inside is lined with a plastic or wax which protects the cup from disintegrating from the hot liquid. In addition, these cups are often covered with the sticky leftover sweet stuff. You may then ask, “what about the lids?” Well, then we run into the black plastic dilemma. The lids that are recyclable are the white lids, as long as they are clean. We recommend using a reusable travel mug whenever possible! Simply put, paper cups are garbage.
  • Straws. The popular discussion topic regarding straws can be laid to rest- they are not recyclable. Straws are too small and are made from a very low quality plastic. Plus, they’re covered in stickiness! Some alternatives are compostable paper straws, or reusable plastic or steel straws. Simply put, straws are not recyclable.
  • Stand-Up, Zipper-Seal Pouches (commonly in the form of frozen fruit and veggies). These plastic bags could be accepted in our program with the #4 film plastics (recycled by placing it in a bag along with your other grocery bags on top of the fibres/papers blue box), but the reason why we commonly tell people not to put them in the recycling because they need to be fully empty, fully cleaned (washed with soap) and dried. Some people are willing to put the effort in, but for most it will be garbage. Simply put, unless you want to wash and dry it out, put these in the garbage.
  • Textiles. Cloth, clothing, and fabric is a problem because it can’t be recycled (they are made from complicated materials and a different kind of fibers), and clothing gets stuck and wrapped around our machinery causing a new set of problems. We recommend donating reusable items to a local thrift store. If material is soiled or torn, cut it up and use it for cleaning cloths, rags, or bedding for your pets! Simply put, textiles and fabric of all kinds is garbage.
  • Cling Wrap. This plastic is too thin and low quality. Plus, it is often soiled with food! Simply put, cling wrap is garbage.
  • Candy Wrappers and Chip Bags. These materials may seem like plastic on the outside and aluminum on the inside, and they are, that’s the problem! These two materials are sealed together, and it is difficult to separate them to make them into something new. Simply put, plastic plus aluminum lining equals garbage.
  • Wood. Even though paper and wood both come from trees, only one is recyclable. Wood is not refined like paper is. This means popsicle sticks, wooden fruit boxes and crates should be reused or thrown in the garbage. Simply put, wood of all kinds should not go in the blue box.

Do you have questions? We’re here to help. Call us at 613 394 6266 if you need clarification.