Reckless Recycling! What Goes Where and How To Avoid Fines
At Rebels HQ, we are all about a delicious silky latte, no matter what time of year. So you can imagine our horror when we read that 1.6 billion paper and polystyrene cups are thrown out by Canadians every year. For those that are visual learners, the equivalent of 22,900 elephants is dumped into the landfills each year. One million of those paper cups are thrown away every day in Toronto alone. Every day. Environmental. Nightmare.
Part of the problem is that single-use paper drinking cups are lined with plastic. This helps the cups keep their shape so they don’t get soggy holding hot liquids. This means, contrary to popular belief, that they can’t be recycled and can’t be composted. That’s right, single use cups (like Starbucks and Timmy's) are trash. The black plastic lids are trash too. Plastic straws? Trash. The problem is that when garbage, like single use coffee cups, lids and straws are thrown in with the recycling it compromises the integrity of the system and contaminates the recycling stream. So much so in fact that Toronto has implemented a pilot project hoping to re-educate Torontonians about what is and is not recyclable. This means they will be checking your blue bin before collection and if there's more than 25% contamination then you will get a "yellow tag" warning and your bin will be left uncollected. Bet that got your attention!
Over the last few years, coffee chains have been giving push back and offering their own in-store recycling programs. However, a CBC Marketplace investigation in 2016 found that many paper cups collected by some Toronto Starbucks and Tim Hortons locations for recycling were actually sent to landfills, and not to a recycling plant.
Bottom line, there are lots of easy fixes to keep ensuring your blue bins are collected.
- Bring your own bags for groceries and produce to eliminate single use plastic bags.
- Bring your own coffee cup, water bottle and cold cup. Keep one in your car or office so you don't have to worry about "forgetting".
- Say NO to unnecessary packaging, lids, straws, utensils you don’t need, etc. When ordering take-out or delivery, ask them to leave out utensil packs if you have them at home.
- Ensure all your food containers are rinsed and clean of food waste.
- Buy in bulk when you can. Individually wrapped containers (especially for kids' products) are a major source of landfill waste. Farmer's Markets are a great way to reduce single use packages.
- Brush up on the recycling rules in your area! Check what is acceptable and what isn't.
Reckless recycling causes more trash, not less, and costs a lot of money. We don’t need to tell you our goal as humans is to decrease our landfill - not increase it. Reducing single-use cups, water bottles, containers, straws and bags is an easy fix. We aren’t suggesting you forgo your favourite cuppa or take out, hell no! We are simply suggesting you rebel against single-use containers and bring your own. They are sleeker and chicer!
If you aren't sure, ask the Waste Wizard. Just pop the name of what you are wanting to dispose of and it will tell you what bin to throw it in. Cool, right?!