How to prepare items properly for recycling

Pop quiz! Can all paper cups used for hot beverages go in your blue bin for recycling? Can black plastic frozen food trays and cup lids be recycled? Is it alright to put broken glass in with other glass items?

The answer is no — none of these items should be put in your recycling bin.

Many hot beverage cups have a plastic lining that clogs up the pulp recycling process. Black plastic can’t be identified by sorting scanners. And glass bottles are acceptable, but broken glass isn’t safe for the city recycling handlers or the machines. Broken glass needs to be wrapped in paper and put in your regular garbage.

Improper recycling (called contamination) is costing cities — and therefore taxpayers — millions of dollars to sort out.

A few big cities across Canada, such as Vancouver, have admirable contamination scores that are as low as 4.4 per cent (the percentage of items that don’t belong in a bin).

However many other cities, such as Toronto, have a contamination rate as high as 26 per cent, and therefore more education and encouragement is required.

How to prepare items for recycling

Keeping up with what can and can’t be recycled can be confusing — especially when some items feature the recycling logo. However it can depend not only on the item but what’s left inside.

For example, a plastic peanut butter jar may be recyclable, but not with a dollop of peanut butter in it. Likewise, a pizza box with pizza crusts and dipping sauce inside is considered contaminated because it contains food waste. Insure that all containers are emptied, and all liquids are poured out of bottles, so that these items do not end up wasted.

Consult your city recycling guide

The best way to keep current on what can go in your blue bin, green composting bin and what needs to be delivered to a hazardous waste, electronics or construction waste depot, is to consult your city guide. These guides also expand on how the items need to be cleaned or prepared before they should go into your bin. A quick online search should provide access to yours.

City apps and websites provide fast answers

Toronto launched a handy app called TOwaste with more than 2,000 items listed to guide you on what can be recycled and how. The Waste Wizard feature includes a search tool, and depot and donation locations. The app also has the ability to issue alerts on your smartphone so you don’t miss special pick up days for large items like furniture. You can also visit the City of Toronto’s website for information.

For the Vancouver area, Recycle BC has an app that includes a materials search tool and how to recycle the item, or you can visit the RecycleBC website for information. Both also advise on your collection day, the nearest depot locations, and the app provides the ability to send notifications to you regarding the collection schedule.

Hire a HeyBryan Expert to haul special items away for recycling

For items that can’t be put at your curb for recycling, contact a HeyBryan Expert who specializes in Pickup and Delivery, or Junk Removal home-services. These Experts have been vetted by the Bryan Baeumler team for their experience, and will have the equipment and know how to get these items disposed of properly. Make sure to let the Expert know exactly what the items are and discuss a price that also includes the cost of the city depot’s charge.

So all you need to know is in the palm of your hand — an app for what to recycle, and the HeyBryan app for an Expert who’ll help you get rid of any large or unusual items that need special disposal treatment. Let’s get recycling!

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