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Blue bin battle: How Toronto is fighting to keep your recycling garbage-free

Date July 7, 2017 Author Lucy Robinson Categories News

You know that paper Tim Hortons or Starbucks coffee cup? It’s not recyclable in Toronto. It’s garbage. Who knew, right?

From coffee cups with wax linings to black plastic (including bags), bed sheets to car parts, and even dead pets – they’re all items wrongly thrown into Toronto’s recycling blue bins each year. In fact, a quarter of all things sent to the curb to be recycled shouldn’t be there, according to city figures. Sorting the garbage from the recycling costs millions of dollars annually.

So the city is implementing a pilot project hoping to re-educate Torontonians about what is and is not recyclable.

Dubbed “Recycle Right,” the six-month pilot has summer staff hitting the streets hours ahead of collection trucks to inspect – and tag with yellow warning tickets – blue recycling bins that appear to be sorted improperly.


City staff say that, each year, the city resells about $20-million worth of recycled materials back into the market. But it’s looking to reduce its costs from the $5-million it pays yearly to separate the garbage incorrectly mixed in with recycling by city residents.

On a sunny morning in June, Kyle Oliver worked with his colleague Shelby Watt on Sword Street in Cabbagetown. If the bin looks “25-per-cent contaminated,” Mr. Oliver and Ms. Watt tag it with a yellow warning and a recycling pamphlet. The bin then gets left unemptied on the curb, a tactic the city hopes will result in its owner doing a better job at sorting recyclables.

Read more from the Globe and Mail





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