Blog/ The Worst Products for Recycling July 23, 2018

The Worst Products for Recycling

Photo by Alfonso Navarro on Unsplash

Starbucks recently announced their plans to eliminate plastic straws from stores worldwide by 2020. They will instead be using a strawless lid for cold drinks. For those with need, Starbucks will offer an alternative straw made from paper or compostable plastic. Starbucks’s headquarters is located in Seattle, a city which just started a ban on plastic straws. In Canada, Vancouver has also passed a ban on plastic straws which will begin in the fall of 2019.

In recognition of the harm that plastics and other materials have on the environment, we have compiled a list of the worst products for recycling, as well as tips to make sure what you do recycle ends up being put to good use.

Items That Cannot Be Recycled

  • Styrofoam – the polystyrene in styrofoam is not biodegradable
  • Plastic bubble wrap – most plastic can be recycled, but the particular form of plastic used for bubble wrap cannot be
  • Waxed cardboard and items that are wax coated
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cellophane
  • Shower liners
  • Coffee pods (these can be very bad for the environment due to the amount of waste involved)
  • Items that are soiled with food (more on this below)
  • Cereal Liners
  • Black plastic
  • Candy bar wrappers

How to Ensure Your Items Can Be Recycled

  • Rinse all food off of any recyclables before they’re placed in the recycling bin
    • This includes yogurt containers
    • Peanut butter jars
  • Remove any liners from boxes – then decide if the liner is recyclable itself
  • Remove ribbons and bows from gift wrap that is recyclable
  • Check your cities recycling rules on plastic bags – some locations do not accept them as recycling
  • Garbage bags go into the garbage

The Problem in Canada

Because of improper or incorrect handling of recyclable items, Canada’s recycling programs are spending millions every year. Toronto and Edmonton are two of the highest recycling offenders – sometimes this can be due to good intentions without understanding the cities’ particular recycling rules, and sometimes it’s out of sheer laziness. Garbage, as always, does not go into recycling bins. Items that are incorrectly put into the recycling still go through the process, but then get thrown out as garbage – it’s a high price (literally) to pay for something that never ends up being reused.

To compound the problem, China recently implemented bans and restrictions on which type of recyclables they will accept in order to clean up their own country in terms of waste materials. There are now 24 types of solid waste they will no longer accept. Canada sent a lot of their recycling there, and now is tasked with finding their own in-country solutions.

To be a part of this solution, check with your local recycling ordinances and be vigilant about what goes in the blue bin.

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