BEECHEY: Most of us recycle incorrectly

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What is the sensible solution to our recycling/garbage problems?

Manufacturers must be stopped producing anything that is not recyclable and must use recyclable materials, which Canada should be producing, especially as China and India are now no longer accepting recyclable materials from the United States and Canada to use in manufacturing.

Alas, until that happens, we will continue to be confused on what we can and can’t recycle. Tillsonburg is in Oxford County, so Norfolk readers, please check your county website (norfolkcounty.ca). Oxford has a poster which is better than the booklet they gave us (oxfordcounty.ca). Please check it out!

The most important lesson learned while researching this is the majority of us recycle incorrectly, to the point that often our blue boxes are contaminated, and everything in them goes in the landfill.

‘Contaminated’ can mean items were not cleaned and grow bacteria or too many non-recyclable items were in the box so the cost of separating the items is too great and they are dumped.

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I thought I knew what I was doing… until I went online. What plastics you can recycle is a big problem. The ones marked from 1-7 in Oxford are good, but to find the mark on some coffee drink lids you need a magnifier! Some other plastics that we can put through our transfer station are listed online.

Too much, however, is not getting recycled, like cigarette butts. Those filters are littered everywhere. First, we must get the smokers in our lives to stop tossing the butts on the ground. Most do not realize the butts are toxic and get swept by rain into our water systems. Did you know the filters are plastic and can take up to 10 years to degrade, the whole time leeching poisons?

There is a company called TerraCycle (headquarters in New Jersey) that receives items from around the world! According to their website (terracycle.com), TerraCycle is ‘Eliminating the Idea of Waste’ by recycling the ‘non-recyclable, ‘ including coffee capsules, pens, and plastic gloves. TerraCycle says it can collect and recycle almost any form of waste, partnering with individual collectors as well as major consumer product companies, retailers, manufacturers, municipalities, and small businesses in 20 countries, diverting millions of pounds of waste from landfills and incinerators each month.

They have free recycling programs with many well-known partnering companies, including Febreze, Gillette, Hasbro Toys, and Rubbermaid. It is eye opening to just scroll the list and see how much is not normally recyclable.

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It is primarily a volunteer-based recycling company – it is up the public to do the collecting and mailing. Some areas have drop-off places and others you will have to organize the collecting, BUT there is something in it for you too! While you do good for the planet, you collect points, so the more good you do the more points you get. The points are then redeemed for donations to charities and non-profits of your choice!

Please take the time to teach the whole family what you can and can’t recycle. Look at the packaging to see if it is recyclable before you buy it and start considering alternatives. Get inspired and inventive with things that can’t be recycled and keep them out of the dump.

lbeechey@rogers.com

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