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Recycling FAQs

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Why don't you take glass in curbside recycling?

Before we designed our curbside recycling program we sought the advice and expertise of other municipalities and recycling facilities across Canada. When asked, “if they were starting all over again, would they take glass?” Their response was to not take it for the following reasons:
• occupational health and safety issues,
• contamination of other materials,
• low dollar value for the product.

Glass breaks during the recycling collection and sorting process. When it breaks it becomes an occupational health and safety issue as it is dangerous for the people sorting.

Broken glass can easily contaminate other recycling material which is problematic for the manufacturers buying the material. Their equipment can become jammed, parts can break, and equipment may not work as smoothly because of the glass resulting in an inferior product. Then the manufacturers’ customers are not satisfied or they may have to dispose of the product because it cannot be sold. Therefore, a clean product to sell to the manufacturers is what we want to provide. This will ensure that our material gets recycled.

Today glass is not in high demand. The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a moment to note how many plastic containers are used compared to glass containers. You will find that there are far more plastic containers. If there is low demand for the material then the market price will be low. High gasoline prices, breakage of glass containers and plastic being inexpensive to purchase to make containers all contribute to less glass being used for food, resulting in lower demand for it.

The Green Depots do take deposit-bearing glass beverage containers (ie: juice, pop, wine, imported beer, etc) and domestic beer bottles can be returned to a beer retailer for refund and reuse. Glass jars can be reused for storage of different things from food to nuts and bolts, nails and more things.

Click here to listen to an interview with recycling advocate Helen Spiegelman on the CBC Radio show The 180: Helen Spiegelman looks at the environmental and economic concerns of glass recycling, and comes to an interesting solution.

How does the curbside recycling work – is recycling picked up with your garbage?
The curbside recycling is collected bi-weekly (every second week) and collected in a separate truck from the garbage. The garbage trucks and the recycling trucks look the same. The trucks have 2 compartments in the back so container recyclables go in one compartment and paper recyclables in the other.

Will the City provide blue boxes to residents for recycling?
We have a blue bag recycling program. Contents put in an open box will blow around in our exceptionally windy conditions. Putting recyclables in a bag will prevent them from being scattered throughout neighbourhoods. You can use more than one blue bag for each type of recycling (paper or containers), meaning you can put more recycling to the curb in blue bags than you can in blue bins. You can buy see-through blue bags at most retail stores where you buy your garbage bags. These blue bags will be recycled.

Why do I have to use blue bags? Can I use other see-through bags for my recycling?
Across Canada many curbside recycling programs require the use of blue bags. There are a number of reasons for this and some of them include:

  • Blue bags are recyclable in our Recycling Facility while other colour bags are not.
  • Blue bags work in the bag breaker machinery in our Recycling Facility because they are thin and can easily be ripped open; other bags are often thicker and can jam the machinery.
  • When recyclables are in blue bags our collectors know it is recycling in the bags; it is more difficult for them to determine if items in clear/colourless bags are meant for recycling or garbage.


Will my personal information on paper, bills, etc be secure if I put it in curbside recycling?
We recommend that you shred any paper items that contain personal information before you put it in your blue bag for curbside recycling. Shredded paper can be put in a blue bag along with other paper items including cardboard and boxboard.


Why don't you take plastic bags, like disposable grocery store bags, in curbside recycling?
When we researched the markets for plastic bags they were not willing to purchase them from new customers. They were having a difficult time even selling the bags from their existing customers. As well, there were very strict requirements for the bags. They had to be very clean, free from any kind of debris in the bags including cash register receipts.

As well, we were advised by our consultants to not include them in the program as they would create some serious problems for our sorting and processing equipment by getting tangled and wrapped around the equipment breaking parts, causing it to not operate properly. This would mean increased downtime for removing the bags and replacing broken parts.

When the equipment is not operating properly then bags can get into other materials and end up contaminating other loads of recycling. If the load of recycling has contamination, it becomes problematic for the manufacturer by affecting their equipment, creating an inferior product for to sell. Then they have to deal with customer dissatisfaction or they may have to dispose of the product if it cannot be sold. Therefore, a clean product to sell to the manufacturers is what we want to provide. This will ensure that our material gets recycled.

We encourage you to reduce your use of disposable plastic shopping bags by using reusable bags. Many people find that the reusable bags are stronger, sturdier and hold more groceries. The reusable bags don’t fall over as easily so you don’t have to repack your groceries. People find keeping the bags in their vehicle helps in having them handy when they head out to do some shopping.

Plastic bags can be returned to most grocery stores for recycling. 

 Why don't you take styrofoam?

Even though the manufacture puts a recycling symbol on most styrofoam packaging it doesn't mean that it is acceptable in the City's program.

We cannot take any styrofoam for the following reasons:

• some styrofoam can break up easily causing contamination of other material,
• styrofoam markets are limited and have very high standards for this material,
• the market value is very, very low for such high standards.

When we were doing our research for what items we would take in our program, we spoke to other recycling operators in other parts of Canada. Most said to not take styrofoam as it will contaminate your other material. When buyers purchase, lets say newspaper, they do not want other material included with it as it will create unwanted headaches in their processing causing them to produce an inferior end product which their customers do not want. When a bale of material has too much contamination it can end up going to the landfill.
When buyers are very satisfied with the shipped material they receive they will always buy your material. Currently, we are noted for our clean material being sold.

We made our decision based on the above reasons.

Can I recycle envelopes with the plastic windows? What about staples? Glossy advertisements? Post-its?
You'll like the answer to this one. All of these items are fine to toss into the "Paper" recycling blue bag. In the recycling process, all paper, even the glossy, is converted to pulp, and all non-natural fibres such as metal will be strained out. So don't waste your time removing staples or plastic windows!

Do I have to worry about labels?
No. You can leave labels on your plastic bottles and metal cans!

How important is it that I prepare recyclables correctly?
It is extremely important to prepare items correctly before placing them in your blue bags. This means:

  • Clean out obvious food residue from your containers.
  • Remove bottle caps (so that residue can evaporate and not add weight and mess).
  • Please take a few extra seconds and move any items inappropriately placed in the recycling bag to the trash.


What if I miss my collection day?
If you miss your collection day you can set out your recyclables the following recyclable collection day, or take them to the Robin Hood Bay Residential Drop-Off Facility, which is open on Tuesday – Saturday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Is there a limit to how much recyclable material I can put out?
There is no limit on the amount of recycling that you can put out. 

Why do materials have to be bundled with dimensions 2x2x1ft? Didn’t you previously accept larger sized bundles?
The new recycling trucks and garbage trucks are dual compartment, or split-body, trucks and the width of the smallest of these compartments is 2 feet. The garbage trucks we previously used had a width of 6 feet, which is why the acceptable bundle sizes used to be larger.

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