The current recycling program in Canada has not been working as it should. The program has been in effect in some form for the past 30 years, but Canadians are still recycling only 9% of plastics. If we have a program in place, then why is it not working?
It's complicated. Years ago, recycling was simple; people separated newspaper, jars, and bottles from their garbage. Today, we eat more premade food contributing to more plastic waste, and not all plastics are recyclable. There are also many things that people recycle that are not recyclable such as eggshells and multi-material packaging.
In addition to all the complications caused by what can and cannot be recycled, it changes depending on where you live. In Toronto, you can not recycle black plastics, but this is acceptable in Vancouver. Knowing what can go into your blue bin is essential because mistakes are costing recycling programs millions each year.
So what can be recycled? As previously mentioned, this is dependant on where you live so please check your local regulations. These are some common rules that many cities follow.
The materials must be cleaned to prevent contamination. If a bin is contaminated, then nothing can be recycled. For example; if a dirty yogurt container were to soil paper in your bin, your whole bin could be considered contaminated and unable to be recycled. Also, any jars and bottles should have lids and labels removed.
If each person can take the time to check their local regulations and handle their recycling correctly, then we can make a significant impact as a population. We will never be 100% free of recyclable materials even if we make the change to reuse. It's time we learn how to dispose of our waste properly.