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Are you recycling wrong? What can and can’t go into the blue box

Jul. 3, 2019

Recycling extends the life of landfills by diverting items from the dump.

In Waterloo Region, people are overwhelmingly doing their part, but just because they’re recycling doesn’t mean they’re doing it right.

The region says the most efficient way to recycle is by sorting paper and plastic bags into one box and bottles and cartons in another.

“The most important thing to think about recycling is about separating materials into two boxes,” says Kathleen Barsoum, coordinator of waste management.

There’s a reason you're not supposed to put plastic bags in with other plastics: the difference between rigid and flexible plastics means flexible ones are more susceptible to absorbing bits of food. Recycled items that absorb food can't be recycled.

Barsoum also says that they can’t necessarily accept items just because they say they’re recyclable.

“We cannot accept coffee pods into the blue box program,” she gives as an example. Styrofoam and mixed materials are also on that list. Chip cans, which have metal at the end but are mostly made of paper, are also off-limits.

As a whole, the region has improved its recycling habits: 65 per cent of household waste is going into the diversion program, a 14 per cent increase in just two years.

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