December 12, 2017 9:27 pm
Updated: December 18, 2017 6:51 pm

Toronto targeting recycling contamination with bin inspections

Tue, Dec 12: It may seem obvious, but experts say there are still a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Torontonians' recycling and garbage regime. Erica Vella breaks down the basics: what you should and should not put in your blue bin.

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The City of Toronto says it’s lifting the lids on residents’ recycling bins in order to help curb a pricey problem.

Roughly 26 per cent of what gets put in recycling bins is actually garbage, and the city says it’s costing millions of dollars.

“For every percentage point we can reduce that, the city will save between $600,000 and $1 million a year,” said Jim McKay, general manager for Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services Division.

Bin inspections have been happening for several weeks in an attempt to address the issue, he told the Kelly Cutrara Show on Tuesday.

LISTEN: Jim McKay joins Kelly Cutrara on 640 Toronto


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McKay said that blue bins that don’t pass muster will be tagged and educational materials left behind for the residents. The second time around, he said, the bins will be not be collected, and the homeowners will be asked to remove the unrecyclable items.

The city is also mulling issuing fines for those who can’t seem to get the message.

“I hope we never have to go there, we’re certainly not planning on doing that in the very near future because we are seeing some good results, but ultimately we may have to go there for certain residents who just don’t care,” McKay said.

READ MORE: City of Toronto rolls out raccoon-proof green bins

Toronto residents recently received a mailout from the city that explained the contamination issue and provided tips on how to avoid it.

The letter said more than 52,000 tonnes of non-recyclable materials were incorrectly put in blue bins last year.

“The letter was intended to bring awareness to an issue that’s becoming bigger and bigger in the city about the actual cost of all this contamination that we’re finding in recycling,” McKay said.

The top culprits

Food and organic waste: Throw these in your green bin.

Unwashed packaging: Give recyclables a rinse to remove any food. “When you don’t, the residue from items like jars and take-out containers get soaked up by paper and can ruin large batches of otherwise good recyclables,” the city’s website says.

Clothing and other textiles: These items can be donated or thrown out in the trash. “They can get caught in sorting machines, damage equipment and cause workplace injuries at the recycling facility,” the city says.

VHS tapes, chains, hoses and electrical cords: Another hazard that can damage equipment and cause injuries to workers.

Coffee cups: They aren’t recyclable. However, paper sleeves and plastic lids (any colour but black) are recyclable.

Black plastic: Sorry, takeout fans. These containers must go in the garbage. “Even if it’s labelled as recyclable, black plastic is not accepted in the City of Toronto program,” McKay said.

Source: City of Toronto website

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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