Recycling may seem as easy as putting paper in one bin and plastic in the other, but it’s not that simple.
Many recycling centres, including in Powell River, have to deal with things that clog their conveyors, items that belong in the landfill or items containing materials that can be toxic for workers. Since we cannot just dump our garbage to Asia anymore, we have to take it upon ourselves to be vigilant.
The number one issue is that most plastic does not get recycled. According to a report from BC Hydro, Canadians discarded 3.3 million tonnes of plastic in 2016, and 85 per cent of it went into landfills. A lot of that was recyclable, but many items included in that report are things such as plastic coolers and toys, which are not recyclable at all.
Electronics can also pose a difficult problem if not disposed of correctly, since they can contain harmful components like mercury. BC has an electronics recycling program in place, and the Thermostat Recovery Program allows residents to drop off their thermostats to be disposed of properly. There are many electronic recycling drop-off pointsthroughout the province that will take old electronics.
Cleaning recyclables before throwing them in the bin also makes a huge difference. According to BC Hydro, just a few spoonfuls left in a peanut butter jar can contaminate a tonne of paper. Oil-soaked pizza boxes actually belong in a landfill, since the oil can be costly to clean at the depots and cause damage to the machines.
Even little things such as separating the components of your coffee cup into the assigned bins or searching how to recycle something properly you’re unsure about can be helpful. Implementing environmentally-friendly concepts like reusable coffee cups and cutting down on single-use plastics can mitigate the amount of unnecessary waste in landfills.