Thursday 22 October 2015

What Can I Recycle? Tips for Doing It Right

Note: This article was published in 2015. More up-to-date information for the province of Saskatchewan is provided at Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle: Tips for Decluttering Your Home and the Planet, January 14, 2021

We want to do the right thing, but we’re not always sure what we can and can’t recycle. We’re good at the generalities, but the specifics can be tricky. For example, we know we can recycle plastic, but what kinds of plastic?

Staff from Environmental & Corporate Initiatives, City of Saskatoon, provided the following useful tips.

No Sorting Required
Loraas Recycle (curbside recycling) and Cosmpolitan Industries (multi-unit recycling) sort the recycling, making it easier for us to use as we don’t have to separate out the different materials. Much of the sorting is done by machine, but it does require some manual sorting. It’s helpful to keep that in mind when putting items in your recycling bin or cart. (Here’s a video showing how it works.)

Make sure that items are clean. They don’t have to be squeaky clean, but you don’t want to endanger workers’ health by failing to remove food residue or other contaminants.

Don’t try and recycle dangerous items, such as propane tanks, needles, or other hazardous waste. They’ll have to stop the line to remove the item and that costs time and money.

Don’t bag your recycling. If you do, it may be tossed in the trash and sent to the landfill. Loose recyclables can be tossed directly into your cart or bin. It is a good idea to bag plastics and shredded paper.

Don’t try to recycle anything smaller than a credit card (e.g. paper or bottle caps). It will fall through the cracks in the machine and end up in the garbage.

If you can rip it, you can recycle it.

Flatten cardboard boxes to make more room in your bin. You don’t need to remove tape or labels.

Empty cereal, cookie, and cracker boxes can be recycled (remove liners).

You can recycle paper egg cartons.

Pizza boxes can be recycled but need to be clean. Remove any lumps of food or tear off and recycle the clean sections.

Place shredded paper in a clear, tied plastic bag.

Disposable paper cups can’t be recycled as the recycling companies can’t handle the large volume.

Don’t try to recycle food-contaminated paper, diapers, or dirty napkins and paper towels.

Plastic bags: if you can stretch it, you can recycle it. A paper label on the bag is okay.

Zip lock bags can be recycled; so can clean plastic wrap. Just put it all into one plastic bag and tie it.

Plastic containers labelled #1-7 can be recycled. That includes everything from shampoo bottles to laundry jugs. Even some plastic flower pots can be recycled.

Clean soup, juice, and drink boxes can be recycled.

Lids from disposable coffee cups can be recycled.

Styrofoam can’t be recycled in Saskatoon (see below for other options).

Plastic toys and Tupperware can’t be recycled.

Foil pie plates and used aluminum foil can be recycled; just make sure they’re clean.

Metal cans can be recycled. This includes aluminum trays and pie plates, pet food cans, and frozen juice cans.

Jar lids can be recycled.

Outdoor lawn furniture can’t be recycled.

Glass bottles and jars can be placed in the recycling bin, but they are currently being stockpiled rather than recycled (they hope to be able to use it eventually, e.g. as road fill). Glass frequently breaks and only large glass pieces will be stockpiled.

Take wine, spirit, and beer bottles to the SARCAN Recycling Depot. They won’t get broken, and you’ll get your deposit back.

Pyrex or dishware glass, windows and mirrors, ceramics and porcelain can’t be recycled. Try taking them to a charity shop instead.

Other Options
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council’s website helps you find the best places to recycle almost anything from your home and workplace.

London Drugs accepts styrofoam, non-rechargeable batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, plastic folders, small appliances, and recordable media or media storage devices (e.g. VHS tapes).

The SARCAN Recycling Depot accepts beverage containers, paint, electronics, and milk containers.

The City of Saskatoon accepts household hazardous waste once a month at the SaskTel Centre from 9 am - 3:30 pm.

The City has two compost depots open from May to November where you can drop off your unbagged leaves, grass clippings, and non-elm tree trimmings. The Green Cart program is a subscription program that offers curbside collection of unbagged leaves, grass, and other small yard waste for a seasonal fee. Registration for 2016 will open soon.

The City of Saskatoon and Loraas Recycle offers free education programs for schools, community groups, and anyone else who is interested. Loraas Education Room includes interactive touch screen games, trivia, and more.

Photo credits: iStock_000013321780, iStock_000073715973, iStock_000015889240