We heard you loud and clear. You’re recycling your food and beverage cartons but your friends and neighbors are not. We’re here to help! Use the cheat sheet below to bust myths and convert them into recycling heroes.
- Fact: Cartons are mainly made from paper. What someone may think of as “wax” on a carton is actually a thin layer of plastic.
- Fact: Cartons can be recycled into new products such as paper towels, tissues and printing and writing paper. Also, the aluminum and plastic can be used to generate energy or become binding. In other cases, the entire carton can be recycled into building materials, like wallboard and roof cover board.
- Fact: Not crushing your cartons helps the MRF operators sort cartons efficiently. The equipment confuses flat cartons with paper causing cartons to be sorted wrong.
- Fact: Plastic bags can jam up equipment at recycling centers, slowing everything down and preventing recyclables from getting recycled. Instead, place materials in a recycling bin.
- Fact: What can and can’t be recycled varies by community and depends on the recycling facility where the materials go. Cartons are widely accepted for recycling across Canada. For more information, visit the Carton Council’s web site.
It’s an old chestnut of business wisdom, but it may be truer now than ever before.
As China’s National Sword cuts deeply into many of our recycling programs it has become more important to understand the effects of news about our sector on our operating environment. How do consumers, material recycling facilities, materials buyers and the municipalities that rely on revenue from their collections respond or react to good and bad news about the state of recycling?
Good data, makes for good decisions
Data has always been the cornerstone of the best business decisions and yet, within the recycling sector, data is often delivered in annual bundles. In an “ideal” world, we would be able to access more information from more sources to get a more detailed view of the business environment we are operating within. This includes both ‘capture’ information (i.e. how much material is making it to the recycling bin) and recycling information (i.e. how much of that captured material is making it to an end-market for recycling).
Our recent plans to launch an Ontario-wide digital awareness campaign to encourage recycling of cartons brought this issue to the front of our wish list. It would be wonderful to not only know which of our ads has the best affect, in terms of views and clicks but also in real-world measures like the impact of the campaign on the volume of cartons being recovered through local programs.
Things are looking up
Some Ontario-based developments are encouraging in this sense. The recent launch of Waste Wiki, an online, open access resource that houses data, research and literature pertinent to Canada’s waste management sector, is a step in the right direction. And the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority’s new registry, which opened July 4th for tires, is expected to feature a robust reporting function on solid waste recovery performance.
And in neighboring Quebec, all participants at an industry-wide consultation on the state of blue box recycling convened by the Minister last May, agreed on the need for more transparency about the quantities of materials collected and where they end up.
Improvements to our sector’s data collection and data sharing would provide industry organizations and other players with better insights into consumer behaviour and also generate momentum in our independent and joint efforts.
What do YOU think?
I would love to hear your thoughts and –with your permission– share them with our colleagues.
Among the United Nations’ theme days World Environment Day on June 5th is special for encouraging individuals and groups to do something –locally– to take care of the Earth.
We know much needs to be done. In a time of climate change, islands of floating trash in the seas, and pervasive waste around the world, these and other challenges are daunting and difficult to resolve through individual acts.
Yet World Environment Day is a good time to remember how far we have come and how we have contributed to shaping the more environmentally conscious communities we live in today. This acknowledgement is less ‘self-congratulatory’ than motivational because there is so much further to go. By working collaboratively industry, governments, non-government organizations, communities and individuals have made a quantum shift in our relationship to resources we once considered ‘garbage.’
And this must continue.
A nudge from China
The recent change in China’s policy for accepting recyclable materials from outside its borders has shaken up markets for recovered materials. But as we have seen, markets for food and beverage cartons are evolving and growing. Material recycling facilities (MRFs) investing in positive sorting strategies to make a carton-grade are likely to experience these benefits.
As interest and investment in evolving a circular economy in Canada grows, we can look forward to sustainable recycling of cartons and other materials recovered through municipal recycling programs. However, we need to prepare consumers for the changes they need to make to improve the quality of their blue box and the value of the materials therein.
We need to continue efforts to give individuals knowledge that will improve the feedstock arriving at MRFs –ultimately reducing costs and contaminants to capture the value of these resources. For example, greater awareness and consistent behaviour is needed to ensure only the right materials are placed in the blue box and emptied before discarded.
As we acknowledge World Environment Day this month, lets resolve to do more to arm individuals with the knowledge they need to enhance the quality and value of resources recovered through recycling programs.