In Part 1 of this blog, we learned about the reason why so many recycling programs have been discontinued or have restricted acceptable items. We also discussed the worldwide policies that drive North American recycling markets and why recyclable materials were being sent overseas in the first place. With a potential all-out ban from China in 2020 on solid waste imports, consumers should understand what they can do to protect their local recycling programs. So, here we go again! Part 2 of “Worldwide Recycling: Why is it Changing?”
In order for local recycling markets to succeed, businesses and consumers should look into Circular Economy models. This means purchasing back products made from recycled content or supporting programs that close the waste loop. This differs from the current linear approach of make, purchase, discard, and repeat. So what can we do to safeguard these markets and protect recycling programs long-term?
Step 1: Make sure that your recyclables are clean.
Give your recyclables a rinse or wipe before placing them in your recycling cart. If they cannot be cleaned, then please discard these items into your waste cart. Unfortunately, dirty recyclables cannot be made into new products or worst they contaminate clean recyclables, ruining them for a new life product.
Step 2: “Know before you throw.”
Placing items in your recycling cart that do not belong is called “Wishcycling.” Wishcycling increases contamination in the recycling stream and is dangerous to those working in the waste and recycling industry. Don’t know where to recycle an item or if an item can be placed into your blue cart? Saskatoon residents can “Ask the Wizard”, at www.saskatoon.ca/wastewizard. For Saskatchewan-wide recycling programs, use the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction search engine at www.swrc.ca.
Step 3: Understand the products that you purchase.
Recycling rules differ from place to place. Recycling programs are not stagnant and can change based on worldwide markets. It is vital to educate ourselves frequently about what can and cannot be recycled. Also, research what happens to the products you purchase if you discard them. To do this, you can ask manufacturers, “Can my product be recycled or is it supposed to be discarded as waste?” “Do you provide recycling take-back programs?” “What sustainable actions has your company taken to reduce waste?”
The most important thing to remember about recycling programs is, always reduce and reuse before you consider recycling anything. Not sure why? Come for a tour or book a Lunch & Learn session! We offer free MRF tours at our facility and private education sessions for your business or community group. For more information visit www.loraas.ca/tours. Want the latest information regarding recycling? Follow our social media @LoraasYXE for recycling tips, tricks, and more!