Waste disposal services, like recycling and garbage, are like a magic act. Residents place items in their carts and once they close the lid and roll the cart to the curb – POOF – everything disappears. But, like real magic, this is all an illusion. The truth of the matter is these waste services are not a disappearing act at all. Placing something in your blue or black cart doesn’t make it disappear; it makes it someone else’s responsibility behind the scenes. Just because your waste is no longer in view, doesn’t mean it no longer exists and can pose a real threat to someone else if not disposed of responsibly.
The cold hard truth is not everything can be accepted into the recycling or waste cart program within your community. Recycling and waste disposal efforts may not always be simple – it takes work and responsible participation from all residents. Single-stream recycling programs were designed specifically for household packaging and mixed paper. Although we have been told other products are recyclable, such as batteries, used oil, and electronics, these items are only accepted at specialized recycling facilities or retailers. These items should NEVER be placed into the residential or commercial recycling carts or bins.
Your “waste” has a correct place – but why? Recycling and disposal facility workers have to handle or process items that pass through to their final destinations; potentially exposing them to sharp objects, toxins, bio-hazards, carcinogens, or explosives. Some of these items if improperly recycled can cause major issues such as explosions and fires, environmental or human exposure to toxic substances, injury, or worse. To prevent safety threats to all employees dealing with your waste and recycling, the contamination problem needs to be resolved from the point of generation – homes or businesses. It boils down to public responsibility of what is placed into the blue or black carts. Please don’t let a small or careless error, terminate a convenient and simple service for everyone or harm someone’s life. For waste disposal service providers, employee safety is the most important factor and cannot always be prevented even with extensive safety protocols, emergency drills, and personal protective equipment. It is everyone’s responsibility to sort out non-approved or hazardous items from community-based programs; not just employees working in waste and recycling facilities.
What can you do to help? Take action and responsibility for your own waste – don’t rely on others to do the job for you. Individuals working in the waste disposal and recycling fields are also mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers and should never be put through the stress of each day not knowing what to expect because of someone else’s innocent behaviour of simply placing an item into the cart. If you are unsure if an item is safe, don’t guess – ask! Educate yourself by using resources such as our website or check out SWRC.ca or the City of Saskatoon’s Waste Wizard for a safe and responsible place to recycle or discard of other items not approved in your curbside programs. Be environmentally conscious when it comes to your own consumerism. Remember to always reduce and reuse the products you buy before recycling them. Recycling is the last step in the waste hierarchy. We have one planet and must work together preserve our natural resources for future generations. Remember to always think smart, recycle smart!