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Waste Management eNews

May, 2022

Keeping residents informed about waste management  programs and services.

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The Blue Box Special Edition

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Residents of Waterloo Region are super recyclers. After all, the very first Blue Box program started right here back in 1983.

While we understand the value of recycling, sometimes it is confusing. 

In this Special Edition, we are focusing on all things Blue Box - trends, tips and tools - to help you in your day-to-day and on collection day! And to help households setting out a lot of garbage, to recycle as much as possible and prepare for the reduced garbage limit in October.

Trends in recycling

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Packaging changes often; manufacturers refresh the look of their products and use new and different materials. It is hard to keep up with the latest types of packaging, even for us in the waste management industry! 

But here are two recent trends we think you should know about:

  • Change in recyclability of plastic bags. Zippered sandwich bags, produce bags, and bags from frozen vegetable and fruit are no longer accepted due to changes in the plastics market. Recycle ONLY the plastic bags listed. Please make sure each bag is empty. Stuff the bags and outer wrap into one bag, tie shut, and put into the Paper Products and Plastic Bag Blue Box.
  • More "compostable" packaging and products. By January 1, 2026, manufacturers of blue box packaging/products will be fully responsible for running and paying for the Blue Box program. Some are opting to change to compostable versions. While these products and packaging may claim to be compostable, they are not accepted in our Green Bin and Yard Waste programs. The only compostable plastic allowed in our program are certified compostable liner bags. All other compostable plastic packaging and items go in the garbage.

How to check if packaging is recyclable

Ask The Waste Whiz

Sometimes we think we know what can be recycled, but as packaging changes, check The Waste Whiz.

It's quick and easy: go to our website and type the item into the Waste Whiz item search box and it will tell you.

Or download the free Waste Whiz app to your smart device
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Why sorting is so important

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Different types of materials have different properties (such as melting temperatures) and cannot be mixed together for recycling.

The processors that buy our recyclables have strict requirements and contamination is not allowed. Even a small amount of contamination could spoil the entire batch that is being processed.

Contamination can be a non-recyclable item, food debris in a container, or a recyclable item that has been put in the wrong spot.

To get recycled, recyclables need to be well-sorted. And your in-home sort is the key to our recycling success.

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Sorting Works

We know it does. With your efforts, over 90 per cent of our collected blue box materials do get recycled. Thank you!

Videos and other resources to help you recycle

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Need stickers to help you do the two-box sort? 

Email or call us at 519-575-4400.

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Have you ever wish-cycled?

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Ever put items into the Blue Box that you were not sure was recyclable, hoping it may be? The industry term for this is ‘Wish-cycling’.

Wish-cycling creates issues:

  1. Health and safety issues at the curb from items such as broken glass or other sharp items, light bulbs, masks and gloves.
  2. Increased sorting time at the curb for collection staff. This has a ripple effect since each collector picks up about 1,000 homes a day which means it can affect when your items are collected.
  3. Health and safety issues at our sorting centre from items such as such as pressurized cylinders, and containers still filled with automotive fluids, chemicals, or other household hazardous waste.
  4. Mechanical issues when items get stuck in machinery or damage conveyor belts.

We cannot accept items such as car parts, umbrellas, shoes, toys, pots and pans, or cookie sheets in the Blue Box. Please consider donating household items that are still useful to reuse stores.

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Example: Chip bags. Chip bags are a common wish-cycled item. These bags are laminated which means several layers of different types of material are bonded together. Since these layers cannot be separated, recycling markets do not currently accept them.

Do not wish-cycle chip bags, pouch bags and other zippered bags, Styrofoam, and candy and snack wrappers. Put them in the garbage.

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Is this your blue box?

If so, please bring it to one of our sites and pick up a replacement for no charge

We will recycle your broken box, and the collector will be able to safely and efficiently collect your recyclables!

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