We have all been there. Standing in front of the recycling bin, staring at a plastic container and wondering, “Can I recycle this?” We all want to recycle more plastics and create a cleaner environment for our loved ones and ourselves. Here are some tips that can help you recycle more of your everyday plastics. While people have access to plastics recycling, exactly which plastics you can recycle depends on the recycling program in your area.
You typically can learn which plastics are recyclable by visiting your municipal waste management websites (a simple web search such as “plastics recycling program hometown/province” should find them). Many of these sites have flyers or other visuals that you can print and post for everyone in your household to see.
Another option is to visit your provincial recycling council website, as many of these organizations have a postal code search function that will allow you to find out what you can recycle locally.
Once you know what you can recycle, it's important to expand your efforts beyond typical kitchen plastics for food and drinks. Recyclable plastics often are used throughout the house, such as your bathroom (bottles and containers for shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, body wash, mouthwash), laundry area (detergent and cleaning products), and garage (auto and gardening products). All of these are widely recycled.
Recyclers want your plastic bottle caps and container lids. Squish the bottle and twist on the bottle caps before tossing them in the bin to make it easier for recyclers. To make sure you're recycling everything you can, it's a great idea to place multiple small recycling bins throughout your home so you can easily collect recyclable plastics.
Unless your curbside recycling program specifically accepts plastic wraps and bags, DO NOT put them in the bin. BUT many grocery and retail stores DO collect plastic grocery bags for recycling—plus bags for dry cleaning, bread, produce, newspapers, and even sealable food storage bags. You also can include plastic wraps used to package products such as cases of water bottles, diapers, napkins, and more. Just gather clean and dry bags/wraps and drop them in the storefront recycling bin.
Given the wide range of everyday plastics that can be readily recycled, it might seem like it's okay to toss pretty much anything in the recycling bin. But putting the wrong items in the bin can be harmful. For example, recyclers caution that many items—shoes, tape of any kind (adhesive, audio, video), even bowling balls—can damage equipment, so please keep non-recyclables out of recycling bins.
Burying used plastics in a landfill is a waste of valuable materials—fortunately, today more and more plastics are living another life in a variety of items such as resilient fleece jackets, fun playground equipment, or gorgeous backyard decks. Recycled plastic can also be found in new packaging, durable kitchen utensils, creative toys, colourful home décor, and even tough car parts
So, now that you know what to do, pitch in and do your part to reduce waste and recycle more plastics.