Recycling costs are rising as communities struggle to adapt to more plastics, fewer newspapers.
Reduce, Reuse and Rethink is a CBC News series about recycling. We’re exploring why our communities are at a turning point and exploring ways to recycle better. You can be part of the conversation by joining our Facebook group.
Do you read your news online? Enjoy takeout? Live in an apartment?
Our changing lifestyles over the past few decades have dramatically altered the types of materials we put in blue bins.
And that’s led to flatlining recycling rates and ballooning costs for municipalities across Canada that are struggling to cope with the changes.
“It’s really a perfect storm of crazy stuff going on that means that the blue box has huge challenges that it did not have 10 years ago,” says Maria Kelleher, principal of Toronto-based Kelleher Environmental, a consulting firm specializing in waste reduction and recycling research, strategy and program design.
The problem is that we’re now throwing out a huge variety of new types of packaging — mostly plastics, sometimes glued to other materials like metals — that recycling programs were never meant to deal with. Meanwhile, the materials that they were designed to collect, sort and resell make up a shrinking proportion of what comes in.
Newspaper, for example, used to be the backbone of the recycling program, Kelleher says, “because it’s easy to recycle and it’s worth a good bit of money.”
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Originally written by Emily Chung