We have all heard the old adage "reduce, reuse, recycle" but we usually only focus on the last part. Now, when you picture a recycling facility what do you see? A state of the art futuristic building with machinery that power washes each peanut butter jar until its pristine? Everything being sorted delicately? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your idea may be far from reality.
Wish-cycling is the practice of tossing questionable items into the recycling bin in the hopes that they will be recycled. Despite popular belief, not all paper and plastic products can be recycled, and each municipality varies on what items can be accepted into their programs.
We've all been there, standing in front of your blue bin debating if an item can be recycled and we throw it in rather than in the garbage because it's better to hope. If we are wrong, than the recycling facility can just throw it away. This practice costs time and money, and can create more waste. This is especially true when we are "wish-cycling" dirty items (like jars with food still in them). These items can contaminate pieces that are actually recyclable and make them end up in the trash, and items that don't belong can possibly jam machinery, holding up regular operations.
Some items that are no longer accepted may surprise you!*
- items smaller than 3in (think: yogurt cups, lids to jars or bottles, snack packaging)
- beverage cups (try to remember a reusable cup when getting takeout coffee)
- cartons (this includes ice cream cartons, milk cartons, juice boxes)
All hope is not lost, recycling is a muscle memory practice and once you learn what goes in garbage versus recycling versus compost you can adapt your habits and help smooth the recycling facilities operations. This practice will also help you evaluate where you may want to switch your practices to reusable, refillable, or buy different products with more recyclable packaging.
If you live in Lambton Shores, you may find these resources helpful when determining where to put waste items:
Find Electronic Waste, Compost, and Landfill site information here
A downloadable copy of what is accepted in your blue box can be found at the bottom on this page
*information in this post pertains specifically to the Lambton Shores Bluewater Recycling Association. Please check with your local municipal recycling information if you live outside of this region.