Many Canadians are recycling wrong, and it’s costing us millions

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Published on: April 6, 2018

CBC News / Emily Chung / 06 April 2018

Canadians are throwing too much garbage into their blue bins, sometimes out of laziness or ignorance, but sometimes with the best of intentions. And it’s costing recycling programs millions of dollars a year.

Even a few spoonfuls of peanut butter left in a jar can contaminate a tonne of paper and make it unmarketable — destined for the dump. Same for that glob of yogurt left in the bottom of the container.

“It’s shameful, it’s awful. In some instances almost one in three pounds of what goes in a blue box shouldn’t be there,” says Mark Badger, executive vice-president of Canada Fibers, which runs 12 plants that sort about 60 per cent of the curbside recycling collected in Ontario.

Contamination is the technical name for non-recyclable material or garbage in the recycling system, from leftover food in containers to non-recyclable plastic packaging to more obvious garbage such as clothing and propane tanks.

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