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Recycling Explained – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

July 10, 2018

In my last article titled “Where Do I Put My Garbage?”  I spoke about the confusion that many folks can have understanding the difference between compostable, biodegradable and of course recycling.  As promised, let’s first start off with a look at recycling.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

I’m sure the majority of us have heard of these three ‘R’ words: reduce your consumption, reuse what you can, and recycle what’s left. They’re good words to live by.

In the past few decades, recycling has increased dramatically. Beside almost every garbage can, there is a matching blue bin. It is expected that plastic, glass, and paper are thrown into the latter, and those who don’t do this are often given disapproving looks. I personally find it extremely irritating to see stacks of paper or recyclable plastic in the garbage, and am quick to correct this error.

But, as most things are, it’s not that simple. Although ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is a memorable catchphrase, it fails to mention how the way we recycle is changing, especially here in Winnipeg.

In April 2018, CBC published a series called “Reduce, Reuse, Rethink”, revealing common misconceptions about recycling.

You can read the full article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-manitoba-recycling-rules-1.4625533

Basically, what can and can’t be recycled in Winnipeg has changed now that China, the largest market for Canadian recyclables, has changed many of their regulations. For example, dark coloured plastics, like a Tim Hortons coffee cup lid, cannot be recycled in Winnipeg.

Some other quick tips for your recycling include:

  • Clean your containers.The cleaner your recycling is, the easier it is to process and the less energy is required to wash it. It will also have a better chance of being reused.

  • Don’t use plastic bags. If you throw out your recycling in a plastic bag, it will most likely end up in a landfill.

  • Styrofoam is not recyclable in Winnipeg, even though has the little triangle symbol on it.

A more extensive list can be found on the City of Winnipeg website: http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/recycle/4rdepots/acceptedMaterial.stm

I know it seems like a lot, and possibly overwhelming, but becoming aware of the regulations in our city is so important. It’s easy to ignore the little details, throw containers in a blue bin and call it a day, but in reality, our city and our planet are suffering for it. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the few who are fighting this wasteful consumerism. This awareness will help us be more conscientious consumers, and it’s definitely worth the effort.

Next article: Compostable vs Biodegradable

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

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