Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Why can't everything be recycled?
- Why can't I recycle tissue or paper towels in the blue box?
- How do I recycle a disposable paper cup (i.e. Tim Horton's or McDonald's paper coffee cups)?
- Why can't I recycle chip bags?
- Can light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent light bulbs be placed in the blue box?
- Why did the collector not take certain items from my blue box this week? He took the same items last week.
- What items can I recycle in the blue box?
- When is the Household Hazardous Waste Depot open?
- I placed small plastic toys in the blue box but they were not collected. Why?
- Is there an easy way to determine which plastic bags are recyclable?
- How can I prevent recyclable papers from flying out of my blue box?
- Why did the collector take my glass food jars, but not my glass ceramic drinking cups?
- Why can't I recycle empty plastic motor oil bottles with the #2 symbol in the blue box?
The blue box recycling program is designed to accept items that can be sold to industries that can manufacture these materials into new products. These industries are called "markets". Markets dictate what they want to purchase and in turn the City must comply in order to be able to sell its blue box materials.
Paper mills that purchase the City's household papers do not want tissue or paper towels included in the mix. Tissue and paper towels have short fiber lengths and when pulped they practically disappear or provide no strength in manufacturing new paper products. Instead, the City encourages residents to place their soiled tissue and paper towels in a certified compostable bag for their green cart.
Place the plastic lid in your blue box and the paper cup portion in a certified compostable bag for your green cart.
Most flexible bags are multilayered. In most instances you either have metallized plastic films or there's a thin layer of aluminum foil on the plastic film. Both these types of packaging are currently not recyclable. You can consider rinsing and reusing these types of bags. If this is not an option for you, then the empty chip bags should be placed in your garbage.
No. Light bulbs should go in your regular garbage. Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are considered hazardous waste and must be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Depot.
Collectors are trained to know what is recyclable, to sort your items and to leave behind non-recyclables. If the collector is not being consistent, please let us know. We don't want you to be confused on what's recyclable and what's not. However, as a resident, you must also take the time to learn what goes in the blue box and what stays out. We all have a part in making the system efficient.
Small or large plastic toys are not recyclable in the blue box. If the items are not broken, please consider giving them away or hold a yard sale. For details on what's recyclable in the blue box, please click here.
- If it's a ziplock bag or a soil contaminated bag then it belongs in the garbage.
- If it's not a bag, but plastic film or plastic saran wrap or plastic bubble wrap, then it belongs in the garbage.
- Does the bag make a crinkly noise like a pasta bag, a cereal box liner bag or a cracker box liner bag? If yes, then it belongs in the garbage.
- The final test is the stretch test. If you can easily stretch a plastic bag (like a grocery bag), put it in your blue box. If you can't easily stretch a plastic bag, put it in the garbage. For example, the outside bag from a four-litre bag of milk goes in your blue box but the inside bags go in the garbage or reuse them to store various items.
- Take all of your stretchy plastic bags, stuff them in one stretchy plastic bag, tie the handles together and place in your blue box.
For further details on what's recyclable in your blue box, please click here.
11. How can I prevent recyclable papers from flying out of my blue box?
Here's some tips:
Stack a heavier blue box on top of a lighter blue box so stuff doesn't blow away.
On windy days during the period of December 1st to March 31st, consider putting your blue boxes out for collection in the morning (by 7 a.m.), rather than the night before your collection day.
Stand paper and cardboard up-and-down instead of laying them flat so they don't fly away.
Place lighter items in the bottom of your blue box and heavier items on top.
Never over fill your blue boxes. Order additional blue boxes if you have large quantities of recyclables on a regular basis. Just call 3-1-1 to place your order.
If you periodically have additional blue box materials (i.e. Christmas time), then use a cardboard box for the extras and place this open cardboard box beside your blue box.
Remember that paper coffee cups, paper plates and paper towels go in a certified compostable bag for your green cart, and not in your blue box.
Consider purchasing the City's Big Blue. This is a large capacity recycling container that comes with a lid.
Rinsed glass container food jars such as pickle jars are recyclable in the blue box, but other glass type items such as ceramic drinking cups and plates, mirrors, clay flower pots, crystal, window glass, heat resistant ovenware and glass drinking cups are not recyclable in the blue box.
These non-recyclable glass items have different chemical compositions than container glass and do not melt at the same temperature. The markets that purchase our container glass don't want this non-recyclable glass because a small amount can upset the entire recycling process.
Plastic bottles collected in the blue box program are shipped to companies that use the recyclable materials to make new products. These companies wash the plastic bottles in cold water before the bottles are shredded or chipped. Since washing motor oil bottles in cold water will not clean the plastic as required by these companies, we advise residents that they can't be placed in the blue box. These empty motor oil bottles should be placed in your garbage. Partially filled or full motor oil bottles must be disposed as a hazardous waste.
Click here for details on household hazardous waste disposal options.