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Blog Post

Plastics and packaging
10/11/2018 1:46:40 PM

How well do you know your recyclables?

Plastic. It’s a loaded word when it comes to recycling.

Although there are seven broad categories of plastic, there are actually thousands of different plastics, each with their own composition and characteristics, according to the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. 

And not all plastic is created equal. Some may be flimsy, but protect your food from drying out, while others are glass-like and tough enough to stop a bullet. Some types are recyclable and others are not, based on a classification system called the Resin Identification Code, which is the number printed on the bottom of most plastic containers.

image of mixed recyclables

Rethinking plastic

Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been generated around the world and only 23 per cent of those plastics have been recovered or recycled.

In the early days of recycling, plastic was restricted to plastic bottles. Decades later, those blue boxes lining our streets are now filled with many different plastics, but it is still estimated that an additional 12 billion tonnes of plastic will be lost to disposal by 2050.

In an effort to combat the plastics problem, businesses and manufacturers are developing new uses for recycled plastics, such as storage containers, furniture, shampoo bottles and shoes. You can also build a nice deck out of recycled plastic bags. Plastic, or composite, decking is just another example of closing the recycling loop in a circular economy. One manufacturer of plastic decking states a 500-square-foot composite deck contains about 140,000 recycled plastic bags.

You can help too by correctly sorting your household plastics and participating in local recycling programs.

What kind of plastic can be put in your Oxford County blue box? Using the online tool What goes where, here is a list of some common plastics that can and cannot be recycled in Oxford County:

  • Plastic wrap (Saran-wrap) - NO
  • Plastic cutlery - NO
  • Plastic food take-out-containers - YES
  • Plastic food packaging - YES
  • Plastic straws - NO
  • Plastic sauce bottles - YES
  • Plastic drink bottles - YES
  • Plastic bottle caps - YES, but they MUST be reattached to the bottles (cannot be loose)
  • Plastic bags - YES
  • Plastic cups/lids - YES

Also, check out this YouTube video to see how to properly sort your recycled plastics in Oxford County. And remember, only put clean recyclables in your blue box. Rinsing is important: if recyclable materials are not clean, they will contaminate other recyclables causing them to end up in the landfill.

Tips to reduce plastic pollution

  • Don’t buy bottled water, use a reusable container
  • Say NO to straws (unless the paper kind)
  • Bring your own reusable shopping bags to the store
  • Use glass containers to store food, or a bento box for your lunch instead of sandwich baggies 

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