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Plastics and packaging

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 - NO
  • 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 

Champions and innovators

Zero-waste events gain momentum in Oxford County

Three days of food, 13,000 people and only one bag garbage.

Ingersoll’s Canterbury Festival generated a single bag of garbage in its first year as a waste-free event. This year, it was less than half a bag of garbage going to the landfill.

Almost seems impossible, given a single household often generates a bag of garbage each week, but organizers of the annual folk festival are champions at hosting a zero waste event.

image dishwashing at canterbury festival

“It is very clear, it’s an idea that is spreading. An idea that is taking quantum leaps forward,” says Future Oxford Environmental Pillar Chair Bryan Smith. “It’s aspirational as they say in marketing – it’s really seen as desirable.”

Holding a zero waste event is a simple way to demonstrate your commitment to the community. By hosting a zero waste event, you are providing a valuable service to your participants, and you are reducing the dependence on landfills.

Canterbury’s success has also helped other community groups strive to achieve similar results. This year, Sweaburg and District Lions Club eliminated garbage cans at its annual fish fry, where about 600 people were served using reusable dishes. Using resources from Transition to Less Waste and Future Oxford Zero Waste Planning Guide, the fish fry created no waste.

The Lions Club recently shared its experience at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, which also demonstrated a commitment to working towards zero waste. From designated bins for cardboard and product packaging, to having clear recycling bags at each garbage station, Smith said they saw “a significant reduction in garbage,” at the show that typically sees about 40,000 guests.

“It’s just amazing how you can scale it up or scale it down and adapt it to another circumstance,” says Smith, adding organizers of the Highland Games in Embro are also interested in going waste-free.

Zero waste events aren’t for everybody, so be prepared to encounter some unenthusiastic guests who may not understand your waste separation system, or why you are doing things this way. Have a few simple statements prepared for staff and volunteers to explain why this is important and why everyone should participate.

Just imagine how easy it would be to turn your child’s next birthday party or your friend’s baby shower into a garbage-free event. Be innovative and use recycled material as a fun element to a kids’ party. Or replace plastic stir sticks with Popsicle sticks, which can be washed and later used for crafting with your kids. They are also compostable.

If we all make a commitment to go green one small party at a time, we will make a difference in our Future Oxford.

Be a champion!  Download the Zero Waste Planning Guide.

cover image of zero waste guide


Worn, torn or stained, it's still not garbage.

Mismatched socks. This popular fad may drive you crazy, but this new fashion statement is actually good for the environment. Instead of throwing out a perfectly good sock because your dryer ate the other one, these trendsetters have created a fun way to reuse their mate-less socks.

Did you know?

The average person throws away 37 kilograms of textiles each year, and 95 per cent of those clothes could be reused or recycled. Globally, textiles waste has increased dramatically due to the rise in clothing consumption and production.

Many items don't need to be thrown away. You can donate your gently used items to a number of reuse centres or you can “upcycle” them by making your items into something new.

When it comes to textiles, the possibilities are endless of what you can create. Just ask Crystal and Liam from Trash Theatre, who present Oct. 17 at Otterville library for waste reduction week. Learn how they transform junk into art and teach participants how to silk screen using recycled materials.

And even when your mix-and-match socks start growing holes, you don’t have to throw them in the garbage. All of those clothes you think may be too ratty to donate can be recycled right here in Oxford County. Bring them to the Diabetes Canada textiles bin at Oxford County Waste Management Facility. This week, County Public Works staff will also visit Tillsonburg Minor Hockey to pick up 300 jerseys—up to 200 lbs-- for donation to Diabetes Canada. These torn, worn or stained textiles are then sold to textile recyclers, who turn your waste into things like baseball stuffing, insulation and furniture stuffing.

Some reuse centres may also take your trash-worthy items, but call first to make sure. You can find a list of community donation centres here on page 18.

More uses for your trashy textiles

  • Your worn out sheets and towels can be cut into small cloths to replace paper towels.
  • Cut head and arm holes out of stained pillow cases to protect your kids clothes while they paint and do messy crafts.
  • A ripped or stained blanket won’t bother your dog. They make great crate liners or covers or use it to dry their wet paws. 


It’s Waste Reduction Week in Canada, a year-round program, focused solely on the principles of circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction. The program’s primary purpose this week is to celebrate our environmental efforts and achievements while encouraging new innovative ideas and solutions. It’s an exciting week for Oxford County to highlight its progress and commitments to a sustainable future.

Recycling the right way

Three simple ways you can reduce recycling contamination

The Oxford County landfill accumulated almost 47,000 tonnes of garbage over the past year alone. 47,000 tonnes!

That is a lot of waste piling up in the landfill, and you might be asking yourself, “What can I do about it?” Small steps, like recycling and recycling the right way, can go a long way in reducing the amount of garbage we generate as a community.

So how exactly do you recycle the right way? The answer is: by preventing contamination of recyclables. Contamination happens when recyclable items aren’t cleaned properly, or when non-recyclable items get mixed in with recyclables.

For example, the paper in your pizza box that is smeared with grease cannot be processed with clean paper. That chocolate milk container needs a quick rinse before throwing it in your recycling bin so it doesn’t make a sticky mess all over everything else.

Not separating different types of materials can also cause problems during recycling. Leaving pieces of plastic in with cardboard packaging, or leaving Styrofoam in a box when putting it out to the curb can create issues. Just a little extra care in separating these materials will go a long way in reducing the amount of garbage that winds up in the landfill.

Did you know that up to 6% of recyclable material has to be thrown out? 

Here are some quick tips to follow to help you recycling the right way:

  1. Rinse out and properly clean all recyclables before adding them to the blue box.
  2. Place all plastic bags and plastic films into one larger plastic bag and tie it before adding them to the blue box.
  3. Separate Styrofoam, tape and other plastic material from cardboard packaging. The cardboard goes in recycling, the rest of the materials belong in the garbage.

If you are ever unsure if something is recyclable or not, just visit or download the Wasteline app and use the ‘What goes where?’ tool. Type in the material and it will tell you if it’s recyclable or garbage.

It’s so simple to do your part to reduce the garbage we generate. Recycle today and recycle the right way, for a better tomorrow. 

Green Cone system check-in

Rob Walton, Director of Public Works, explains how the Green Cone is working for him. 

After a few months of using his Green Cone, Rob Walton, Director of Public Works explainsGreen Cone how the system is working on his property. 

Rob says that the Green Cone has plenty of room for the food scraps created by his two-person household. He also uses a traditional composter, which helps to ensure that he doesn't overfill his Green Cone. He explains how easy the system is to use, and how little mess and smell it creates. 

“The under-the-sink pail that comes with the Green Cone works great. It's dishwasher-friendly and cleans up very well,” says Rob. "So far, I haven’t noticed any issues with the smell, like you sometimes do with a traditional system."

Rob is currently using the Green Cone for meat scraps (the ones he doesn't feed to his dog), bones, small amounts of grease and half of his vegetable scraps (he uses the other half for the traditional composter in his garden). 

Animals cannot access the Green Cone. Rob says that he has seen a small amount of skunk activity in the loose dirt around the cone from the installation but no different than other parts of his lawn. Skunks shouldn't be an issue unless they are startled, and they do you a favour by eating grubs! 

Visit us at the Oxford County Administration Building to purchase your green cone for $40. 
For more information about composting and recycling, visit us online at

Installing your Green Cone system

Here are some helpful tips for installing your Green Cone, courtesy of Rob Walton, Oxford County's Director of Public Works. 

Have your hardware ready

Be sure you have all the parts that came with the Green Cone system. The hardware pieces are not all something you will necessarily have around the house.

Pick your installation day

Installation typically takes less than an hour. Pick a nice dry day and have your manual ready to follow the instructions for installation. 

Tips for proper installation 

  1. Make sure that you install the Cone in a very sunny location
  2. Keep room around the Cone for easy yard maintenance
  3. If you have drainage issues, don’t install fully in the ground; instead, put fill around the base
  4. Remember to add the accelerator that comes with the composter as per the instructions

Visit us at the Oxford County Administration Building to purchase your green cone for $40. 

For more information about composting and recycling, visit

A new pest-free solution to composting

Introducing the Green Cone compost system: now available for purchase from Oxford County for $40.

About the Green Cone

The Green Cone is a way to compost your kitchen scraps underground and let the sun and cone do all the work.

Green cone composter

The Green Cone was invented in 1988. The goal was to sustainably and efficiently get rid of kitchen waste and keep animals out of your compost. The cone is manufactured in Ontario from very durable and recycled plastic.

Benefits to the Green Cone system

  • No need to stir the compost
  • Your compost will be underground, making it difficult for animals to get to it
  • Less smell
  • Composter made out of recyclable materials
  • Allows you to compost kitchen scraps that traditional systems can’t break down

Find out more about how the Green Cone system works on the Compostec website.

Visit us at the Oxford County Administration Building (21 Reeve St., Woodstock) or the Waste Management Facility (384060 Salford Rd, Salford) to purchase your Green Cone for $40. Please note: this offer is available to residents only.  

For more information about composting and recycling, visit us online at