Loren Horwich, Local Waste Educator at Divert NS, joined us at our October monthly meeting to talk about recycling in HRM.
We learned that in HRM, we have 5 waste streams:
- blue bag recycling
- paper recycling
- corrugated cardboard recycling
- green bin (organics)
Out of all the streams, blue bag recycling gets the most questions as there is such a variety of what can go into the bag. Loren’s top tips are summarized in the panel below.
HRM has been collecting recyclables since 1992, at the recycling plant in Bayer’s Lake where everything is sorted by hand. What is accepted in recycling is based on the need and a market for that particular material.
We learned about innovative projects in Nova Scotia that take old plastics and turn them into recycled plastic lumber and furniture, carpet and even a soft fibre that feels just like cotton.
Although most of our time with Loren was spent talking about recycling, she reminded us about the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – with the first in the list being the best solution for the environment.
Even if you are a diligent recycler, remember to reduce first, maybe supporting your local farmer’s market to reduce the amount of food packaging, using cloth bags instead of plastic or keeping your own reusable straw or coffee mug in your car. The less you use, the less that has to be recycled.
Here are some of Loren’s tips for blue bag recycling:
- HRM is now accepting old metal pots, pans and cookie sheets (plastic handles are ok).
- When recycling plastics, ask yourself, is this a container? If it is made of plastic but is not a container, it can’t go into the blue bag.
- All caps and lids must be removed from containers (these DO NOT go into the blue bag). Instead of throwing them in the garbage, you can collect all caps and bring them into your closest Enviro Depot. The caps are used as part of a new pilot project in Nova Scotia to aid in waste-water treatment.
- Paper labels DO NOT have to be removed from containers. The paper is burned up when the plastic recyclables are melted down.
- Food containers DO NOT have to be scrubbed clean. Containers have to be empty but not spotless; like paper labels bits of food residue is burned up in the melting process.
- Use the ‘rule of thumb’ when determining if a plastic can be recycled. If you can use your thumb to stretch the plastic it can be recycled, if it does not stretch it can not be recycled. That means no hard plastic packaging and bags, plastic cutlery, plastic straws or Keurig cups.
- Bundle all soft plastics into one plastic bag. This makes it easier to sort on the assembly line at the recycling plant.
You can ﬁnd the complete list of what goes where at halifax.ca/recycle