Have you ever stood in front of your curbside bin with an item in your hand? You think, ‘this should be recyclable,’ but you’re not sure. Then into the bin it goes with the hope that it will be taken away and dealt with.
This is called wish-cycling and it is a problem!
There are some physical items which often end up in the recycling bin which cannot be recycled.
A prime example is shoes. Old shoes and sneakers cannot be recycled, although shoes with some life can be donated (Bread of Life in downtown Port Alberni accepts donations, for example). Another item is old toothbrushes and razors. Despite being made primarily out of plastic, they are only fit for the landfill.
The range of items that can be successfully and easily recycled in the Alberni Valley today is very extensive. Long gone are the days of car bodies, tires, batteries and paint being landfill waste. Mattresses have just been added to the recyclable list, where for a small fee a local enterprise can salvage a range of materials from them.
Clothes cannot be recycled through our recycling system, but they can be donated to a thrift store or the diabetes association. They can also be repurposed as rags.
What’s wrong with wish-cycling?
Disposing of any non-recyclable items in recycle bins just increases contamination and adds costs to the system. In the same way that plastic bags can damage and add costs to the local conveyor sorting system, incorrect items also have to be pulled off the conveyor line by hand and then disposed of in a landfill.
Contamination of a sorted load is the other costly and unintended result of wish-cycled items finding their way into the system. In some cases, this contamination can result in the rejection of the whole batch, adding both cost and ultimately, more to a landfill. Wish-cycling should not help to make us feel better as it can have the opposite effect. It can increase our landfill waste through contamination of potentially recyclable materials.
Our mistakes add multiple costs to the system in the long run.
Learn more about what can and cannot be recycled curb-side and at Recycle BC depots at recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle.
For other recycling services in the Alberni Valley visit acrd.bc.ca/recycling.
For information on the landfill hours and fees see acrd.bc.ca/alberni-valley-landfill.