How to Deal with Problematic Recyclables

Recycling programs still can’t recycle every consumer good, which means that we still need to think about what we put in the blue box (or whatever colour it is where you live). Some plastics are too hard to recycle and some containers too hard to clean. The CBC recently ran a live Q&A (video above) on common concerns around recyclables and what to do about it. Of course, the best thing you can do as a consumer is just buy less stuff and reuse what you can. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are in that order for a reason.

Coffee pods

Why they’re a problem

These contain many parts with different materials that need to be separated. In some places, like B.C., the plastic from plastic pods can be recycled when separated. But in other recycling programs, because the pods are small, pieces of them can drop through mechanical screens at recycling plants and contaminate other streams, especially glass.

What are the options?

The plastic parts can be theoretically recovered, provided everything else is separated out. Some brands let you return these. There are also private programs that recycle them.

Read more.

Stick it to Straws

People are more aware than ever before about the damage to our planet caused by plastics. The whole life-cycle of plastics causes harm from collecting non-renewable oils to the long lifetime of most plastic products. Plastic has even been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench (video below)! Of course, campaigns exist to try to reuse plastic use on a industrial scales while increasing recycling capacity. There is something that you can do today to help reduce plastic waste: skip the straw when you order a drink.

So we wanted to help out reducing the plastic straw. Today. Not waiting for politicians or governments to take action but just by the power of people. So we made a little sticker that can help to change our habits. A friendly one that bar owners can appreciate (because they can buy less straws)

Made by the Lieke. aka Liekeland. Everything she draws looks just..beautiful. I’d highly recommend to check out her website, best enjoyed with a cup of tea.

OK back to it. You can find 3 different stickers in this download kit.
1: Menu Stickers. Small to stick on the drink section on a menu
2: Counter Stickers. Slightly bigger and contain some extra information, perfect to stick on the bar or counter
3: Street sticker. Spread the word on the streets. Simple but effective! (we occasionally sell a few in our bazar)

Read more and get the sticker kit.

Straw

EU Launches Urban Mining Project

construction

The European Union’s newest mining project focuses on urban areas throughout the continent. Their ProSUM project built a database of metals, chemicals, and materials brought into the EU market over the last ten plus years; the idea is that the produced goods can be “mined” again. It’s a really novel way to approach recycle by positioning the recycling process as a mining opportunity. To help companies and organizations understand the plentitude of materials available in existing products (most of which are in landfills or recycling centres) they launched a website the Urban Mine Platform.

The project outcomes are embedded in the European Commission’s (EC) Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) in order to create a more comprehensive and structured repository of knowledge related to primary and secondary sources consumed in the EU, relevant for many stakeholders:

  • Manufacturers can gain confidence about future recycled raw material supplies.
  • Recyclers will have better intelligence about the changes in product types and material content which impact on their business and provide future recovery potential.
  • The mining industry will have greater certainty about the quantities and types of materials needed in the marketplace, mitigating risk and improving profitability.
  • Policymakers will be better informed on raw material supplies, which affect jobs and financial institutions, and how materials are linked to energy consumption.
  • Researchers will have better data quantity, quality, completeness and reliability.

Read more.

It’s Time to Think Hard About our Waste Systems

the suburbs

Modern capitalism encourages consumption at levels previously unimaginable which has led to an inconvenient byproduct: the globalization of waste. High levels of consumption means more waste in our system, and with the gift-giving holiday next month we’re going to see a lot of wasteful purchases. This year think about what gifts to give that don’t contribute to a landfill, indeed take some time to think about how your local municipality deals with waste created throughout the year. It turns out that in Canada we have a lot to learn form other places.

It’s time to rethink how we approach waste management in Canada beyond just saying reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Hird tells a story about a research project at Queen’s University, run by one of her grad students, Cassandra Kuyvenhoven, who tracked materials put into blue bins at Queen’s to see where they ended up. “While the system seemed functional and neat on the surface,” says Hird, “It certainly wasn’t that behind the scenes.” Kuyvenhoven found, for example, that when recyclable Styrofoam left Queen’s it was loaded onto trucks and taken to Toronto, where it was compacted chemically then trucked to Montreal where it was put on ships that took it to China, where it eventually ended up in landfill. “We might as well have landfilled it here,” says Hird, “and saved the tons of carbon that went into the atmosphere getting it to China.”

Electronics equipment made its slow way from the university’s loading docks to landfills in India and Mexico.

“When people think their stuff is being recycled, it clears their conscience, no matter what is actually happening beyond the blue box,” says Hird. “Our research shows that when their conscience is clear they tend to consume more than ever. Since Canadians started recycling in earnest maybe 30 years ago, consumerism in this country has done nothing but climb.”

Read more.

Quebec Business Turns Waste into Juice

beans
Juice Loop is a new company in Quebec that is taking food waste and turning it into juice and other products. This was isn’t what’s left on a plate from a restaurant, instead it comes from the supply chain inefficiencies present in how grocery stores run their operations. It’s a classic story of entrepreneurs seeing an opportunity to solve a problem, except these entrepreneurs want to make the world better while making money. They opened in the province of Quebec last year and have already cracked into the Ontario market.

In the food supply industry, the business model is partly based on speculation about the level of demand from groceries and anticipated sales, said Poitras-Saulnier. For example, a supplier could request 25 containers of fruit, but then fail to sell all of them, she explained.

“Sometimes they sell less — they could sell 20 containers. So there would be five left over the next week that are starting to get more ripe and almost ready to be eaten, which means that they wouldn’t last long enough in the distribution cycle and wind up being trashed.”

Juice Loop anticipates reusing 300 tons of fruits and vegetables by the end of this year and 525 tons in 2018. Its operations are designed to take care of all of the waste — even the leftover fruit pulp is reused to make organic pet food.

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!

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