Ontario consumers confused about Blue Box materials

Ontario’s Blue Box program is under pressure to make changes.

Francis Veilleux, the president of the Bluewater Recycling Association, said at one time China accounted for 60 per cent of the market for recyclable material, and they would accept just about anything. But Veilleux added that North American recycling companies now have to sell to their material locally and the quality of the material has to be better.

Another problem is some of the items people put in their blue box.

“Currently about 90 per cent of everything we collect here we’re able to separate and market as a separate commodity. That last 10 per cent is things that either we never wanted in the first place, like bowling balls or diapers or things that we just couldn’t physically separate,” said Veilleux.

The most common problem item for the Bluewater Recycling Association is beverage cups, like a coffee cup.

“It’s a multi-layered product,” said Veilleux. “It’s a paper cup wrapped in plastic is really what it is.  And so if it’s mixed in with any of our paper that we shipped anywhere else, it’s deemed a contaminant.”

Then they run of the risk of loads of paper or cardboard being rejected. The fact that coffee cups are accepted in places like London or Toronto just adds to the confusion.

Veilleux added they do accept plastic shopping bags, but preferably when they’re all together in one bag. If they’re scattered individually throughout a blue box it adds to the time it takes to separate them from the rest of the materials in the blue box.

Meanwhile, Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek is to make an announcement on Thursday about recycling. Yurek is to appear in the northern part of Toronto with Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark.

The government said it will speak about “improving the Blue Box Program.”

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