I’ve Got The Blue Box Blues

Yesterday was garbage day on our street, and blue box recycling (cans and glass and plastics, for those of you who live in dreamlands like Toronto where you just throw it all in one big bin).

As I walked to the kids’ school to pick up Gal Smiley, I saw non-recyclables in every single blue box. Every single one! I get so riled up at that sort of thing.

So, it seems like it’s time for a re-rant. Rant Revisited, if you will. Because if there are too many non-recyclables in the blue boxes, then the whole truck can get tossed, meaning my efforts at recycling are wasted. And if there are too many non-recyclables in the Ottawa collection as a whole, we will lose our buyer, and the city will no longer be able to afford to pick up the recycling, as happened a few years ago when they stopped taking margarine and yogurt tubs.

(As it is, the uproar over the tub thing means they now collect them, but have to basically give them away for free as it is a very low-demand recyclable, and so the city takes a loss on that kind of recycling already.)

So, to recap, the following things are NOT RECYCLABLE in Ottawa in blue bins:

  • plastic bags
  • take-out containers
  • clear plastic food bins or boxes, such as you might get a pre-made salad in or cookies from the bakery area
  • plastic caps for pop bottles or juice bottles (only the bottles themselves are recyclable)
  • plastic packaging from toys or electronics
  • hard plastics (even when marked with a 5) like plastic children’s plates or cups
  • styrofoam containers, such as from take-out or trays from the bottom of chicken breasts or ground beef

I see stuff like this in blue bins all the time — our neighbours two doors down right now have their blue bin out full to the brim with nothing but take-out containers. In fact, the only plastics that you can put in your blue bin are: pop bottles, shampoo bottles, vinegar jugs and the like that are labelled with a 1 or 2 on the bottom (no caps!); and wide-mouthed margarine or yogurt tubs and their lids IF marked with a 5 on the bottom.


As for metals and glass, most people are doing a good job although I did see some wire hangers in there (NO). Also, the metal lids from glass jars (like say, for jam or spaghetti sauce) are recyclable, but you have to put them in the bin separately (i.e. remove the lid), so they can go to their proper places (otherwise, the lid will probably get junked). You can also put cardboard containers with a metal end in your blue box, like say from frozen juice or from Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (mmmmmm…me love me some totally-fake-yet-delicious crescent rolls!).

Now I must lie down and attempt to get over myself.

Edited to add: I’m being featured a second time on Five Star Friday!! Thanks so much to whoever submitted my link, it means a ton to me, and YOU ROCK MY WORLD.

7 thoughts on “I’ve Got The Blue Box Blues

  1. Rheostaticsfan

    So…how about milk cartons and tetra pack boxes (like the ones fancy soups come in). Are they blue box items? Black box items? Non-recyclable?

    The crescent roll containers are a shocker. I could see the metal ends being recyclable, but it’s odd that you can recycle them attached to the cardboard…

  2. MrsCarlSagan

    I agree with you – I see a lot of blue boxes filled with those plastic cookie/salad things and plastic bags and it makes me cringe.

    Tetra boxes and milk cartons can go in the blue box as per the city of ottawa website.

  3. Hmm. Is it in any way progress that we’ve moved from being pissed at people for not recycling to being pissed at people for trying to over-recycle?

    Mmmm, pillsbury crescent rolls. Overbleached overprocessed non-food-like bliss.

  4. Yikes! Please don’t come near my house until I get a chance to review your list and clear out my blue bin from all the un-recyclables! Just joking … I appreciate this post a lot because now I know better! 🙂

  5. Thanks again! You got me educated a while back, but I’ll pass this link along to people I know who will listen.

    Have you considered submitting something like this to the paper’s editorial section? What about handing out flyers in your neighbourhood?

  6. Oh my gosh, that totally gets my goat too!!! I see it all the time on our street (and even once had a chat with my neighbour to tell her all the things she had in her box that were incorrect). It’s not that hard to keep a print out of the list on your fridge, that’s what we do. Glad to see I am not the only one ranting about this 🙂

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