Going Blue

FameThrowa sent me a fantastic link on the weekend. Apparently the City of Ottawa is now taking a much wider range of plastics in our blue boxes.

As you may know, I am obsessive about what can and can’t go in our blue and black boxes. Some might even say judgemental. It’s not so much about “saving the earth” or whatever, it’s much more about my need to follow the rules. The rules are there for a reason! They must be obeyed! OBEY THE RULES, PEOPLE.

I think it’s great news that more can go in the blue box now. It’s not going to be a huge saver in terms of diverted waste, but the city is hoping that by removing some restrictions it will make recycling easier for people, and more people will participate in the program at a general level.

Does anyone actually not recycle anymore? Seriously?

Anyway…here’s what they are now taking (probably not a complete and exhaustive list, but hopefully giving you the idea):


IN – any food, beverage, or toiletry container marked with the recycling symbol and any number from 1 through 7 in the middle; margarine or yogurt tubs and their lids; individual sized yogurt or applesauce containers; plastic containers used to package produce like strawberries or lettuce, or used to hold baking-area cookies or eggs, that sort of thing; flower flats and pots; and pails from pool supplies (please remove metal handle).

OUT – plastic bags; styrofoam including meat trays; plastic bubble packaging (like when you buy something and it has a cardboard backing, with a plastic part glued to the front to hold the item inside – the cardboard can go in the black box but the plastic part is garbage); any hard plastic toys or kitchenware, makeup bottles, motor oil bottles.


IN – cans of all kinds; metal lids from glass jars; frozen juice containers, pringles tubes, and anything else with a metal end; tin foil that has been rinsed clean; metal trays from take-out that have been rinsed clean (but the cardboard lids are garbage).; paint cans that have been cleaned out; aerosol cans like for hairspray or whipping cream (news to me, too!)

OUT – hangers, pots and pans, screws and hardware, electronics, appliances, and generally anything else made of metal.


IN – jars and bottles of all kinds and colours.

OUT – glasses, plates, bowls, and kitchen baking dishes, light bulbs, windows, any broken pieces.

Other Cartons

IN – milk and juice cartons; tetra packs for drinks, soup, milk.

So, let’s get to it!

14 thoughts on “Going Blue

  1. Moira

    This is still a bit confusing (But a great step forward). For plastics: what’s the difference between a toiletry bottle and a makeup bottle…if they are plastic and have the recycling logo 1 through 7?
    For metals: Pringles cans, really? If so, why not the foil backed cardboard lids for tinfoil leftover containers (once washed)?

    And, since we’re on the subject: for Green bins…can you put butcher paper in there? With the sticky label attached? How about the black inside paper that the superstore uses. Is that waxed or plasticized? Waxed can go in, but plasticized can’t. How about parchment paper? It’s siliconized…so I assume not in the green bin but I’m not sure. FYI, the cardboard boxes you get at Farm Boy hot food counter are plasticized as I found out the hard way after putting in my microwave. Don’t put them in the green bin. Wax, cellulose, silicone and plasticized papers/cardboards are so similar to each other. How’s a composter to know?

    BTW, if you have a wine cork that is not clearly plastic it can go in the green bin. Genuine first run cork is just cork (tree bark). Particle, pressed cork is held together with vegetable glue so it’s compostable too.

    1. I know, about the makeup bottles. They specifically excluded them. Maybe its because of trace metals or something? Or maybe the plastic is too hard, say, compared to a shampoo or body moisturizer bottle? Hm.

      And as for the green bin stuff…ugh, I’m still totally confused about that. I will have to contact the city about it. I searched and searched online to see if parchment paper could go in and got no definitive answer. Somewhere I read that silicon is a naturally occurring element, and since the paper will degrade, mixing in the silicon is okay. So I have been putting it in, but I still feel unsure about it.

      1. Moira

        Hey Lynn, silicon and silicone are radically different things.

        “Although it may appear that the words silicon and silicone can be used interchangeably, there are some significant differences between them. Silicon is a natural chemical element found in great abundance on Earth, primarily as a major component of common sand. Silicon is generally found in a crystalline form. Silicone is a man made substance derived from silicon and other chemical, and it may be a liquid or a rubber-like plastic polymer.”

        So while silicon could possibly go in the green bin…but it wouldn’t really compost per se (since it’s not organic) silicone shouldn’t. It is a plastic material. It’s the stuff that fake boobs are made of. Nothing that would break down in a composter for sure.

        So, parchment should definitely NOT go in the green bin. There can be times when it’s hard to tell parchment from waxed paper (which can go in) which is my dilemma.

  2. CapnPlanet

    “Does anyone actually not recycle anymore?” I too am always stunned when I come across people who don’t. Particularly when our cities continue to go out of the way to make it easier to do. We now have single-stream recycling (all recycling goes in a single container), very clear (and liberal) rules about what’s allowed. How much easier could it be?

    One nice thing about California is that “green waste” is pretty much ubiquitous. In particular, any food waste from inside the house goes in there and is eventually composted by the city. This includes things like pizza boxes (unsuitable for recycling because of the grease and food typically attached), and would in also include the tops of the takeout containers you mentioned (well, maybe not if there’s foil on the inside). Until we had kids our actual trash (i.e. non-recycled, non-composted stuff) was just pitifully small.

  3. i thought of you when i heard this on the radio the other morning. i have to say it makes a huge difference for us. we eat a lot of berries. i mean A LOT. our garbage bag was filled with clam shell containers, and little else. they take up a lot of room. so now i am giddy that they can go into our blue bin. and take up all the room in there!

    yeah recycling!

  4. Marianne

    Genuine cork (not the plastic ones) can be kept and saved for a cork recycling program. There is a shortage of real cork and the wine industry can only use virgin cork, so there are starting to be initiatives to recylce the corks to meet the demand for cork boards and other processed cork products. I know that the Girl Guides have been involved in a partnership to recylce corks, but a quick google didn’t bring up any current info on the program so I’m not sure if they’re still doing it.

    1. Moira

      According to my instructor at college (I’m in the Sommelier program at Algonquin) there are no cork recycling programs in our area. There are quite a few good recycling programs elsewhere…but the best you can do in the Ottawa area is to compost.

  5. I’m posting your post on my fridge, Lynn! I had read the article in the Citizen but promptly forgot some of the details. Now heading to fish OUT the plastic bags I tossed in… Thanks for the public service post!!

  6. Another benefit of the increase in plastics accepted is less anxiety for Mr. Chatty. Before I came along (armed with the recycling knowledge you’ve bestowed on me over the years), he was recycling everything. But when I explained to him the problem of recycling stuff you can’t recycle, and how it might cause the whole batch to get tossed, he took it seriously and checked with me each time he tried to recycle something.

    He was DISTRAUGHT with how many things he couldn’t recycle, especially the clam shells and produce containers that we crank through so quickly. There were lots of “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT” exclaims.

    This will definitely bring some peace to the poor guy.

    1. Hee hee hee…I must admit I chuckled thinking of Mr. Chatty getting all fretty over the recycling. On the other hand, I am pretty pleased with myself for forcing others to follow the rules. Success!

  7. CapnPlanet

    OOC does anyone know what the status quo for processing recycling materials is w.r.t. inappropriate items? Do they actually sort through it and sift out the bad stuff, or would they really toss a whole batch if it was found to be contaminated?

    1. A couple of years ago I contacted the city to ask some detailed questions about what could and couldn’t go in the bins. The guy there told me that the recyclers expect some contamination – I believe his number was up to 10%. Beyond that, he said that the recycling company “could” discard and entire truck’s worth of recycling as being too contaminated, and worse case, if a lot of it was junk, the city risked losing its contract with the company (although I REALLY doubt that would ever happen).

      However, the article I linked to above that announces the new recycling program implies that people were working to pick out the inappropriate stuff before. So I’m not sure if they really are discarding vast amounts of recyclables that are mixed in with crap, or if they work to separate it.

      Well, that was 100% not helpful, wasn’t it?

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