What is Contamination?
In terms of recycling, contamination is anything that is not accepted in your residential recycling program. This can mean a variety of things and can vary depending on where you live:
- Recyclables that are not on the accepted list for your municipality.
- Material that is accepted for recycling in other places, but can’t go in your residential blue bin i.e. electronics, household hazardous waste, batteries and much more, as they require special handling.
- Containers with leftover food residue.
- Recyclables that have been bundled together (i.e. tied together in a plastic bag, instead of being tossed in loosely.)
The Impact of Contamination
We can all make an effort to reduce the amount of contamination in our blue bin. Recyclables are bought and sold like any other commodity. Even if a few contaminated items get baled together with other clean items, it can ruin the chances of that bale being accepted by a manufacturer to make new materials. When you put your items in the blue bin, they should be empty from food and drink residue. In the end, contamination can reduce the value of our recyclables, increasing the cost of recycling for your community.
To be a better recycler, follow these tips to ensure your recyclables are free of residue and don’t contaminate other recyclables.
- Make sure your plastic, glass and metal containers are empty before you toss them into the blue bin.
- Don’t put anything in your blue bin that your municipality does not accept.
- Toss your recyclables into the bin loosely, don’t place them in a bag or nest the materials (stuff them into one another.) For health and safety reasons, workers must be able to see the material.
Top 10 types of contamination found in the blue bin – DO NOT put these in your blue bin!
- Disposable beverage cups
- Coffee pods
- Clothing and textiles
- Compostable packaging
- Steel pots and pans
- Aluminum foil and plates
- Paper towels, tissues and napkins
- Plastic pouches and laminates (i.e. Chip bags)
These items are recyclable, but are not accepted in the blue bin:
- Household hazardous waste (HHW)
- Ink and toner cartridges
- Paint cans and oil cans
- Plastic bags and cellophane
What to do with other recyclable items:
There are some materials that can be recycled, but not in your residential blue bin. These items require special processing in order for them to be recycled properly.
In Winnipeg, many residents have access to the three 4R Depots located in different parts of the city. The depots are a place where residents can drop off items they no longer need, but can be recycled, reused or composted. The depots also accept larger items that aren’t accepted in your blue bin.
Throughout the province, there are many options for where to take these items. The Recycle Manitoba website is the easiest way for people to find out where they can take their personal and household items they no longer need, depending on where they live. This website provides information about where consumers can drop off items, that aren’t accepted in the blue bin, to be safely recycled. Visit RecycleManitoba.ca to find a drop-off location close to you.