Ask the Councillor: Can people put plastic bags in their recycling, as Hamilton allows?
Resident N.R. asks:
Can you comment on how we handle plastic bags? Can people put them in their recycling?
In order to accept plastic bags, the processing facility situated in Burlington that receives all curbside Blue Box material would be required to purchase and install, at a significant price, a mechanical bag breaker and a vacuum system to effectively separate plastic bags and film from the other recyclable commodities. Halton Region’s current agreement with the Burlington facility ends in April 2018.
The few municipalities that accept plastic bags in the Blue Box program do encounter processing challenges at their facilities due to the nature of plastic bags and film. Due to their lightweight, plastic becomes caught in equipment requiring routine downtime for maintenance. Recyclable material such as metal and glass also become contaminated with plastic devaluing their commodity price when sold to be recycled. Plastic bags and film are also a different category of plastic which means they cannot be processed together with plastic bottles, or plastic containers, but must be separated before plastic bottles and containers are bundled and shipped to markets.
For this reason, a number of municipalities are no longer accepting plastic bags and film or allowing households to place recyclable material in plastic bags prior to collection. Halton Region strongly encourages residents to use, where and when possible, reusable bags.
When Halton Region develops their next Solid Waste Management Strategy (tentatively planned for 2017), they will closely watch any enhancements in processing technology with regards to handling plastic bags and film, and may request a price for plastic bags and film to be accepted in their next agreement to process Blue Box material. They are also working with other municipalities to encourage the Province to implement extended producer responsibility initiatives to support municipal programs and to effectively streamline acceptable Blue Box material across the Province. We anticipate the Province will implement enhanced and extended waste diversion legislation in the coming year or two.
Some local grocery stores do take back plastic bags. Halton’s Take It Back website provides information about plastic shopping bags and includes a link to the Canadian Plastic Industry Association on-line tool to search for a local store that accepts plastic bags.
July 7, 2015 @ 4:39 am
In a perfect world all the separation would be done at curbside, by residents. Maybe one day they’ll invent better and better mechanical separators. They may be costly now, but almost nobody tallies up the cost of degrading the environment by the ever increasing size of landfill sites. I think people, and governments are slowly waking up to this fact.
May 23, 2015 @ 7:37 am
Kevin, ‘plastic’ bags are not accepted in the Green Bin. There are some plastic-like ‘liners’ available, see this Halton Region page for further details http://www.halton.ca/cms/one.aspx?portalId=8310&pageId=12182
May 25, 2015 @ 10:22 am
Sorry, Gareth… you are correct… When I was living in Thornhill, I was able to do this, specifically for pet waste… In Burlington, I have been concerned about all of this going to landfill, now, instead of being, somehow, recycled, as was the case in Thornhill… Thanks…
May 25, 2015 @ 4:27 pm
That is interesting Kevin, I’m surprised they take pet waste in the green bin in Thornhill. Here are some tips for disposing of pet waste ecologically http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/waste/disposing-of-dog-poop-the-green-way I can’t comment on whether biodegradable dog waste bags can be flushed in Halton region as the article suggests, I’ve never asked.
May 20, 2015 @ 10:35 pm
May 20, 2015 @ 2:37 pm
May I ask why plastic bags are accepted in the Green Bin? How are the contents of the Green Bin processed? Thank you.