Recycling in Canada: Handling Hazardous Materials and Reducing Pollution

Recycling offers plenty of benefits for households and the environment. It helps reduce environmental pollution and waste transported to incinerators and landfills. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, creates jobs, and helps conserve valuable resources such as minerals, water, soil, and energy. It is a way to save energy and show concern for the environment.

Municipalities and Waste Management
Most municipalities in Canada run their own recycling programs. There are various systems in place, depending on the territory or province, including the blue box system, grey box, green bin, and blue box. Green bins are used in the Halifax regional municipality, Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto, and other places. The list of recyclable items also varies from province to province. Glass jars and bottles and plastic lids and bottles are usually acceptable. The list of unacceptable items includes ceramics, mirror and window glass, light bulbs, medications, and caps and straws. Acceptable items are also milk cartons, pop cans and vegetable tins, and aluminum containers. The City of Montreal, for example, accepts cardboard and paper items such as corrugated cardboard, shoe boxes, frozen food boxes, cereal boxes, envelopes, and newspapers. Glossy and matte magazines are also acceptable. In addition to paper and cardboard, there are recyclable plastics and metal and glass items. Examples of metal items that are not recyclable include housewares, tools, toys, pots, screws, and scrap metal. You can recycle aluminum foil and plates, lids, and soda cans. The City of Montreal also accepts plastics such as bread and grocery bags, food packaging, paper towel bags, as well as toilet paper bags. Finally, acceptable glass items are jars and bottles while dishes, porcelain, fluorescent lights, and drinking glasses are not recyclable. Jars and bottles can be recycled with and without the label and come in various colors and shapes. Diapers, wallpaper, and stickers cannot be recycled. The same goes for greasy and dirty cardboard and paper.

In any case, it is important to clean out or rinse cans, containers, and other items to remove odor and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Fruit flies are another problem. Workers in the recycling centers often clean all items manually.

Hazardous Recyclable Materials
There are hazardous, dangerous items such as infectious and toxic substances, organic peroxides, compounds that release flammable gasses, materials that are liable to combustion, and flammable liquids. Some items are excluded from the list, for example, waste collected by municipalities and materials that are conveyed in transit or are exported. In Canada, the disposal, recycling, and collection of waste are the responsibility of the municipal authorities. They develop and implement regulations regarding the licensing of treatment facilities, carriers, and generators. There are various regulations on the interprovincial movement of dangerous waste and import and export of hazardous materials and waste.

In general, the provincial and federal governments share responsibility. The territorial and provincial governments control the movement of hazardous waste within their jurisdictions while the federal government controls territorial, interprovincial, national, and international movements. Canada is also a party to international agreements on waste management.

Benefits of Recycling
In Canada, recycling helps reduce the consumption of fuel by up to 7 percent. The use of recyclable materials also reduces vehicle mass. This is a way to manage toxic waste and reuse wood, metals, and other materials.

Other Ways to Show Concern for the Environment
Composting and using energy saving appliances are ways to reduce pollution, conserve energy, and adopt a sustainable lifestyle.