Have you ever wondered how to dispose of single use plastics? What goes in which bin? Recycling rules can be confusing, but we’re here to break it down.
We’ve written other posts about recycling food grade packaging and common household items. In this post, we’re going over each banned single use plastic product category and letting you know how to properly dispose of them.
Read on to learn more!
The Plastic Ban’s Timelines
First, let’s give you a refresher on the proposed plastic ban timelines.
As of December 20, 2022, Canadian businesses will no longer be able to manufacture or import most of the single use items included in the ban. By December 2025 all plastic items in this ban will be phased out!
|Single Use Plastic Item||Ban on Manufacture and Import Date||Ban on Sale Date||Ban on Manufacture, Import, and Sale for Export Date|
|Checkout bags, cutlery, straws foodservice ware, stir sticks,||December 20, 2022||December 20, 2023||December 20, 2025|
|Ring carriers||June 20, 2023||June 20, 2024||December 20, 2025|
|Flexible straws packaged with beverage containers||N/A||June 20, 2024||December 20, 2025|
Decoding Your Plastic
If you’ve ever looked at a piece of plastic and seen the recycling symbol, it’s usually accompanied by a number from 1 to 7. This number indicates the type of plastic that is in the item. Though not every recycling facility will take all numbered plastics, it’s alwats good to check which kind of plastic you have with you!
Here’s what each number means:
|Plastic Number||Type of Plastic||Examples of use|
|1||Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)||Single use beverage bottles, salad dressings, vegetable oil bottles|
|2||High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)||Milk cartons, detergent bottles, toys, rigid pipes|
|3||Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl)||Plumbing pipes, credit cards, toys, IV fluid bags, medical tubes|
|4||Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)||Plastic wrap, sandwich bags, beverage cup liners, squeezable bottles|
|5||Polypropylene (PP)||Hot food containers, bottle caps, packaging tape, straws, clear cups|
|6||Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)||Cups, takeout food containers, cutlery|
|7||Other||Electronics, DVD/CDs, clear plastic cutlery|
Overall, PET and HDPE are the most commonly recyclable types of plastic. If you’re not sure what your local recycling facility accepts, be sure to check before you toss! Many large cities also have searchable indexes for recycling and proper disposal of waste, textiles and more! Guidance for disposing of the next six items can vary depending on where you live, so be sure to check with your local recycling guidelines!
Plastic bags make up a large portion of plastic waste found on shorelines. In 2021, almost 17,000 plastic bags were found on Canadian shorelines! Marine animals like turtles commonly mistaken floating plastic bags as a jellyfish snack, and ingest them.
So how can you properly dispose of these bags so they don’t cause unnecessary pollution?
Some grocery stores offer bag recycling programs, where customers can drop off clean plastic bags to be recycled. Ensure that the bags don’t have any receipts or stickers on them, and they should be good to go! In some municipalities, plastic bags are accepted by the local recycling facility, but always be sure to check before you toss!
While it’s possible to recycle single use plastic cutlery in some cities, many municipal recycling facilities don’t accept them! Though they may be made of recyclable plastic, their unique shapes make them harder to break down to be made into other items. Especially for black or clear plastic cutlery, recycling system sensors can’t identify them, so they could possibly contaminate other plastics!
Most plastic straws are made of number 5 plastic, which is not usually recyclable! While some independent recycling facilities may accept number 5 plastic, most local recycling plants don’t!
Not sure what to replace your plastic straw with? In a previous blog post, we provided 8 alternatives for single use plastic straws, just in case you needed some ideas.
To dispose of single use plastics in takeout containers, it’s important to know what can and can’t go in your blue bin. While hard plastic and clamshell containers are recyclable, it’s important to make sure they’re clean and free of any labels.
While the labels on clamshell containers might be recyclable themselves, the presence of adhesives can make the recycling process longer!
Additionally, if the container is made of black plastic, it’s not recyclable! Though the containers tend to have recycling symbols on them, because of their colour, many facilities have trouble detecting them!
When recycling any kind of food packaging, remember to:
- Remove any labels or stickers
- Rinse out any leftover food and dry the container
For takeout packaging made of paper, these aren’t recyclable if they have excessive grease spots or wax coatings. While grease spots are easy to spot, wax coatings might be more difficult. One easy way to find out if a piece of takeout packaging has a wax coating is to do a scratch test! Wax coatings will come off if lightly scratched, exposing if you can recycle it or not.
To learn more about disposing of food grade packaging, check out this blog post!
Similar to plastic cutlery, plastic stir sticks are not recyclable. In addition to being too small to recycle, many are also made of a dark coloured plastic! Though it may seem like an insignificant amount of plastic, sorting plastic waste correctly ensures that the overall recycling process is able to go more smoothly.
Drink Ring Carriers
Plastic drink ring carriers have been the face of ocean plastic pollution for decades. Images of marine animals tangled with these plastic rings led to public backlash.
Since 1994, ring carriers sold in the United States must be degradable! In order to meet this standard, many manufacturers make the plastic rings photodegradable, meaning they break down in light. Despite this, these rings can take up to three months to break down.
Though plastic can break down, as it degrades it turns into microplastics which are more likely to cause long-term harm by entering animals’ systems. Microplastics were even found in human blood for the first time earlier this year!
To dispose of single use plastic drink ring carriers, they do unfortunately have to go in the trash! One way to ensure they don’t ensnare any wildlife is to cut open each of the rings before throwing it away.
What Can I Do?
When deciding how to dispose of single use plastics, taking a moment to stop and consider where to put your plastic can make a major difference for the environment. Packaging makes up for approximately 36% of all plastic produced, and globally, we produce 400 million tonnes of plastic a year!
Canada’s single use plastic ban is a stepping stone to reduce the amount of plastic that we produce and discard, but you can do your part too! Educating yourself on how to dispose of single use plastic in your city is a great first step. Alongside properly disposing of your single use plastic packaging, you can also start looking for plastic packaging alternatives!
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Here at LeKAC, we strive to provide eco-friendly packaging solutions that will work for every business! Interested in learning more? Contact us today to connect with one of our knowledgeable Business Development Consultants and see how we can help you get started.