One of the easiest things you can do as an individual to have a positive impact on the environment is recycle. Recycling saves energy, is a great way to conserve raw materials and aids in reducing landfill space.
However, if done incorrectly, it can actually contaminate materials that are normally recyclable. Improper disposal can actually make the processing of items more challenging for local waste management programs. In order to avoid this, staying informed as to how to properly dispose of your packaging after its use is very important.
Fortunately, you can always access the following guide to help you make green decisions! (Be sure to bookmark the page after reading!)
Plastic grocery or retail bags are recyclable. To make collection easier, you can put all plastic film, grocery bags, and thin plastics (such as wrapping around paper towels, empty bread bags, rinsed milk bags, dry-cleaning bags, etc.) in one plastic grocery bag.
Disposal Tip: Make sure to cut off any zippers from reusable, re-sealable storage bags. The zippers belong in the garbage!
Kraft paper bags are 100% recyclable as they produce a natural finish.
Disposal Tip: Before you toss the bags into the blue bin, don’t forget to remove any handles that aren’t made of paper! This includes plastic, ribbon or string materials (twisted paper handles are fine).
However, the shopping bags you bring home from the department store and other retailers may present a bit more of a problem!
A lot of the high-end shopping bags are composed of white cardboard materials which come with a default lamination (matte or glossy). Lamination provides an extra layer of protection to withstand frequent use, tears, fingerprints, smudges, and stains. Essentially, it improves the overall experience of the design by enhancing the ink colours of the bag.
Nonetheless, with lamination, the composition of the bags are no longer 100% paper. Instead, it uses a combination of paper and plastic which can’t always be recycled with typical mixed paper products.
This is because, the recycling of paper products requires the decompostion of individual fibers with water, whereas, plastic requires heat. As a result, processing plastic and paper together is much more challenging and time-consuming. Thus, the laminated layers usually require a special facility/equipment to be properly recycled.
Alternatively, you can always reuse the bags as lunch and grocery bags or use them for craft projects!
All boxes are 100% recyclable. However similar to white cardboard bags, if there’s any presence of lamination, they require a special recycling facility.
For example, luxury products such as perfume and makeup packaging often use lamination in their design for rigid boxes.
Likewise, lamination can appear on folding cartons such as cereal boxes or corrugated boxes to enhance their appearance.
If a box uses an oil varnish or spot UV finishing instead of lamination, they can be processed with mixed paper products. An oil varnish finishing is an alternative to lamination which many companies use to achieve a similar glossy look, but is 100% recyclable.
So how can you tell the difference between a laminated finishing and oil varnish? It may be a little difficult, but there are some key distinctions which we covered in a previous blog post. Click here to find out more about the different finishing businesses use!
Reusable bags are available in many materials such as Non-Woven polypropylene (non woven PP), bamboo, hemp, canvas and cotton.
From these options, only non woven PP bags are recyclable because the material in use is a thermoplastic polymer. This means that you can melt it down to make it into something else.
It’s important to note that non woven PP cooler bags cannot be recycled because of the additional insulated interior!
So what can you do with your reusable bags? Canvas, cotton, bamboo and hemp bag can all be composted as they’re made from biodegradable plant fibers.
Or Like the saying goes, ‘One person’s junk can become another person’s treasure,’ consider donating your old reusable bags to those in need and to reduce landfill space. Many food pantries and thrift stores accept these bags for their patrons to use. Similarly, libraries and preschools can often use them too.
Moreover, with just a quick wash, your old reusable bags can be as brand new and last longer! Here are a few tips you can follow to care for your bags:
- Always wash your reusable grocery bags after each use to prevent cross contamination between meats and foods.
- Ensure you remove the bottom insert of your reusable bag before washing.
- Clean inserts, which are usually cardboard or cardboard covered with vinyl or fabric, with a disinfecting spray cleaner.
- Make sure to turn each bag inside out before washing for better cleaning.
- Hand wash your canvas and fabric reusable bags with hot water and regular detergent. Afterwards, line dry it.
For more details and care tips, click here!
Remember: Just because something isn’t recyclable doesn’t mean it can’t be eco-friendly.
If you want to let your customers know how they can properly dispose of their LeKAC packaging, give us a call to confirm! If something isn’t recyclable, there’s a good chance that there are many alternative uses you may not think about.
Contact Your Local Recycling Facility
Your commitment to recycling makes a big difference! Although we’ve provided a general guide, your local recycling facility is open to the public to answer all of your questions! As a matter of fact, many facilities offer online waste sorting guides which you can follow to reduce disposal errors!
Overall, together we can recycle correctly if we continue to stay informed about proper waste management!