Plastics by the numbers

Halton residents love to recycle!  In fact, over 90% of Halton households place a Blue Box out for collection every week!  If there’s one material type that causes confusion and concern, it’s plastics!

There are many different types of products and packaging made from plastic, so knowing which materials can go in the Blue Box can be challenging.

First, municipal Blue Boxes are for packaging materials, not product materials.  Plastic bottles and plastic tubs are packaging, so they’re accepted.  Plastic products like chairs, toys, car seats, or snowboards are not accepted in the Blue Box.

In a recent blog post, we shared the history and meaning of the recycling triangle.  Many people see this recycling triangle on the bottom of a plastic item and assume the item can be recycled in the Blue Box.  Remember: the purpose of this numbered recycling symbol is to identify the resin — or plastic type — of the item.  The number does not tell you whether an item is acceptable for recycling.

There are currently seven types of identified plastics:

  • #1 Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE): plastic beverage bottles
  • #2 High-density polyethylene (HDPE): laundry detergent bottles, some shopping bags
  • #3 Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): electrical cable insulation, inflatable products
  • #4 Low-density polyethylene (LDPE): plastic baggies
  • #5 Polypropylene (PP): large plastic yogurt tubs
  • #6 Polystyrene (PS): black and clear take-out containers, coffee cup lids, Styrofoam
  • #7 Other: food containers, “compostable” plastics

But instead of focusing on the plastic number, focus on the packaging type.  Currently, Halton Region accepts plastic bottles (without caps) and plastic tubs and lids in the Blue Box.  It’s that simple — plastic bottles and plastic tubs and lids.  If it isn’t a plastic bottle or a plastic tub and lid, at the moment, it does not go in Halton’s Blue Box.

However, starting in April 2013, Halton will be adding even more plastic packaging to its Blue Box program!  In April, you’ll be able to add items like clear “clamshell” containers, single serve yogurt cups, coffee cup lids, plastic plant pots, and black and clear take-out containers to the Blue Box!

New equipment is being added to the recycling facility, so it has the ability to separate the different types of plastic.  Industry has been working hard to ensure that there are manufacturers able to take these additional plastic items and turn them into new products.

In Ontario, not every Blue Box program is the same, so it is best to learn about the program in your area.  If you are still unsure if a material is accepted in Halton’s Blue Box program, use our Put Waste In Its Place tool or dial 311 or 1-866-442-5866.

About joycewychan

I'm Joyce Chan, the Waste Management Program Coordinator for Halton Region where I am involved with project management. I am an avid skier and by using the Blue Box and GreenCart we can all help keep winter white.
This entry was posted in Blue Box, Product Stewardship, Recycle and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Plastics by the numbers

  1. Loren Blackstock says:

    Very effective web site, this really answered some of my questions. Thank you!.

  2. Pingback: The history of recycling in Ontario | HaltonRecycles

  3. Pingback: Fifty Shades of Blue | HaltonRecycles

  4. Pingback: Why we can now recycle rigid plastic packaging in Halton | HaltonRecycles

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