In the wintertime the snow and cold can have a real impact on collecting and processing Blue Box material. When everyone else is wishing for and dreaming of a white Christmas, we in the waste management business like it mild and snow-free… until about mid–January, at least.
The higher-than-average volume of material after Christmas is one thing, but add the snow and the cold, it becomes grief. Why? The snow makes everything wet which tends to slow down the processing speed at the MRF (Material Recovery Facility). Add temperatures below zero and what was wet is now frozen, and often stuck to other material.
So, volume, snow and cold are not a good mix and will always lead to processing delays which lead to backlogs of material that build up quicker than can be processed. And this problem doesn’t just affect some MRFs, it impacts all MRFs right after Christmas. It causes us in the waste management business to pull our hair out, which is not pretty.
Thankfully, this problem is short-lived most of the time. There are a few simple things we can do to help alleviate the problem when it does occur. It will never be fully resolved but some actions can be taken to help, and any help is good help. Here’s some suggestions:
- Do not toss your Blue Box material in the garbage. These are valuable commodities, which is why we recycle them. They do nothing when sitting in a landfill.
- Squeeze your plastic bottles, milk cartons and juice boxes (but don’t squish them flat).
- Flatten your cardboard and boxboard, and bundle and tie newspaper (the less air the collection crews pick up the better. More material in a smaller space is a huge help).
- Ensure your Blue Box is visible to the collectors, but don’t place on top of snow banks.
- Remove the snow from your Blue Box.
There you have it. The important thing is to keep recycling regardless of the weather. By being aware of some of the issues weather presents, we can make our recycling even easier if we all take a little extra time to help.
About this guest blogger:
I’m David Miles, the Manager of Waste Planning and Collection for Halton Region. Some call me the Chief Problem Solver. I am very proud of the success of our waste diversion programs in Halton and applaud the extra efforts of Halton residents and waste management staff who make it happen.