10 Myths About Recycling

The concept of recycling has been around for ages, generations have grown up learning about the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) and (at least in this part of the world) there is a negative association with not recycling. Having said that, we know that there is a lot of miss-communication, half truths and gray areas around recycling and we would like to help set the record straight on a few of these recycling myths.


(Photo credits: www.recyclereminders.com)

Myth #1 – Recycling is the Only Way to Reduce Trash

While recycling is a really great way to reduce trash you can also tackle this issue by shopping mindfully. For example, do you really need the product with all the extra packaging? Could you choose an alternative product to the one packed in Styrofoam? Can you buy in bulk? Can you purchase reusable items instead?

Another simple way to reduce your trash output is by composting all your organic matter. If you don’t have a garden, check to see that your city operates a composting program. These programs are becoming more and more popular.

Myth #2 – It Takes More Energy to Recycle Than What We Save

Not true. The energy required to convert raw materials such as minerals, oil and trees into metals, plastics and paper is far greater than the amount of energy required to collect and recycle our paper, bottles and cans into new products.

True, the trucks burn gas and pollute. But so do garbage trucks, firetrucks, cars, school buses and after all,  the waste must be collected, whether it’s recycled or not. A recycling program should allow garbage collection to become less frequent, or to use fewer trucks, offsetting the cost and energy involved.

Myth #3 – You Must be Vigilant About Rinsing and Removing Labels 

This is a half truth at best. If we’re talking about an old peanut butter jar, yes, you should give that a wash out first. If we’re talking about a pop or wine bottle, rinsing is less important. One of the main reasons that we like bottles to have been rinsed out is because sticky, sweet smelling  beverage containers attract wasps, bees, flies and other bugs. For labels, we would prefer that you leave them on to identify the registered beverage containers and get your refunds back.

See, it’s not as much work as you may have thought!

Myth #4 – If It Has A Plastic Code, It’s Recyclable

Those numerical codes on plastic containers do not necessarily mean that that product is recyclable (for curbside pick up). Those codes usually represent the category of plastic that the product is made from. The main distinction between plastic products has to do with the resin from which it was made and then any additives such as dyes, UV inhibitors, softeners, adhesives etc. All of those components determine how quickly and at what temperature the plastic melts so recycling is different for each type. Click here for more info on plastic codes. 

Myth #5 – You Get A Deposit Refund On All Beverage Containers

Nope. Not True. It goes like this; If you paid a deposit, you get a deposit back. Not all ready to drink beverages have been registered for deposits, see our recent post on registered brands here.  For example, milk cartons are recyclable but there is no deposit on them so you won’t get a deposit back when you bring them in. You will however, feel really good about yourself.

This can be especially frustrating if your grocery store charged you a deposit in error. If you are ever unsure about which beverage containers you paid a deposit on refer to this list on the Encorp website.

Myth #6 – Pizza Boxes Can’t Be Recycled.  

Soiled food wrappers made from biodegradable material can be composted (This includes pizza boxes, coffee cups, hamburger boxes etc)  and in some municipalities soiled pizza boxes with the food remains scrapped out can still be accepted for recycling, this varies from town to town so check with your local city hall. If you can’t recycle the messy part of the box you can still rip off the clean top and recycle that.

Myth #7 – You Can’t Recycle Light Bulbs

You most certainly can recycle light bulbs at Island Return It. We will accept CFLs, LEDs, fluorescent tubes, flash lights, halogen, incandescent bulbs and even Christmas lights on a string! For extra points (of the karma variety) you can bring in ballasts (No PCBs), large outdoor flood lights, lamps, and fixtures. And the best part, it’s free!

Myth #8 – We Don’t Offer Full Refunds

Island Return It has always offered full refunds on registered bottle drives and recently we were given the go ahead to refund full deposits on all beer products coming into our recycling centres too. *Esquimalt and Salt Spring will be added later on in 2014

Myth #9 – Biodegradable Stuff Is Fine To Throw Away

Organic matter doesn’t break down properly when it is encased in plastic and never touches the ground or is exposed to air.  Organic matter in a landfill  will undergo anaerobic decomposition.Which means that solid waste that is buried in a landfill does not receive oxygen and will produce methane. Methane is 72% more powerful than carbon monoxide. By allowing your organic solid waste to be exposed to oxygen either by turning your compost pile or from worms and other living organisms cruising around in the compost, it will help decompose it.

Myth #10 – Recycling Paper, Cardboard and Toilet Paper Rolls Won’t Save the Trees

This one is just silly. Of course recycling paper products will save trees. For one thing, recycling greatly reduces the need to farm trees for our never ending demand for paper products. While there are many tree farms in existence the harvesting of old growth forests is still a reality and it can take up to 20 years for a new tree to be ready for harvest.

For more information, visit our website:  islandreturnit.com