Recycling is a great way to cut down on waste contribution and help give back to the environment and your city. In fact, over 90% of Edmonton alone voluntarily participate in their city's recycling programs. Each city might have their own rules when it comes to recycling but we wanted to provide some reasons why recycling is important and share some tips to help you make the most of your recycling journey.
First and foremost, recycling is good for the environment. Recycling helps conserve landfill space and reduces the amount of landfill gas that is released into the atmosphere. It also helps conserve natural resources. By recycling paper, we don't have to cut down as many trees and it requires less water in the process. Recycling plastic or metals means less digging for fossil fuels or strip mingling. Producing aluminum from scrap for example reduces energy use and air pollution by 95%! And recycling 500 tonnes of aluminum is the equivalent of removing 1,732 cars from the road in one year.
Recycling isn't just good for the environment, it's also good for the city you live in. Almost 20% of residential waste is avoided in landfills because of city-run recycling programs. This means that recycled products can be turned into new products locally and reduce pollution and emissions for a happier and safer city.
What can I recycle?
Although a lot of cities vary in the structure of their recycling programs, a lot of the same rules still apply. Paper, tin cans, glass jars and bottles, plastic containers and bags are almost always acceptable.
- For paper, this can include newspaper, magazines, catalogues, cards, non-foil gift wrap, paper bags, and all that junk mail you end up with. Cardboard should be flattened and broken down and if you're recycling pizza boxes remember to remove any greasy layers.
- For metals, clean tin cans (with the lids tucked safely into the cans), aluminum cans and containers, and empty non-hazardous aerosol cans.
- For glass, that includes jars like pickle or jam jars and bottles like ketchup or beverages.
- And for plastic, that includes plastic containers, stretchy plastic bags, household cleaner or shampoo bottles, milk jugs, or ice cream pails and containers.
We recommend checking with your city's recycling program to see what is and isn't accepted, and how best to sort or organize. Some will prefer having everything in a blue bag, others might want your items pre-sorted. Alberta has a Recycling Hotline you can use if you are unsure of where an item belongs. We've also gathered some cities' recycling programs here:
These resources will also help you find local bottle depots, eco stations, and waste facilities. They can offer refunds or help with materials that require additional considerations and can't be easily recycled or disposed of.
Recycling Tips and Tricks
Some helpful reminders for when you are recycling:
- Don't recycle things smaller than a credit card.
- If you want to take your green living a step further, we recommend visiting our blog on Composting 101.
- There are many programs in place to help recycle electronics like phones or computers so learn which are available near you.
- The best way to cut down on waste is always to reduce and reuse first so try using reusable bags instead of plastic and looking for other green opportunities.
- Municipalities are responsible for providing waste and recycling services to their residents. For more information on what you can recycle, contact your municipality.
This is a great place to start your recycling journey and there are plenty of online communities and resources that can help you on your way. But until then if you are looking for more ways to live green, like how to save energy in the kitchen or laundry room, you can find all of our blogs here.