According to a 2007 news story by the CBC, Ottawa's apartment tenants throw out an astonishing 81 per cent of all materials that could be recycled!
While the routine behind garbage and recycling collection can certainly be different when you're living in an apartment (compared to living in single-family house), just because you're in a high-rise doesn't mean you're above recycling.
What You Can Recycle
Although the bins might be different sizes and different colors than the ones in single-family homes, the same types of materials can still be recycled when you're living in an apartment building:
·Plastic containers with a recycling triangle on the bottom, including all bottles, pails, tubs and jugs
·Aluminum drink cans
·Tin food cans
·Milk and juice cartons
·Glass jars and bottles (clear and colored)
·Newspapers and inserts, flyers and junk mail
·Magazines, phone books, household paper, shredded paper and envelopes
·Cardboard egg cartons and paper tubes
·Flattened cardboard (e.g., cereal, cracker, tissue, laundry, shoe and packing boxes)
All apartment buildings should have on site recycling containers (and some even have dedicated recycling rooms on each floor, for maximum tenant convenience). If you're not sure where the recycling bins in your building are located, check with your building manager.
For proper disposal of special waste such as paint, construction materials, appliances, tires, or old mattresses and furniture, talk to the building manager or superintendent of your building - don't just mindlessly throw it away!
Avoid Recycling Bin Contamination
With so many things capable of being recycled, why then is so much of it thrown away? A leading factor in the amount of recyclables that are tossed out with the trash is the contamination of apartment recycling bins - and it's an issue that apartment tenants can prevent with just a little bit of effort.
When materials are placed in the wrong recycling bin, nothing can be recycled! The bin is either left behind or the contents must be collected as garbage, as it is too costly and time-consuming to sort through. To avoid this:
·Don't put your recyclables in plastic bags. These bags cannot be recycled, and as a result, anything placed inside plastic bags cannot be recycled either. As well, don't tie your materials together, as processing facilities cannot remove string or wires.
·Remember, glass, metal and plastic go into one bin. Paper and cardboard go into the other. Don't put your material into the first recycling bin you see, and don't toss any sort of garbage into the recycling bin!
·Not everything is recyclable. Items such as hard plastics (cups and dishes), styrofoam packaging, motor oil bottles, aerosol cans, chip bags and candy wrappers, etc. should not be put in the recycling bins.
Get Paid to Recycle
If, for whatever reason, you need a bigger incentive to recycle than helping the environment, how's this - recycling can save you money, too! Instead of placing them in your apartment building's bins, you can always return your empty wine, beer, and spirit container to The Beer Store for a full deposit refund. This includes glass bottles, bag-in-box, Tetra Pak containers, plastic bottles, and aluminum and steel containers on which deposits have been charged.
It's clear that as apartment tenants, we need to work extra hard to make sure we recycle everything we can. To this end, the City of Ottawa has made a Recycling and Disposal Guide available to all Ottawa residents living in apartment buildings. It can be downloaded at: http://www.ottawa.ca/city_services/recycling_garbage/apartment/index_en.html