Out of the trash, into the blue box
We've come a long way in reducing and re-using
Garbage day used to mean pitching out old newspapers, bottles
and soup cans with the rest of the trash, but curbside recycling
has made it just as easy to toss that pop can in the blue
box as to stuff it in the garbage can. Back in 1982, only
about two percent of our municipal waste was recycled. Now,
52 percent of Canadian households have curbside recycling
while many others have access to recycling depots or both.
That means less junk is going to landfills.
With recycling, almost everything old can be new again: most
community recycling programs pick up paper, cans, glass and
plastic, and many recycle Christmas trees, yard waste and
large appliances too. Despite all this, each of us still throws
away 18 kilograms of residential waste daily.
- Recycling uses less energy and non-renewable resources and
emits less air and water pollution compared to producing new
- Recycling plastic uses only five to ten percent as much energy
as manufacturing new plastic.
- Every tonne of crushed waste glass used saves 1.2 tonnes
of raw materials and 135 litres of oil.
- Every glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to light
a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
- Every tonne of newspaper recycled saves 19 trees and three
cubic metres of landfill space.
- From 1988 to 1996, the volume of cardboard boxes, paper bags
and cartons sent to landfills was cut by 60 percent.
- Every tonne of cans recycled saves 136 tonnes of iron ore
and 3.6 barrels of oil.
- Since 1985, more than 400,000 tonnes of cans have been diverted
- Every aluminum can recycled saves enough energy to power
an average television for 108 minutes.
- Toronto spends $59 per tonne to send blue box materials to
recyclers compared to $87 per tonne to send waste to landfills.
- Recycling creates six times as many jobs as other waste management
options. These jobs include: haulers and sorters of material,
equipment manufacturers, importers and exporters.
- Mary Vincent, Steven Fick, Canadian Geographic
This article first appeared
in Canadian Geographic magazine, May/June
1999. It may not be reproduced without written permission
For more information on our recycling Geo Map in the May/June 1999 issue, see the following sources:
- Recycling Council of Ontario
- Canadian Encyclopedia
- Canada and the State of the Planet: The Socieal, Economic
Trends that are Shaping our Lives (by Michael
Keating and the Canadian Global Change Program Oxford University
- The Canadian Green Consumer Guide
- The Pollution Probe Foundation
- The cities of: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg,
London, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Quebec, Fredericton,
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