Are you part of Canada's plastic problem?

If you’ve been trying to reduce your reliance on plastic products by introducing biodegradable bags into your life, you may want to reconsider your choice.

Newly-released research from the University of Plymouth in the UK has shown that these oxo-biodegradable bags remain intact in soil and sea three years after being thrown away.

According to Environmental Defence Canada, Canadians use 2.86 billion plastic bags a year. The organization has called for the implementation of a national recycling target to ensure 100 per cent of single-use plastics are captured and at least 85 per cent are recycled by 2025.

But following all the rules for throwing away products can get a bit confusing, particularly if items like biodegradable bags may not be as effective as you initially thought. If you’re committing to try your best to property dispose of your products, here are some rules you should keep in mind:

  1. Watch out for the lids

    If you’re recycling a container with a lid made of a different material, it’s likely you will have to separate each component into different bins for disposal. Some coffee cups can’t actually be recycled because of the plastic lining and some local recycling programs do not accept caps on water bottles.

  2. Suburbs vs. city

    Do you commute into the city for work? You’ll want to make sure you’re aware of any differences in recycle, organics and garbage rules between the different municipalities. For example, black plastic containers should not be recycled in the city of Toronto but can be recycled in Halton and Peel regions.

  3. Clean containers only

    If you know you’re putting a container or bottle in the recycling, make sure you’re cleaning it out beforehand. Food or liquids will contaminate the entire bin and breakdown any paper products that could have been reused.

  4. Look out for stickers

    If you’re disposing of a recyclable product or you’re tossing something like an orange peel in the organics bin, make sure there aren't any stickers on the items. They should be removed and put in the garbage.

  5. Check your pizza box

    This might seem like an easy one, toss the cardboard box in the recycling, but if the box is greasy it can’t go in the same bin as other paper products. Depending on where you live, you should breakdown the greasy box and toss it in the organics bin.

How often to do you separate your trash? Vote in the poll above and leave your thoughts in the comments below.