Half of Windsorites 'contaminate' blue boxes, collectors say

One of the busiest recycling weeks of the year is upon Windsor.

Thousands of Windsor residents are cleaning up and clearing out after Christmas.

Edna Towne is putting out more recyclables this week than usual. But that's because she's moving. She said Windsor's recycling system is easy to follow:

"I simply read the instructions. It's very simple if you read them carefully," she said.

However, some recycling collectors who ride the trucks on a daily basis told CBC News others in Windsor are making mistakes, some of them potentially dangerous.

Red recycling bins are designated for paper and cardboard. The blue bins are to be used for glass, plastic and metals.

Collectors said approximately 50 per cent of people mix items in the blue and red bins.

Collectors said that when people mix glass with paper, its not ideal - even dangerous. The glass can burst in their faces when the trucks compact the paper products. Or, jars and bottles can roll out into the street.

Meanwhile, the manager of the city's environmental services said 10 per cent of people mix their recyclables.

"I think our participation is excellent," said Anne Marie Albidone. "We get a lot of people recycling, our recycling tonnages have increased over time, and I think people are making an honest effort to put the recycling out as much as they can.

She said if the two types of recyclables are mixed minimally, the collectors will sort it on the spot.

"We do get contamination from time to time try to handle those at the curb side as much as possible," Albidone said. "There's always the odd thing here and there. I wouldn't consider it too much contamination.

If the mixing is really bad, the collectors simply won't take the recyclables. Instead, a supervisor will come to the house to show the homeowner the proper way to sort the waste.

Windsor's recycling plant will also take care of some minimal sorting.

Albidone said Styrofoam can never be recycled. It must always go in the garbage.

Even though Albidone said it would be more convenient to use just one box, the city also said there are no plans to move to a single-box recycling system. The city said it would be too costly.

With Windsor being as culturally diverse as it is, new Canadians sometimes struggle with recycling.

"They want to recycle. They've put it out there [at the curb]. They don't want it to go to the landfill, they actually do want to recycle it," Albidone said. "So the best way for us is to get them to do that is just take a couple of minutes of their time and talk to them and explain to them which item goes in which box."

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