Christmas and the holidays are notorious for creating a lot of waste. There’s wrapping paper, boxes, food scraps, bacon grease and, with COVID-19, masks and gloves.
The city of London spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year managing our waste. Those in charge hope the public will pitch in and make it easier and less expensive on city coffers.
The naughty and nice list for recycling
Londoners are pretty good at recycling, especially over the holidays.
“At this time of year and shortly after the holidays are over, recycling quantities actually double,” said Jay Stanford, Director of Climate Change, Environment and Waste Management for the City of London.
“We’re always pleased because the more recycling, the better.”
But, there are mistakes that are made every year when it comes to what can and can’t be placed in a blue box.
Wrapping paper is a definite no-no, according to Stanford.
“Wrapping paper contains dyes and coatings and sometimes glitter and foil, and there’s metallic paper and cellophane, it’s almost like no two papers are alike, so we have to say no to all of them.”
Other non-recyclables include plastic toys, clementine boxes (the wood is not recyclable), ribbons, bows, decorations, artificial trees and soiled paper plates, napkins and towels.
Plastic bags are another problem for the city’s recycling system because they can get wound up in the spinning parts of the process resulting in the equipment being shut down. Instead, the city recommends taking bags to a retail store with a take-back program as a way to keep them out of the landfill.
Trees don’t go to the curb
The city no longer has curbside pick-up of real Christmas trees. That program was stopped two years ago, according to Stanford.
There are two options to dispose of your tree: take it to a City of London EnviroDepot or hold onto it until springtime.
“Our yard waste collection program starts in the middle of March,” said Stanford. “If you can, put it outside for a bird habitat over the cold winter months.”
Preventing those problematic fatbergs
What is a fatberg, you might be asking?
“It’s a smelly mass of things like bacon grease and oils that get dumped down the drain,” explained Barry Orr, Sewer Outreach Control Inspector.
“They get mixed with other non-flushable objects like wipes, masks, dental floss, gloves and all these gross things and turn into huge dams, or as they’re called, fatbergs.”
Fatbergs can stop wastewater flow to the sewer system and cause basement flooding.
“The toilet is not a garbage can. It’s only for human waste and toilet paper,” said Orr. “And, residents can use free FOG cups which allow for the safe disposal of fats, oils and grease.”
The cups are available at public libraries and the city’s EnviroDepots. That’s where they can also be dropped off once they’re full.
“The FOG materials will be used to generate green energy,” said Orr.
That’s just the kind of Christmas aftermath the city is hoping for.
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