Guest Blogger: Geneviève Nolet, Solid Waste Services

Guest Blogger: Geneviève Nolet, Solid Waste Services

What is wish-cycling?

Wish-cycling is placing non-recyclable items in the recycling bins in the hopes that somehow they can be recycled. It is usually done with good intentions; wanting to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. However, wish-cycling can cause the opposite outcome, as it can lead to whole truckloads of recyclable materials being sent to landfills.

In the recycling markets, there needs to be a business willing to purchase and repurpose a material for it to be recycled. In Kingston, the recyclables are picked up at the curb, sorted and baled at the Kingston Area Recycling Centre (KARC), and finally sold to recycling processors or end markets that will make new items from the recyclables. If no market exists for a material, it cannot be recycled, even if people “wish” it would be.

Wish-Cycling Blog Photo 1.jpg

Why is it so important that only acceptable items end up in the recycling bin? Companies who purchase the materials do not want – and often will refuse to accept – bales of recycling containing non-recyclable products (contaminants). If a bale contains too many contaminants, the recyclable material can receive a quality downgrade which can significantly decrease the value of the materials or it will be rejected completely. Rejected materials will either need to be re-sorted at very high costs or more than likely it will end up landfilled.

The City of Kingston works hard to prevent contamination in the bales of recycling that are shipped form KARC, but as more new and more complex packaging products come onto the market, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort these products efficiently and effectively.  Once you add in wish-cycled materials to the mix, the number of products slipping past our recycling sorters can only increase. It is extremely important that non-recyclable, wish-cycled items are not added to the recycling stream, as they increase the complexity of sorting. The more complex the mix of materials received at KARC, the more difficult it is to keep the outgoing materials clean of contaminants.

Some of the items that are commonly misplaced in the recycling bin in Kingston include: bubble wrap, stand up pouches (think frozen fruit bags), non-stretchy bags (such as chip and cookie bags), coloured Styrofoam and wrapping paper.

The City has a solution to wish-cycling.

Search items on the Waste Sorting Lookup tool if you are unsure whether they are recyclable or not. It is available both on the “Kingston Waste” app and online at CityofKingston.ca/WasteLookup. This super useful tool will tell you how to dispose of those pesky items you just don’t know what to do with. If an item is not currently on the Lookup tool, please send your suggestion and we will add it to our database. If you are looking to dispose of these items, many other people likely are too.

Image 1: Online version of the waste lookup tool. Enter your item in the search bar to see where it goes.

Image 1: Online version of the waste lookup tool. Enter your item in the search bar to see where it goes.

Image 2: Can’t find your item on the look up tool? Try using a generic or simpler name for your product, like ‘Battery’ versus “Energizer battery” and if you still can’t find it, please suggest that we add it.

Image 2: Can’t find your item on the look up tool? Try using a generic or simpler name for your product, like ‘Battery’ versus “Energizer battery” and if you still can’t find it, please suggest that we add it.

Avoiding Single-Use Plastics for the Summer: My Experience

Written by Tess Wittmann

Written by Tess Wittmann

At Sustainable Kingston, we are challenging the community to reduce their use of single-use plastics for the summer. Naturally, I also decided to take the challenge.

Let me be the first to say, it is hard. Very hard.

Some days I felt extremely optimistic. I would bring all my reusable items with me like my travel mug, water bottle, travel cutlery, and straw, and I would be extremely successful at avoiding single-use plastic. I would be so excited and proud when I opted against the plastic and pulled out my reusable items.

Some days, even when I had my reusables on me, I couldn’t avoid the plastics. My drink came with a straw already in it, I was given plastic cutlery before I was able to pipe in that I had my own, or my container was not big enough to fit my leftovers and had to grab a takeout container anyway.

Some days I just forgot to bring anything at all and was in a position to either accept the plastic or not get anything. This whole challenge made me realize that plastic is EVERYWHERE.

It is difficult to avoid single-use plastic, but it is all about trying our best, instilling these habits, and continuing to try even if some days aren’t as perfect as others.

The SK Team with reusable travel mugs

The SK Team with reusable travel mugs

I felt especially inspired when I saw what other people were doing. It made it feel more like a group effort instead of me tackling this large issue alone.

Examples of people’s single-use swaps I saw online include:

  • Bamboo items like toothbrushes and cutlery

  • Diva Cup

  • Bringing cups and straws with you

  • Beeswax wraps

  • Reusable snack bags

  • Cloth bags for produce

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Soda Stream

  • Safety Razor

  • Reusing glass containers

And the list goes on!

The challenge is meant to encourage us to be more aware of single-use plastic, and to be more cognizant of our own actions. Although the challenge is coming to an end soon, let’s try our best to continue these habits for the rest of the year, share the knowledge, and encourage each other!

New federal incentives will help small- and medium-sized businesses take needed climate action and improve bottom lines

Written by Tess Wittmann

Written by Tess Wittmann

Small and medium business owners in Ontario have a tight timeline of opportunity to receive federal funding to improve the sustainability of operations and their bottom lines. 

The Government of Canada’s newly launched Climate Action Incentive Fund: Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Project stream, covers new sustainability projects undertaken by businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Eligible projects range from retrofitting a fleet of trucks to use biodiesel, to purchasing energy-efficient industrial equipment upgrades, to adding solar and insulation to an office building. There is $72.4 million is earmarked for Ontario.

Applications for funding are open until October 15, 2019, or until funding is exhausted.

Eligible projects include:

  • Switches to low emitting fuels in buildings, agriculture, industry, and transportation

  • Building and vehicle retrofits that save energy by improving efficiency or reducing waste

  • Improvements to the energy efficiency of industrial and agricultural processes

  • Low emission fuel production or renewable energy production for own use

The Climate Action Incentive Fund will provide $20,000 - $250,000 to offset up to 25% of the cost of qualifying projects in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. This first-come, first-served opportunity gives owners of small- and medium-sized businesses a unique chance to get paid to save money for their businesses while doing the right thing for our environment.

For businesses who want to take advantage of the opportunity to go green but don’t know how to get started, contact Kristin Mullin, Executive Director, Sustainable Kingston at 613-544-2075 ext 1 or by email at kristin@sustainablekingston.com

Sustainable Kingston is one of seven non-profit Green Economy Hubs across Ontario that support businesses with reducing their greenhouse gas emissions while becoming more economically competitive. Hubs provide tools, guidance, and a network of businesses to learn from so that any organization can take action on climate change and seize the business benefits of going green.

Green Economy Canada, in cooperation with Sustainable Kingston, are running webinars to give Green Economy Program Leaders a chance to learn about this incentive by walking through project details and the application process. Want to receive resources like this? Join the program!