3B. OCT 11 - Where is our waste?


Reduce, reuse, and recycle. This phrase is regularly heard in schools and homes, and yet few fully understand what it means. RECYCLE tends to be the action that sticks with people the most. But recycling is the last thing we should be doing, and we aren't even very good at it. 

Waste management happens at the municipal level. This creates a great deal of variation between cities on what can and cannot be recycled. The collection regulations are different for residences from business and schools. On top of that, not everything is recycled in the same way.

 In truth, there is a reason that REDUCE is the first word in the mantra. This is an important hierarchy of steps in order to reduce waste.

Why do you think recycle is the action that sticks the most in people‚Äôs mind? We are taught these words repeatedly, but the single word has had the most impact. 

Therefore, we are going to explore just what recycling means, and how little most people understand it. A little knowledge goes a long way.

"If everybody took the initiative to make that effort and educate themselves in each individual instance where they were uncertain, it would definitely improve the quality of the product we're seeing here," - Michael Robertson,  materials recovery facility contract manager for the City of Edmonton


Attached to this activity is a Plastic Recycling Cheat Sheet, courtesy of GreenLivingTips.com. 

 ACTIVITY: Recycling Policies

1) Split your group in half. Half of the group should fill out the form based on the residential recycling policies, and the other half will fill it out based on the recycling policies of their school building.

Each province has some form of a Recycling Council, which will have useful information to help you find the answers. There are also numerous resources to be found on the Government of Canada website.

When in doubt, call the providers. Logos for the waste collection companies are often posted on the side of the dumpsters. Check the dumpsters at your school and find out which company collects your waste. Your local municipality should have information on who collects in your region, and they will be able to tell you specifically what can be picked up curbside.

Here are some links to help you get started:

2) Fill in the chart based on your location (residential or industrial).

  • Identify which numbers can be recylced curb-side and which have to be taken to the depot. 

    3) Discuss with your group the differences you found between residential recycling and business/industrial recycling. 

    • Why do you think these differences and restrictions exist? 
    • What surprised you the most in your exploration of recycling? 
    • Why do you think the infrastructure has divided in such a way? 
    • Were there any items you identified that you have been recycling wrong? 

    In a discussion post, submit a question you still have about recycling and its policies. These questions will be addressed in our next meeting. Comment on 2 other discussion posts with your possible answers to these questions based on what you discovered about recycling in your province. 

    Discussion posts and comments you post are what will be used in the final paper! Be are clear, respectful and engaged in your responses as well as while commenting on others. Don't forget to ask questions!

    Continue to 4A: OCT 18 - Down the Drain Challenge »

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