Terrible things happen when you put non-recyclable items in the blue bin. It can cause damage to equipment, lead to workplace injuries at the recycling plant, and ruin perfectly good recyclables. The city of Toronto says contaminated recycling is costing it millions and over 50,000 tonnes of non-recyclable items are incorrectly put in blue bins each year. So, what should and should not be put in the blue disposal bin at the workplace?

The Do’s

Coffee cup lids: Although you should not put a disposable coffee cut in the blue bin, the coffee cup lid is made of 100% recyclable plastic.

Office papers: Normal office papers, including magazines to newspapers, are 100% recyclable. You should, however, shred office papers to avoid being a victim of dumpster divers.

Old laptops and computers: Whereas laptops and computers can be recycled at a designated e-waste facility or a local office supplies store, you should not place them in the blue bin. Laptop and computer recycling involves mostly manual reclamation of plastics and metals. The recycled material is used for everything from coins to irrigation piping.

Plastic food containers: These can be recycled, but you should, however, first discard all the remaining food. The food scraps should go into the green bin.

The Don’ts

Disposable coffee cups: Coffee cups seem to be made of recyclable cardboard and are one of the biggest culprits of wrongful placement in blue bins. These cups have a thin layer of plastic or wax, making then non-recyclable. A better solution is for people to use a reusable mug.

Electrical cords, VHS tapes, chains, and hoses: These items should not be recycled because they can get tangled in the sorting machine, damaging them or causing injuries.

Black plastics: Despite popular belief, black plastics such as those used in black garbage bags and take-out containers cannot be recycled.

Wet office papers: Wet office papers, magazines, and newspapers easily break down. This makes them non-viable recycling materials.

Heavily-dyed paper: Do not place the heavily-dyed paper into the blue bin because the colour can bleed onto the other recyclables at the plant. Pastels are, however, okay.

Printer toner cartridge: It is okay to recycle printer toner cartridges at the local office supplies shop for refilling and reuse, but you should not put them in the blue bin. Refilling could save you on office expenses.

Pizza boxes: Despite popular belief, pizza boxes are not to be recycled. While pizza boxes are made entirely of cardboard, the food scraps and oils that remain inside can cause reduce the ability of fibers to bind during recycling.

Napkins and paper towels: Just like with pizza boxes, napkins and paper towels are non-recyclable because of the food scraps and oils that remain.

Clothing and textiles: Shoes, old clothes, curtains, and blankets should not go into the blue bin. This is because they can damage the sorting machine or cause injuries when they get caught. A better idea is to donate them to charity if they are still in a good condition and to put those in a bad condition in the garbage.