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Keep garbage bags, recyclables out of green bins, Waste Check says

Amy Hillyard, waste reduction co-ordinator with Waste Check, reminds people that paper bags containing compostable material can go in the green cart, but things like plastic should be kept out of the cart.
Amy Hillyard, waste reduction co-ordinator with Waste Check, reminds people that paper bags containing compostable material can go in the green cart, but things like plastic should be kept out of the cart. - Eric Bourque

Concern over contaminated recyclables is what’s behind an effort to remind people that garbage bags and recycling bags should not be put in green carts for waste collection day.

While it’s understandable why people might want to put everything in their cart when they put it out for pickup, Amy Hillyard, waste reduction co-ordinator with Waste Check, says it can create problems because the recyclable material can become contaminated, depending on what’s in the cart.

If your waste material was not collected recently the way it normally is, this may have been the reason.

“We’re not the collectors, obviously,” Hillyard said, “but we meet with them and we try to make their lives easier when they’re out there and it’s a huge issue for them right now, especially in Yarmouth County.”

Waste Check has tried to get the word out before about the need to keep garbage and recyclables out of the green bins.

“We felt like we educated last year about it and now that it’s creeped up and it’s continuing, they just can’t take them,” she said.

Rejecting carts, unfortunately, she said, is sometimes what it takes to drive home the message and get people to do things differently.

She said it’s a small percentage of carts that are an issue, but it’s enough to create problems.

Waste Check understands why people perhaps want to put everything in their cart, she said, given that it prevents the bags from blowing around on a windy day, for example, but she said they can purchase a container at a local store to put garbage bags and recycling bags in.

Green carts can be rejected for other reasons too, Hillyard said. She noted, for instance, that people might put vegetables that have gone bad in their bin without first removing the plastic packaging they came in.

It was an apt example, given that Hillyard was interviewed during Waste Reduction Week (Oct. 15-21) and that the focus for Waste Check during this year’s campaign was on reducing food waste and encouraging people to think environmentally when buying groceries.

“’Put some thought in how you shop’ is the kind of thing we’re doing right now or the promotion we’re doing,” Hillyard said. “There’s definitely lots of tips that we could use to be less wasteful in different parts of our life.”

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