Whether it's the outcome of wishful thinking or just pure laziness, Torontonians won't stop throwing their coffee cups into recycling bins and it's causing massive problems for Toronto's recycling processing facilities.
Despite "no coffee cup" signs plastered over receptacles all over Toronto, it would seem that many hot beverage consumers aren't even aware that cups can't be thrown into the blue bin. If you're guilty of making this mistake, you aren't alone - according to the City of Toronto, coffee cups are one of six "top blue bin offenders."
Let's set the record straight: while certain components of a coffee cup can be recycled, like some lids or cardboard sleeves, the cups themselves cannot. That's because the cups are lined with a special plastic. Conventional recycling facilities nor paper mills are able to sort these products, as the lining "does not pulp" and may cause clogging.
Consumers claim that their confusion stems from the recycling symbol on the lid of their cups. They explain that the symbol misleadingly makes the whole item seem as though it should be placed in the blue bin.
According to one Toronto coffee drinker, "You’ve got the symbol right there saying it’s recyclable, so you assume the whole thing is."
General Manager of Solid Waste Services, Matt Keliher, told CTV News, "Every material that is recyclable has to have someone who wants to purchase it or it’s not recyclable."
City officials also explained that no third-party recycling service is willing to accept the plastic-lined paper cups used by countless coffee shops around the city.
Waste audits conducted in 2015 revealed that an estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage had been inappropriately thrown into the recycling. Not only can this garbage cause serious damage to waste processing equipment, but it can also cause injuries at recycling facilities and wreck other recyclables.
"No coffee cup" signs are now being posted directly on recycling bins to clarify any confusion that people may still have. City officials are also encouraging the use of reusable travel mugs to minimize the volume of coffee cups that end up in the trash.
But coffee cups aren't the only culprit. According to CTV News, other "top blue bin offenders" include food and organic waste, containers with leftover food inside of them, clothing and textiles, black plastics and electrical cords.
The city has also issued a warning about coffee pods that are used in Keurig machines - even those with the "recyclable" label must either be thrown out in the garbage or returned to their respective retailers.