Black plastic can't be recycled, for a reason most don't know

The colour of your plastic matters! Many peeople don't realize that black plastic cannot be recycled.

Online food orders have skyrocketed in recent years, and chances are, some of your delivered goods are coming in black containers.

You may think you're doing the environmentally-friendly thing of tossing into the blue bin after you're done, but But Canadian environmental experts say that's not where it belongs.

The reason: Black plastic cannot be recycled.

“The reason is that the machine that sorts the recycling is looking at the plastics on a conveyor belt, and it cannot tell the difference between a black plastic and the black conveyor belt itself,” says Keith Brooks of Environmental Defence.

If you have been recycling black plastic, chances are it’s ending up in a landfill or incinerated.

UGC: Black plastic food packaging - Rachel Schoutsen

As I continued to investigate what people should do with black plastic, many companies responded with, “just check with your local municipality to see if they can recycle it.”

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While currently there is no overnight fix, a recycling revamp looks to be on the agenda.

“We are taking action to improve the recycling across the province of Ontario”, said Gary Wheeler spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “There are plans to transition the blue box program by 2023,” he adds.

The new approach will provide people with an easy to follow list of materials that can be recycled. Their hopes are to make recycling more understandable for people in Ontario.

This new method will also hold manufacturers responsible. The hope is that producers will think about their products' life cycle. By doing this, companies can choose better materials in order to achieve less waste.

“The province of Ontario is also working with other provinces, territories and the federal government on measures to support a consistent approach to the recycling of plastics across Canada.”

This new blue box approach sounds like it could better educate Canadians as to what should go in the recycling. While education is power, the main source of the black plastic issue is with manufacturers who continue to produce it.

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What should you do with your black plastic right now?

The answer varies. However, right now, it is best to throw it in the garbage.

If you are confused as to where your waste should go an online tool like Waste Wizard may help.

Watch the video above for the full report.


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