The city of Toronto launched the Recycle Right informational campaign in early June 2016 to remind residents what items could not be recycled. Coffee cups especially have been subject to confusion, according to an article by CBC News.
The city said an estimated 45,000 metric tons of garbage was accidentally deposited into recycling bins last year. This includes takeout coffee cups, which are lined with nonrecyclable plastic or wax. Roughly 1.5 billion disposable cups were used by Canadians in 2010, the article says.
“Millions of cups are used in Toronto every year, and people are taking these out and putting them in the wrong bin,” Emily Alfred, senior campaigner with the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said in an interview with CBC’s Metro Morning. “It’s actually symbolic of a bigger problem that waste is really confusing.”
Alfred added that coffee cups compromise the integrity of the city’s recycling system.
“They can’t separate the plastic and paper in a typical paper recycling facility,” she told CBC. “So it just caused contamination of the recycling stream, and it causes lower-quality paper if it does get recycled.”