Solid Waste & Recycling

Feature

Toronto's "Info-Box" Program

Street recycling bins have long been considered ineffective because of the high level of contamination of the recyclables. Contamination occurs when non-recyclable waste such as food scraps and candy ...


Street recycling bins have long been considered ineffective because of the high level of contamination of the recyclables. Contamination occurs when non-recyclable waste such as food scraps and candy wrappers are put in recycling bins that only accept metal, glass or plastic beverage containers and/or paper products.

Contamination has left many municipalities with little choice but to discard recyclables, largely because the cost to separate them was prohibitive. But a new waste bin solves the contamination problem by offering separate but conveniently adjacent places to put recyclables and residue waste.

“Each bin has the capacity to collect quality recyclables equal to the amount recycled by the average Ontario single family household.”

Last November the City of Toronto launched a program to put these recycling bins within walking distance of everyone on city streets. Mayor Mel Lastman — who installed 3,500 recycling/garbage “Info-Box” bins this year — calls it “recycling on the go.” He initiated the program due to the positive results of a pilot study conducted last year in Toronto.

CSR: Corporations Supporting Recycling and its partners, the Canadian Soft Drink Association and Amcor Twinpak conducted the yearlong study to assess the volume and quality of recyclables captured in the new bins. The results show that each bin has the capacity to collect quality recyclables equal to the amount recycled by the average Ontario single family household (about 168 kg).

Unlike regular bins, the Info-Box has three compartments: one for beverage container recyclables, one for paper recyclables and a third for residue garbage. The design reflects the recycling rituals people are already used to for home and at work. According to CSR President Damian Bassett, more than two-thirds of the recyclables that previously went into regular garbage bins will now be recycled.

Manufactured and marketed by Toronto-based OMG Media, Info-Boxes earn revenue from advertising placed on the front and back of each bin. OMG sells the advertising space and shares the revenues with participating municipalities. Mayor Lastman reports that Toronto stands to earn about $10-million over the next 10 years.

CSR is working with other municipalities throughout Ontario, including St. Catharines and Guelph to develop public space recycling programs using the Info-Box bins in untapped locations such as universities, convenience stores and even car washes.

Geoff Rathbone is executive director of CSR: Corporations Supporting Recycling, based in Toronto, Ontario.

Summary of Capture Rates and Recovery

Capture Material
Material Category Rate Recovery
in Bins Kg/Bin/Year

Recyclable Containers

PET 73% 5.11
Aluminum 84% 8.79

Glass 78% 36.78

Ferrous 84% 3.34

HDPE 73% 1.51

Total containers 79% 55.54

Paper

Newspaper 82% 83.41
Cardboard/boxboard 70% 3.25
Other mixed paper 83% 21.58
Total recyclable paper 82% 108.24
Total recyclables 81% 163.78

Contaminant Levels

Compartment:

Contamination Container Paper
Recyclables Product

Recyclables placed in wrong

recycling compartment 5.8% 17.6%

Garbage placed in recycling

compartments 12% 6.1%

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