Recycling right and reducing single-use plastics: Event Recap and Resources

On July 15th, the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) hosted an online learning event for residents of buildings participating in the Zero Waste High Rise Project. The event focused on reducing single-use plastics and how to recycle right. Here is a full recap of the event broken into different sections.

Recycling Right and Reducing Single-use Plastics

Watch below for an overview of the project:

In the Zero Waste High Rise project, TEA helps buildings to increase proper sorting of recycling, and reduce overall waste, through education and improved access to recycling collection. 

By doing so, buildings can see a reduction in their waste bills, have less litter in their community, and save staff time for other cleaning and maintenance needs.  

Read on to learn how high-rise buildings in Toronto are tackling the recycling challenge, and read answers to questions we frequently get from residents. We’ve included links to a recording of the online learning event TEA hosted on July 15, 2020 for more information. 

Applying the 3Rs to High-Rises

Watch below for the ‘Zero Waste and 3Rs’ section of our online learning event and learn more: 

Zero Waste is about creating systems built on the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - also known as a Circular Economy. In high-rise buildings, this means:

  • Easier ways to rent and share goods within the community - i.e. a building’s tool library reduces the need for each household to buy individual tools
  • Allow for reusable alternatives to disposables - i.e. encouraging people to bring their own reusable water bottles and mugs for gatherings like board meetings
  • More convenient ways to sort and collect recycling - i.e. having the option to recycle wherever there is an option to put waste in garbage

Why are sorting rules for recycling different at work and at home?

Watch below for the ‘How Toronto’s Recycling System Works’ section of our online learning event and learn more: 

The Provincial government mandates that municipalities are responsible for residential waste collection, while the ICI (industrial, commercial and institutional) sector is responsible for its own waste management. This produces different sorting rules depending on who collects the waste:

  • Cities like Toronto picks up recycling - along with garbage and organics from all single-family homes, and most multi-residential buildings
  • Multi-residential buildings are technically part of the ICI sector, so they can choose between City waste collection or private waste collection
  • City of Toronto accepts a wider range of materials for recycling than private waste collection - for example plastic bags are accepted in the City’s recycling program

What are high-rise buildings with great recycling programs doing differently? 

Watch below for the ‘Lessons from High-Rise Buildings with Great Recycling Rates’ section of our online learning event and learn more: 

High-rise buildings with high recycling rates have a number of things in common, that any building can replicate:

  • Invite routine conversations between staff, management, and residents about reducing waste
  • Provide enough bins and space to collect the total recycling produced by the building, and ensure that the bins are convenient to access
  • Present clear signage and education about sorting rules
  • Celebrate zero waste successes as a community to make it visible that everyone cares

How can we reduce the problem of single-use plastics?

Watch below for the ‘Tips for Reducing Plastic Waste’ section of our online learning event and learn more:

The convenience that plastics provide can be essential in many situations, but many are unnecessary and can be avoided. In order to help reduce single-use plastics in our communities, we recommend: 

  • Don’t get bogged down with guilt - the single-use plastics all around us are not the fault of consumers
  • Choose one type of plastic packaging / product category at a time to reduce
  • Organize neighbourhood clean-ups or conduct your own during walks and hikes
  • Talk to your local businesses and local representatives about accelerating the shift away from single-use plastics
  • Sign-up for email updates from TEA to learn about the best opportunities for engaging your local representatives on this issue 

There are many ways that high-rise buildings are applying the 3Rs to reduce the amount of garbage they send to the landfill, save money, and build community by learning and working together towards zero waste. Sign up for email updates about the Zero Waste High Rise project to get all the amazing success stories and resources that can help you reduce waste in your building.

Watch below for the Q&A section of our online learning event: 

Event Recording and Resources:

Watch the recording of the full session here:

On July 15, 2020, Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) hosted an online learning event for residents of buildings participating in the Zero Waste High Rise Project. Waste experts from Toronto Environmental Alliance were joined by high-rise residents from across the city to discuss improving recycling programs, increasing recycling rates, and reducing single-use plastics.