Although we don’t always do it perfectly, recycling has become a well entrenched part of our daily lives. Some items that are not accepted in your curbside collection should not, however, end up on a landfill site either. Many organizations recycle items to give them a second lease of life or to manage them responsibly.
Batteries don’t go in the recycling bin, but they are even less welcome on a landfill site! However, they can be disposed of at marked drop-off points provided by companies, stores and certain organizations.
Why is it important to recycle batteries?
Batteries may contain metals such as lead and mercury that are potentially harmful to the environment. When they are recycled, these metals can be used to make new products.
In Quebec, 94% of batteries end up in landfill, representing close to 4,000 tonnes of heavy metals each year. This needs to change!
- Écocentres: Écocentres accept batteries. Identify the one closest to you and find out more about recycling batteries!
- Call2Recycle: This organization has created the largest battery recycling program in Canada and the U.S. It also recycles cell phones in Canada.
CDs and DVDs
CDs and DVDs are not currently accepted in curbside collection. But there are options if you want to get rid of them!
If they are still good (we mean the CDs rather than the artists!), give them a second lease of life. Donate them to the Salvation Army, Renaissance or another community organization that collect items.
If they contain outdated information, are scratched or just have to go, here are a few sites you may find helpful:
- Ecosys Canada Inc.
- Exxel Polymers
- Targray Technology International Inc.
- Arteau Récupération Ltée
- Best Buy (They have collection points in their stores.)
Although not welcome in your recycling bin, corks are 100% recyclable. Their completely natural fibres can be used to make insulation or decorative objects.
Found mainly in France, Spain and Portugal, plantations of cork oak trees—whose bark has long been used to seal wine bottles—create unique ecosystems for rare plants and animals while also helping to slow down desertification.
Finding a balance between selling cork and preserving cork oak forests helps to ensure sustainable development of this ecosystem, and recycling is a major contributor. This has the added advantage of not releasing the CO2 contained in the cork while it remains on the tree.
How do you recycle cork?
To recycle cork properly, you need to bring it to a collection point. It will then be sent to a company to reuse in making various products:
- All Vinexpert affiliated stores (Quebec’s Eastern Townships region)
- La Piazzeta restaurants (Quebec)
- La Maison de la Bière (Saint-Georges de Beauce, Quebec)
- Restaurants participating in the Put a Cork in It program (Vancouver)
- All Whole Food outlets (Canada and United States).
You can also enquire at local restaurants or specialized stores, as some may also do it. And feel free to use corks in your creative projects—you’ll find plenty of original and clever ideas in places like Pinterest.
Did you know?
Cork also represents the most environmentally friendly solution when it comes to sealing wine bottles—at least, that’s what Price Waterhouse Coopers concluded after analyzing the life cycles of cork, plastic and aluminum. The CO2 emissions generated by an aluminum bottle cap are 24 times greater than a cork; plastic generates 10 times more than cork.
This huge discrepancy is due in large part to the fact that a cork oak tree can have its bark stripped and harvested up to 16 times in its lifetime.
Recovery at work
At Cascades, we have installed a recycling station where employees can bring various items they want to recycle. We collect bread bag clips, aluminum cans, corks, bottle caps, pull tabs, compact fluorescent light bulbs, CDs and batteries. This is really handy for employees and we all think it’s great!
Why should I recycle?
You should avoid throwing away electronic equipment. This is because it contains heavy metals (gold or copper for example) and other chemical content such as lead, mercury and arsenic. These elements make them dangerous for waste management and landfills. Devices also contain plastic and glass, which can both be used to make new products. It is possible to recycle these time bombs in a secure and sustainable way. But first of all ask yourself whether your device still works. If it does, why not offer it to an acquaintance or to a charitable organization?
Where can I recycle?
EPRA-Québec is an association for recycling electronic products which has drop-off points all around Québec. At these drop-off points you can bring your electronic equipment along free of charge. If there is not an EPRA facility in your area, some retailers offer drop-off points in their stores. Although most participating retailers accept all products, regardless of what they sell, the drop-off points at these locations can be restricted, particularly in terms of space. Therefore, you should find out about any restrictions for the relevant retailer. EPRA does not collect products, except for during special collection events, which are listed on the website.
What happens next?
Once your electronic devices are received, they are sent to a specialized recycling facility where they are dismantled and the various components are sorted and handled in a way that is both safe and environmentally friendly. Plastic and glass are sent to other facilities where they are reused and reintegrated into the production chain.
Compact fluorescent lamps and fluorescent tubes
In Quebec, recycling of compact fluorescent lamps and fluorescent tubes is managed by the non-profit RecycFluo program. To cover the costs associated with recycling, a small charge is added to the retail price of all light bulbs in this category. Therefore, when consumers buy products for residential use, they can expect to pay between 20 ¢ and 1,10 $ more per unit.
Compact fluorescent lamps and fluorescent tubes use mercury to produce light—a substance that can have harmful effects on the environment. By recycling, you make sure that the mercury doesn’t end up in nature and recyclable materials avoid the landfill site. In fact, by diverting these products to the RecycFluo program, 98% of the materials are recycled!
While the use of mercury may seem worrying, keep in mind that compact fluorescent lamps and fluorescent tubes remain a much more environmentally friendly option than incandescent light bulbs. They consume less electricity and last ten times longer.
How do you recycle light bulbs?
There are over 800 registered collection sites in Quebec where you can drop off your light bulbs.