Aug 17, 2021

Recycling audits find high levels of soft plastics causing contamination

The Town of Ladysmith completed two informal curbside audits this summer and found in both cases that soft plastics contributed to the majority of contamination in the recycling stream.

Contaminated recycling refers to items such as plastic bags or wrappings, improperly rinsed containers, and multi-layered packaging such as chip bags, or granola bar wrappers that are being disposed of in curbside collection.

The overall efficiency of the recycling system is significantly disrupted when these items are present.  Even a truckload that includes 15-20% contamination can result in all of the materials being transported to the landfill, rather than being recycled.

The Town completed the recycling audits to gain a better understanding of which items are causing contamination locally as we work toward ongoing strategies for improving our overall sustainability.

During the recycling audits, we visited 70 houses along five collection routes. Contamination was significantly higher in the first round of audits when 557 contaminants were recovered.

For the most recent set of audits, 250 contaminants were found in curbside recycling.

Overall, soft plastics were the biggest source of contamination, followed by improperly rinsed containers.

Soft plastics are accepted at the Peerless Road Recycling Centre free of charge. These include grocery and dry cleaning bags, produce bulk food and frozen vegetable bags, outer wraps and bags for hygiene products, and overwrap for furniture and electronics.

Additionally, the Junction Bottle Depot on Oyster Bay Drive accepts chip bags, snack bar wrappers or crinkly cellophane wrap.

Please remember you can ensure your container recycling ends up in the right place by rinsing it first to remove food waste.  Organics left on containers can spread to other items in your bin or the collection truck increasing the overall rate of contamination.

The audits took place during the weeks of June 30-July 7 and July 29-August 5 and were completed by the Town’s Sustainability Ambassadors.

For more information on garbage, recycling, and organics collection in the Town of Ladysmith, visit:

Audits 1
Audits 2