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Recycling FAQs

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What is Recycling?

Recycling is the concept of taking already used materials and then processing them into other materials to be reused. For example, the morning newspaper can be recycled for another morning’s newspaper or other paper based products.

Why should I recycle?

Recycling reduces our reliance on landfills, saves energy, conserves natural resources and reduces climate change impacts.

What materials can be recycled?

  • Refer to the What Goes Where web-app or download the Recycle Coach App to your Apple or Android smartphone to search all kinds of materials and learn whether they can or cannot be recycled.
  • Items accepted at the recycling drop-off depots in Medicine Hat include newspaper, mixed paper, cardboard, aluminum and tin, plastics and glass.
  • Please remember NOT to put glass in blue recycling carts.

What materials cannot be recycled at the depots?

  • Items NOT accepted at the drop-off depots include Styrofoam, organic (food and yard waste), garbage and household hazardous waste (HHW).
  • Dispose of Styrofoam, food waste garbage in your household garbage cart. Yard waste materials can be recycled when collected from your yard waste cart or when self-hauled to the Waste Management Facility.
  • HHW should be taken to the Waste Management Facility for proper disposal.

Where do all the materials go after they are put in the bins at the depots?

  • The recycle carts are collected by GFL and processed for shipping.
  • Paper may go to a de-inking facility and plastic to a buyer who cleans the plastic materials, makes them into pellets and then sells them to an end user who will use the plastic pellets for making everyday products.

What does this stuff get made into?

  • The variety of materials made of recycled content continues to increase dramatically on a daily basis. Today virtually any paper product may be made of recycled content fibers. If the product is made of a recycled material, it will be marked in some way to indicate "Made of Recycled Materials."
  • The lowest quality of paper products such as paperboard (cereal boxes), tissue and toilet paper almost always contains recycled content fibers. Practically all aluminum cans and almost all steel products contain recycled materials in their manufacture. An increasing number of materials made of recycled plastics are now available in the marketplace.
  • These include plastic lumber, parking stops, park benches, carpets, fiberfill, "fleece" coats, t-shirts, picnic tables and playground equipment. Old tires are being repurposed and turned into sidewalks. The list goes on…

Who makes money on recycling?

  • Today, recycling is a big business. Because so many different types of materials are recycled and must be separately sorted, baled and processed, there are significant costs involved in the process. The costs include collection, sorting, baling and transporting the materials to a broker or mill as well as the cost of processing the materials in such a manner as to make them reusable or convert them to a reusable form.
  • Each participant in the process is a business, government or not-for-profit organization and at the very least, costs of providing the service must be covered. The actual cost of collecting the materials does not fluctuate significantly from year to year. They are similar to other fixed costs such as the cost of collecting trash. However, the cost of processing the materials so they can be sold to brokers or mills for end use fluctuates significantly. These are driven by market conditions in the broader economy and often influenced by foreign markets.
  • There are times when the value of aluminum or newspaper more than offsets the cost of collecting, processing and shipping the materials to market. However, at other times the collection and processing costs outweigh the cost for which the goods can be sold at market.

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