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Spaghetti dinners and bowling balls: the weird things ending up in Winnipeg recycling bins

All sorts of items that can't be recycled are ending up in blue bins in Winnipeg – things like an entire spaghetti dinner or a bowling ball. It’s a problem the city hopes will stop soon.

Winnipeg resident Owen is careful with every item he drops in his recycling bin.

"You can put in a plastic bottle, but don't leave water in it or liquid in it. Empty it out. Just follow the instructions," he said.

But it seems some Winnipeggers are having a bit of difficulty following the city's recycling guidelines.

At the City of Winnipeg's recycling plant, there is 49,000 metric tonnes of material processed each year. But a percentage of the stuff arriving at the plant shouldn't be.

"We do deal with a bit of contamination, which is items that are not acceptable within our program," said Mark Kinsley, the superintendent of waste diversion at the City of Winnipeg.

Those unacceptable items include a lot of things you might expect - plastic bags, Styrofoam, disposable coffee cups and foil takeout containers.

"So we're always encouraging people to get knowledgeable, get educated with the acceptable list in Winnipeg," Kinsley said.

People shouldn't need any education to know that items like tires, bowling balls, and pizzas aren't supposed to be recycled, but all of these items have been thrown in blue boxes.

"Finish the pizza, and then recycle your box," Kinsley said.

He said in 2019, as many as 4,000 dirty diapers were arriving at the recycling depot each week.

Today, that number has dropped significantly. It is down to about 500 a week on average.

"It's still up there because even one's too much," Kinsley said.

Owen believes, in order to reduce those numbers even further, one thing is critical.

"I guess it's education, education, education," he said.

The city has a full list of what you can and can't recycle on its website Top Stories


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