More variety in ‘blue boxes’ starts Monday

Residents longing for the days when Fort Frances was part of the now-defunct Northwest Ontario Recycle Association program will rejoice next week when the town will start accepting an expanded list of materials in “blue boxes.”
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said Friday morning that as of Monday, residents can put the following in their “blue boxes” for curbside pickup:
•pop/beer cases;
•cereal boxes;
•egg cartons (paper, not styrofoam);
•milk cartons;
•juice boxes (tetrapaks);
•tissue paper; and
•plastics #3-6 (look on the bottom of the container to see what number plastic the container is).
Brown noted while plastics containers such as shampoo bottles and deodorant sticks will be acceptable, those containing paint or motor oil, for instance, only can be disposed during the annual Household Hazardous Waste Day held each May (this also is true of items like propane bottles and aerosol cans).
Plastic bags (such as those from grocery stores), cellophane, and plastic packing materials also are not acceptable, he added.
As in the past, the town also will accept the following recyclables for “blue box” pickup: paper bags, newsprint, office paper, magazines, corrugated cardboard (cut to 16” x 24” max.), #1 and #2 plastics, clean aluminum/steel beverage cans, and clean metal food cans (rinse and remove labels).
Brown said it would be appreciated if residents could crush all containers (plastic, paper, metal) before putting them in their “blue boxes” as this will take up less space when they’re transported (not to mention taking up less space in the “blue box” so the resident can put more in it).
He added people should remove screw caps from paper containers, such as orange juice cartons, because these contaminate the “stream.” Recyclables are sorted into two streams—fibre (paper products) and containers (plastics and metals).
Glass recyclables still can be dropped off in the large blue bins on Wright Avenue North by the Public Works building.
Brown said the decision to begin the expanded recycling program Monday came late last night as the final details fell into place.
Having decided not to sign a contract with the Koochiching County recycling plant across the river, which would have meant a cost increase from $2,600 per month to $9,700, the town now will ship some of its recyclables to Winnipeg and others to a different location in International Falls.
Local resident Ken Linton brought to Brown’s attention last week that the town could bring its paper and cardboard to International Bildrite across the border, which manufactures fibreboard.
This would cost the town nothing except the cost of transportation, and would greatly reduce the frequency of loads of recyclables that have to be shipped to the Metro Recovery Inc. plant in Winnipeg—thus saving the town more money.
Paper and cardboard accounts for 90 percent of the weight in a load of recyclables, noted Brown. Therefore, it would take that much longer to get a full trailer-load before having to ship it off to Winnipeg, where Metro will accept and process the recyclables for free.
Arrangements already have been made with George Armstrong Co. Ltd. here to rent a building to deposit recyclables in until there’s enough for a full load to be transported to the appropriate location.
Brown said he hoped this is what residents wanted, as many people voiced concerns back in May that the town introduced “bag tags” with the intention to encourage recycling, but restrained them with limited options for acceptable recyclables.
“All we wanted to do was create more options. And we’re back to the NORA days now,” Brown remarked. “We found a solution where we’re getting back to boxboard, more plastics—everything people have been waiting to recycle again.”
He added “bag tags” indeed have gotten people to recycle more, noting the town has seen a 60 percent increase in recyclables over last year while also seeing less garbage going to the landfill site.