Wrapping paper, tape, gift bags trashed not recycled

Canadians are estimated to throw away 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays

Canadians will send 100,000 elephants worth of wrapping paper to the dump this year and Christmas presents are a big culprit.

Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, estimates each Canadians tosses about 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays, 25 per cent more than the rest of the year, thanks to the purchases of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six millions rolls of tape.

Altogether, 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper and gift bags are thrown out each year.

Gift bags, tape and ribbon can’t be recycled. Some cities, like Toronto, will recycle plain paper gift wrap but anything with glitter or velvet or foil on it has to be plucked out.

City of Winnipeg Waste Diversion Supervisor Mark Kinsley says Winnipeg doesn’t accept any wrapping paper at all for recycling. Aside from the confusion it sows in residents who don’t know what is or isn’t safe to put in the blue bin, Kinsley says the dyes used on wrapping paper are too intense.

“It’s too inefficient and cost prohibitive to take the ink out,” said Kinsley.

Kinsley said the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a heavier week for garbage and recycling pick up. The city doesn’t need extra trucks or staff but they are often out on routes longer. Trucks fill up faster and have to head to the landfill to empty out more often.

Robert Orpin, director of solid waste management services for Toronto, said they notice an uptick in curbside waste this time of year but handle it without adding extra trucks or staff.

Like most cities, Toronto tries to educate people on what can and can’t be recycled but the recycling plants still have to include sorting systems where decrepit glittery wrapping paper can be separated from its more environmentally-friendly pure paper cousin.

“We have a contamination challenge here,” said Orpin.

Many cities have programs to compost or turn Christmas trees into wood chips, with curbside pick up or depots to drop them off. The hitch — cities have to remind people to make sure all the ornaments, tinsel and lights have been removed. If you put your tree in a garbage bag on the curb it’s going to go to the dump.

Statistics Canada shows in 2014 — the most recent year for which Canadian data is available — more than 25 million tonnes of waste ended up in Canadian landfills.

Garbage produced from residential sources climbed 18 per cent since 2002, while business and industrial sources declined three per cent.

In an environmental report card issued earlier this month, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development called Canada out for its low rates of recycling and composting and a penchant for tossing most of our waste into landfills.

In 2014, Canadians generated more than 700 kilograms of garbage per person, far higher than the 520 kilograms averaged by OECD nations. Japan, which has the best record among OECD nations, produces less than half that.

Alberta produces the most waste per person, at almost 1,000 kilograms per year. Nova Scotia produces the least at less than 400 kilograms per person.

The OECD blames Canada’s garbage habit on the low cost of landfills and the lack of significant financial incentives to recycle or compost.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The strip mall which includes 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road is the site of a proposed 23-storey development given preliminary discussion at White Rock’s Land Use and Planning Committee meeting Oct. 26. (File photo)
White Rock tower would need to provide amenities: council

A 23-storey proposal for uptown could include new city hall facilities

South Surrey’s Pacific Inn Resort – known locally as the Pink Palace – has been closed since 2018, but on Saturday will host a Overnight Paranormal Tour and Ghost Hunt. (Facebook photo)
South Surrey’s Pink Palace to host late-night Halloween ghost tour

Paranormal ghost hunt set for midnight to 4 a.m. Saturday at closed hotel

Ranil Prasad saw this poster near Surrey Central SkyTrain station on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. He said it expressed “some specific reference to white replacement theory.” (Photo: Ranil Prasad/@run_neil/Twitter)
Surrey man urges public to watch out for ‘white replacement theory’ posters

Ranil Prasad said he saw the messaging at a Surrey SkyTrain station

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

A group of Abbotsford secondary principals’s and vice-principals are at a retreat in Whistler this weekend. (Whistler.com photo)
Abbotsford principals attend retreat in Whistler despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Reported group of 20 did follow COVID-19 protocols during Whistler Pro-D event, says school district

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Most Read