Squeeze tube recycling trial starts in Coquitlam

Recycle BC studying whether recycling empty toothpaste and other squeeze tubes is feasible

Coquitlam residents who like to squeeze the last drop from their toothpaste tube will have another reason to do so besides thrift: a greener planet.

This month, Recycle BC is embarking on a quest to see if residents are willing to recycle these sorts of tubes and if they can get them clean enough for remanufacturing into new products, the first such initiative in North America.

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Together with More Recycling — an American consulting firm working with some heavyweight companies, including Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, and Johnson and Johnson — Recycle BC is trying to find out if recycling these tubes is practical and feasible.

“We’re hoping to find out if we can educate consumers to put these tubes in a bag and clean them out well enough to recycle them,” said Allen Langdon, managing director of Recycle BC. "If not, maybe there are some design changes needed for the packaging."

In the coming weeks, residents who receive city waste pickup will be receiving a pink bag for the collection of squeeze tubes typically used for face wash, moisturizer and toothpaste. They’ll be asked to rinse or squeeze out the tubes as best as they can and place the empty containers into the bag, seal it and drop it into their blue box for curbside pickup.

Coquitlam was chosen because Recycle BC handles the city’s recycling, it has a good-sized population and residents have shown a willingness to recycle, Langdon said.

The pilot program will continue until July 31, 2018, at which time the project will be analyzed to determine if the residue remaining in the collected tubes meets the threshold for a plastics processor.

Typically, containers should have no more than 5% to 10% residue or they will gum up the machinery used by companies that recycle plastic. If the tubes collected from Coquitlam residents contain too much residue, they won’t be acceptable for the recycling stream.

While related research and studies have been conducted in the United States to explore the feasibility of accepting plastic squeeze tubes for recycling, this is the first time residents are receiving specific direction to recycle plastic squeeze tubes and are provided with a special collection bag for curbside recycling.

• Visit recyclebc.ca/tubes for more information.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Coquitlam residents who receive curbside recycling services from Recycle BC will receive the pink bag directly at their home by mail in mid-May. Residents are being asked to:
• Recycle empty plastic squeeze tubes, with caps on, in the pink plastic bag provided.

• Seal the bag once its full, or by July 31, and place the pink bag in the blue box for collection.

• If residents don’t fill their bag with empty plastic squeeze tubes by July 31, they can still recycle any tubes collected by placing the sealed pink bag in their blue box at this time, regardless of how full it is.

• If residents fill their pink bag before July 31, they can request another bag to continue plastic squeeze tube collection and recycling until the end of July.

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