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Recycling in Calgary - What does it become?

Recycling in Calgary

Learn more about what your items become.

Recyclables are a raw material just like oil, gas, coal and wood. They are all used to make new products we buy at the grocery store, at the mall and other retailers.

Your blue cart recyclables are an important part of building a sustainable circular economy that reuses materials.

On this page you can find information about:


Where your recyclables go after they are collected?

Recyclables from our recycling programs go to manufacturers and recyclers all over North America and around the world.

This is because the consumer goods we buy are made in locations all over Canada, United States and internationally. Next time you buy an item, look at the package to see what location it is from.

Did you know? The first step in the recycling process starts right here in Calgary! Your recyclables are first taken to the Cascades Recovery sorting facility in S.E. Calgary. See how the Calgary Recycling Facility Works
Recyclable material Where does it go?
Plastic jugs, bottles and food containers Canada
Metal food cans and foil Eastern Canada
Cardboard Canada
United States
Paper Eastern Canada
United States
Southeast Asia
Glass bottles and jars Western Canada

Why do recyclables get put into storage?

Because recyclables are commodities, prices for these materials fluctuate due to market supply and demand.

Putting recyclables into temporary storage when needed is common practice until prices rise or a new buyer is found and vetted.

For example, glass jars in 2010 and mixed paper (like envelopes and brochures) in 2018 were put in storage until markets improved.

Currently, we have recycling markets available for all of the items we collect in the Blue Cart program.


How the manufacturing process works

Recycling is part of the manufacturing process. Instead of using raw resources like trees to make a new notebook, you can take an existing item like an old flyer to turn it into a new paper product!

How does a piece of paper get turned into a new item?

  1. You put your old flyer into the blue cart.
  2. Your blue cart driver picks up your recyclables and takes them to the Cascades Recovery sorting facility in Calgary.
  3. The flyer and other mixed paper is separated out from the glass jars, tin cans and other recyclables.
  4. The flyer and other mixed paper are bundled into large bales (see picture) and loaded into a transport truck.
  5. The flyer and other mixed paper then goes to a paper mill processor.
  6. The paper may get further sorted if their manufacturing process requires a certain mix. It will then get pulped into reusable paper fibres.
  7. This paper pulp goes to paper and packaging manufacturers in need of this material. For example, Cascades Recovery makes paper products like bathroom tissues, paper towel and cardboard boxes right here in Canada.

The role we all play in recycling

Recycling is a group effort and we all have a role to play when it comes to recycling. See how each group does their part to ensure that the recycling process is done the right way.


What do my recycling items become?

 

Mixed Paper - Cardboard and Paper

Examples:

Amazon boxes and delivery boxes, junk mail, magazines, envelopes, cereal boxes, newspapers.

What is it recycled into:

Newspaper, cardboard boxes, egg cartons, paper towel tubes and toilet paper tubes.


 

Plastic containers, and cups

Examples:

Laundry detergent jugs, peanut butter jars, shampoo bottles, dairy containers (yogurt, sour cream, margerine) and milk jugs.

What is it recycled into:

Carpet, fleece jackets, plastic pipes.


 

Tin cans and tin foil

Examples:

Tuna cans, tomato paste cans, bean cans, cookie tins, tin foil.

What is it recycled into:

Food cans, bicycle and machine parts, appliances (e.g. washer/dryer), sheet aluminum, steel pipes.


 

Glass food jars and bottles

Examples:

Baby food jars, jam jars, salsa jars, water bottles.

What is it recycled into:

Sand blasting abrasive (e.g. for removing paint).


 

Stretchy plastic bags and film wrap

Examples:

Plastic bags like grocery bags, ziploc bags, bread bags and cling wrap.

What is it recycled into:

Plastic lumber for park benches, outdoor patio furniture.