Beer bottles and term papers, Canadian style

I’m still thinking about the differences between Canada and the States. (The fact that I say “the States,” by the way, is an indicator that I’m back in Canada, where we rarely use the preferred U.S. term, “America.”) Just now I’m considering recycling. Am I wrong to be suspicious of the fact that in California people are not asked to divide their recycling, pitching it all instead into a single bin? Who divides it up? Does anyone? Is any of it actually recycled? My guess is it’s all making its way into the same landfill as the garbage by a different route.

One reason I think this is because of a conversation I had with the fellow who runs our local (California) recycling depot. I asked him if he took wine bottles and he said: “we won’t pay you for them, since there’s no deposit on them, but we will take them.” I couldn’t get any other information out of him and was left to wonder why anyone would bring wine bottles to the depot (for no money) when they could pitch them into their own bins (for no money). The only reason I could think of is because the contents of the bin end up in landfill.

No one else I know in California makes use of the depots. When I have parties and people help me clean up, they throw the beer bottles into my recycling. This is foreign to my Canadian soul. No one in Canada, not even the richest of the rich, puts beer bottles into the common recycling.

Walking in Toronto yesterday I saw two things you don’t see in California, black squirrels and pre-divided recycling bins: glass and aluminum here, plastic here, paper here, trash here. It made me pretty smug, until I was reminded that there are unfortunate things about Canada too. Emma informed us over dinner that there is likely to be a three week garbage strike in the city of Toronto this summer, and that a cross-Ontario liquor store strike will probably begin on Wednesday. Canada is great in so many ways, but Canada is a union shop.

Being a union shop has its up-sides of course.

 But here is a downside. Remember how your grade three teacher used to say “pass your papers back” and then make you mark one another’s tests? And remember my own post on the virtues of peer-reviewing? Turns out this kind of thing is illegal in Canada, because it deprives union employees of work.


5 thoughts on “Beer bottles and term papers, Canadian style

  1. …are the virtues of peer reviewing still virtues in grade three, in your opinion? (btw no-one says grade one/two/three etc in the States, they say First/Second/Third grade, right?)

  2. The recycling is sorted by a combination of machinery and humans. Magnets separate the steel. They rest gets sorted by density. I saw a pix of a conveyor belt w/ a human sorting the stuff that couldn’t be sorted by density. It looked v high tech. I am sure you can find some pix and articles using search engines.

    The operator of the facility claims that a mixed bin with automatic sorting gives a higher purity recycling stream than letting users sort their own. Plus, one bin recycling is proven to produce higher recycling compliance rates. Simplicity wins again. Who, in a small apt, has room for all those bins?

  3. Oonae, We have black Squirrels here in Princeton New Jersey. They are just a race of the gray squirrel, but are much more attractive.

    Like you, I don’t have much faith in recycling but perhaps for different reasons. The cost to make a glass bottle from scratch was, at least until recently, less than by recycling an old one. Our poor get jobs sorting the green from the white from the brown. and we all pay for the whole silly farce.

    I like you blog very much and intend to stop by from time to time.

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