Here, you can find answers to a variety of questions involving Norfolk’s ‘Simple Sort’ recycling program.

What is the new two-box recycling program all about?

The County has a new way of setting recyclables at the curb for collection. Instead of separating paper, boxboard and containers inside or beside the current box, the ‘Simple Sort’ system requires that materials be sorted into two separate boxes. All paper products like newspapers, flyers, cereal and tissue boxes, magazines and small corrugated cardboard boxes, plus the bag of plastic bags go into the existing black (or blue) recycling box. Containers like metal cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, jars and tubs go into the new, taller black box.

Why is it called ‘Simple Sort’?

‘Simple Sort’ is the theme for the 2-box system. It is being used on all of the promotion and education materials. It reflects that fact that the new 2-box recycling system is easy to do!

When does the program start?

‘Simple Sort’ started May 2, 2011.

Why did everyone get a new, tall black box?

The ‘Simple Sort’ 2-box system is a more effective and efficient means of managing recyclable materials from the set-out at the curb to the material processing at the material recovery centre (MRF). Technological improvements in MRF processing equipment over the past decade have made it possible to sort recyclables and separate glass more effectively on the processing line. This means that all of the container packaging materials can be collected together and all paper recyclables can be collected and set out together. Other Ontario municipalities that have adopted 2-box recycling have increased the capture rate of the materials they collect.

Adopting the 2-box system of separating recyclables is considered a ‘best practice’ in the recycling industry.

Why is the new box so much larger than the traditional recycling boxes we’ve used up until now? 

A taller recycling box for container-type recyclables ensures that you have increased capacity for sorting and storing the range of container materials (e.g. metal cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, jars and tubs, Tetra PakTM boxes, spiral tubes, empty paint cans, empty aerosol cans) that go into the box.

Who is supposed to use the new black boxes?

Everyone who has recycling service (e.g. they set their recyclables out at the curb) should be using the new box. This includes homes, businesses and small multi-family locations with relatively few apartments where the residents take their recyclables to the curb in recycling boxes.

What about people who live in larger multi-family residences?

People who live in larger apartment buildings who take their recyclables to rollout carts or “totes” (e.g. not to the curb in boxes) do not use the new tall black boxes; however, should include the new materials added on May 2 to the program (see the ‘Simple Sort’ Recycling Guide for the list of materials accepted in the program).

In apartment and condo buildings, there are only two types of carts: one cart for containers and one cart for papers. It does not matter which colour is used for containers or papers but they should be labelled as such. Now glass bottles and jars can go into the same cart with metal cans, plastic bottles, jars and tubs, empty paint cans, empty aerosol cans, Tetra PakTM boxes and spiral tubes and tubs. Newspapers, fine paper, boxboard and small corrugated boxes can go together into the cart labelled for paper recyclables. Large corrugated cardboard boxes should be flattened and bundled separately and set by the rollout carts.

New Materials Accepted

What are the new materials accepted in the ‘Simple Sort’ program?

In addition to the regular materials, Norfolk now accepts the following recyclables:

  • Empty metal paint cans and metal lids (lids placed in the recycling box separately)
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Tetra PakTM containers such as juice drinking boxes, soup and beverage boxes (these boxes come in various shapes and are made from paper with a thin coating of plastic; they go into the tall container box)
  • Cardboard spiral cans with metal bottoms, e.g. for frozen juice, dough tubes, baby formula, potato chips.

Where do plastic bags go?

Loose plastic bags should be stuffed into a single plastic bag, tied, and placed with newspapers, magazines, boxboard (e.g. cereal and tissue boxes) and small corrugated cardboard boxes in the small box. The reason for putting the bag of plastic bags in the small box is that plastic bags can be separated from papers more easily during processing than they can from containers. Accepted bags are: retail shopping and grocery bags; bread and frozen vegetable bags; outer milk bags; RINSED AND CLEAN inner milk bags; dry cleaning bags; clean bubble wrap; and plastic wrap used for pop and water bottles, tissue boxes, toilet issue and paper towels.

Shredded paper (only) should be placed inside a firmly-tied plastic bag or a paper bag with the top folded or rolled down, and placed at the curb beside the recycling boxes. Large quantities of shredded paper should be placed in a firmly tied, clear plastic bag and set beside the boxes.

Why 2-Box Recycling?

Why do we have to have another box?

Two-box recycling (e.g. separating paper recyclable materials from container packaging materials) is more efficient. The collectors save time at the curb by unloading the contents of each box into the truck (into two separate compartments) instead of hand sorting materials into six different bins on the side of the truck. Also, because of technological advancements in processing equipment, recyclables sorted into paper and containers can be managed efficiently at the processing MRF. When you place recyclables into your recycling boxes, you take the first step in making the overall recycling program more efficient. The tall black box gives you more capacity to collect all the recyclable containers together in one box.

Why can’t paper recyclables go into the bigger black box? (Some people have more paper recyclables than containers.)

Recyclable containers tend to be lighter weight so a bigger box works for them. Paper products like newspapers, magazines, catalogues, etc. can be heavier, so the smaller box allows the box to be handled more easily. It’s better for you and it’s especially important for the people who collect the recyclables since they lift hundreds of boxes every day.

What if I have more paper recyclables than will fit in my small box?

You can use a spare small recycling or similar size cardboard box for extra paper recyclables. Even a laundry basket will do. Or you can save extra materials for the next collection.

What do I do to keep papers from flying out of the small box on windy days?

On windy days, use newspapers in an untied plastic bag as a weight to keep other loose papers in the small box.

If I have a smaller blue box, can I still use it?

Yes. You can continue to use your smaller blue box for paper recyclables for extra materials.

Can I use blue plastic bags to set out recyclables?

No. Large plastic blue bags do not work well because the recyclables get caught in the plastic with the result that workers have to pull the bags off the processing line, causing inefficiencies.

Can I use the tall container box for paper?

No, because paper recyclables are heavier than container recyclables and then it might be too heavy to lift safely.

Why is Norfolk changing the recycling program? Isn’t the way we recycle now working?

Recycling systems have improved over the years. By moving to a two-sort (papers and containers) system, Norfolk will improve the efficiency of the recycling program from the curb to the processing centre. Better efficiency means the program will be more effective overall and we’ll capture more materials for recycling.

Why are Norfolk’s recycling boxes black instead of blue?

The black boxes contain a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content which means that some of the plastic materials recycled in Ontario’s programs go into making new black boxes. By purchasing black boxes, it helps to close the recycling loop.

My recycling wasn’t picked up today. Why?

The reason likely is that the paper and container recyclables were not sorted into separate boxes. Norfolk County has switched to 2-box recycling which means that recyclers must put all paper recyclables, as well as plastic bags (stuffed into one bag and tied) into a small recycling box and containers such as plastic, metal and glass bottles, jars, jugs and tubs into the new tall recycling box. Please resort your recyclables and put them at the curb again next week.

I got a green sticker on my recycling box. Why?

The green “oops” sticker is meant to tell you that the recycling collector could not empty your recycling boxes because the paper and container recyclables were not sorted separately into the small and tall recycling boxes properly. Please resort your recyclables and put them at the curb again next week.

Program Costs

Who is paying for this new program?

Norfolk County will receive a sizeable grant from an industry-municipal organization called the Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) which was set up to help municipalities apply best practices to improve the efficiency of their recycling programs. The remainder of the program costs are funded from Norfolk County’s waste management budget; however, a portion of the net cost of the system is reimbursed by industry through a municipal-industry cost sharing agreement.

Was the advertising campaign necessary?

A number of studies have been conducted by provincial organizations on best practices in municipal recycling programs. One of the findings is that a sustained promotion and education program is essential to inform residents of program changes and to remind them continuously of what’s recyclable and how to prepare materials. The investment in promotion and education pays off. People recycle more materials and more frequently, and they more readily adopt the proper procedures which lead to a higher quality product when it comes time to sell materials to end-markets. The ‘Simple Sort’ campaign ensured that everyone was aware of the fact that they would have a new recycling system beginning on May 2.