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I confess: I am a culprit of wishcycling. Wishcycling is defined as, “the practice of tossing questionable items in the recycling bin, hoping they can somehow be recycled” (1). As much as we may wish recycling wasn’t so complicated, unfortunately most of the time it can be. With lack of easy access to information, a lot of us find ourselves hovering over our various waste baskets, with an item in hand, wondering what to do with it. As a result, only about 10% of what is added to recycling streams, actually gets recycled (2). It is obvious that this take-make-dispose model is failing, so what can we do to improve it? We see two ways that we can all be part of the solution.


SPUD’s waste reduction strategy


One solution to diverting items from the landfill is knowing what materials go in what waste stream to reduce contamination. Contamination is when items are placed in the wrong waste stream, such as recycling an apple core rather than putting it in the compost (3). This is problematic because when these wrongly sorted items end up at the processing facilities, they will not be sent to the right place- rather, they will be taken out and sent to the landfill (4). Second, we can reject the single-use items all together and opt for reusable alternatives!


At SPUD, we have worked towards these solutions through various initiatives, such as through our Pink Bag Takeback program and through our grocery delivery model which uses reusable packaging to deliver our customer’s orders. But our efforts don’t stop there! We at SPUD want to further support our customers who seek to reduce their contributions to waste. We have an exciting announcement related to this coming next week- stay tuned!!


Intriguing findings


Our Sustainability team discussed some of the most commonly used items we find ourselves questioning how to recycle and put them into a waste management chart. Did you know that paper plates go in the compost and plastic cutlery can’t be recycled?!


A progressive step is better than none at all


We recognize that best practice is always to reduce and reuse packaging before resorting to disposal, but if we can all improve how we manage our waste, it is a step in the right direction.


See our waste management chart below and print it out to keep near your recycling and compost bins for the next time you find yourself wishcycling. If you have questions about items that you can’t find on our waste management chart, search “waste wizard [your city]” for more information.







Aluminum aerosol containers        
Aluminum Foil        
Bread Bags        
Butter wrapper        
Cereal box liner        
Chip bags        
Plastic Clam Shells (labels off)        
Coffee Cup        
Coffee Lid        
Compost Bag        
Compostable Plastic Cup        
Dog Waste        
Envelope without Window        
Foil Lids (on Containers)        
Food Soiled Paper or Cardboard        
Juice Cartons/Boxes        
Milk Carton        
Muffin Paper Cups        
Paper Towel        
Peanut Butter Jar (remove label)        
Plastic Cutlery        
Plastic Shopping Bags (tie together)        
Saran Wrap        
Plastic Straws        
Styrofoam takeout container        
Tea Bag (Paper)        
Toothpaste Tube        
Wax Paper        
Ziploc bags (tie together)        






(1) Jinja. “Why is Wish-Cycling a bad idea?” Jinga

(2) Environmental Defense. “Towards A Zero Plastic Waste Canada.” Environmental Defence.

(3) Jennifer. “What is contamination?” Recycle BC.

(4) Ibid. 

Michelle Austin

Michelle is SPUD's Sustainability Lead. She believes a sustainable food system is the key to creating a environmentally-friendly and just world. You can often find her in the mountains biking, hiking or skiing!

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