No. 6 plastic, foam recycling efforts being made on West Island

Before you toss that Styrofoam plate or plastic cup into the trash, read this.

Pointe-Claire and Beaconsfield among communities on island of Montreal collecting No. 6 plastics

A recycling bin in Montreal filled with plastic. (Espace pour la vie Montréal)

Before you toss that Styrofoam plate or plastic cup into the trash, read this.

Some municipalities on the island of Montreal are looking at ways of recycling the previously unrecyclable No. 6 plastic — and are holding special collection days as part of it.

Polystyrene is identified with the type "6" plastic symbol. (CBC)

Over the weekend, residents in Pointe-Claire were invited to drop off items made of No. 6 rigid polystyrene and polystyrene foam at the local eco-centre. Residents who missed it this weekend will have another chance on Oct. 3.

Beaconsfield also held a polystyrene collection recently, allowing the town to recycle 230 kilograms of the stuff.

No. 6 plastics can be identified by a triangle with the number six in the centre of it. The material is commonly used by grocery stores to pack raw meat and other produce, but it's generally not accepted by Quebec's recycling programs.

In Montreal, people who want to recycle No. 6 plastic products have to drop them off at the eco-centre in LaSalle

Canadian Plastics Industry Association spokesman Stephen Tramley said he doesn't understand why cities are reluctant to recycle No. 6 plastics.

"Polystyrene and polystyrene foam, it's far less heavy in comparison to cardboard. It's between two and five times lighter," he said.

Why can't I put it in the recycling bin?

Polystyrene products like Styrofoam can be brought to the eco-centre​ in LaSalle. (CBC)

It's estimated that about 15 per cent of things Montrealers put in their recycling bin cannot actually be recycled. 

According to an article on Smithsonian.com, many cities choose not to recycle No. 6 plastic because it was previously bulky to transport and hard to clean — the material absorbs dirt and contaminants easily and most recycling facilities don't bother with deep cleaning.

However, Philip Beauchesne of Polyform, a Granby-based plastic-recycling company, said things are slowly changing.

He said cities are starting to realize recycling No. 6 plastic could be worth their while, considering how commonly used products made of the material are.

"It's more a cultural change we want to instill in cities and citizens," Beauchesne said.

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