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Region looking to reduce Blue Box litter

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Litterless blue boxes may be coming to Durham households as the region contemplates putting lids on recycling bins.

The region has been running a pilot project aiming to cut down on the litter coming from blue boxes.

In a presentation to the region’s works committee, manager of waste operations Craig Bartlett said high amounts of recyclable litter can be seen dispersed on very windy days.

Bartlett has proposed putting lids made of recycled tires on blue boxes around the region, with plans also in place to apply for a patent on the lids.

The lids were made in partnership with Emterra, a used tire processor.

The lids, which are black and made of tire crumb rubber, are designed to fit and lock in place on the die-cut corners which loop over the edges of a blue box.

Initially, lids were sent to 695 homes in neighbourhoods in Whitby and Ajax.

However, regional staff noticed many residents in these areas had broken blue boxes, or were simply using alternate methods to take out their recycling.

In response, the pilot was modified to provide each house with one new blue box with a lid already attached.

Bartlett said despite only 45 per cent of the households in the test areas using the lids, there was a 50 per cent decrease in the number of overfilled blue boxes being set out every week.

In a video shown to the committee, Bartlett noted the effectiveness of the lids with a recording of a demonstration, as two bins rolled on a high wind day.

Bartlett noted each bin in the video wasn’t empty, and the lids remained on despite the blue boxes being blown around.

Ajax councillor Marilyn Crawford firmly endorsed the idea.

“I absolutely love this project,” Crawford said, asking why they haven’t distributed the lids to a greater amount of homes.

Bartlett said there are still steps to take before expanding the project, including the possibility of finding a sponsor in order to cut down costs for the region, noting one major retailer has expressed interest in a partnership.

It would cost the region approximately $1 million to give every house in the region one new blue box.

He also noted there is a need to make every lid universal, and blue boxes around the region are often in bad shape.

Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell said as soon as the video becomes public, people are going to be asking for lids.

According to the report, staff needs to further monitor the pilot project, but it is still moving on to regional council.

So far, costs for the program have amounted to $23,000.  Currently the region is asking for resident’s feedback with an online survey. To participate or for more info, visit