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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Does anyone know for certain if you can recycle envelopes with transparent plastic windows in them? Reason would say no, but the City of Toronto website is unclear on this matter, and my email to them has so far gone unanswered.

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Surely you could at least remove the windows and recycle the rest of the envelope?

Worst-case scenario, anyway.

Yeah, but that's certainly more work and I'm lazy.

Actually, that's the title of an article in the latest New Scientist

Here's the info in question, from the article Dumb Eco-Questions You Were Afraid to Ask

Can I put window envelopes in the paper recycling?

Envelopes are tricky devils to recycle because of their transparent plastic address windows and sticky seals. Latex gum from self-sealing envelopes clogs machines, and plastic degrades recycled paper quality. Both have to be extracted. However, different paper mills have different tolerances to contaminants, depending on their cleaning equipment, the product being made, and the grade of recovered paper being recycled. That's why recycling agencies have differing standards. In the UK, you can check whether your local authority will accept any type of envelope by using the postcode checker at recyclenow.com. Otherwise, you'll have to remove the window and the gum before recycling - or simply reuse your envelopes.

Yes, you have to remove the windows, otherwise, your envelopes won't get recycled. Some envelope companies are now producing envelopes with windows made of a translucent paper that, to me, looks like waxed paper (the kind you use for baking cookies). Most, however, are still manufacturing the plastic variety.

Yeah, that's what I figured. Well, it's not that much hassle to tear them out.

Now that we can recycle so much in Toronto, the stuff we can't (said envelopes, plastic bakery trays) is becoming annoying. Time to pressure the manufacturers into making some changes.

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