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Over 120,000 masks and gloves mistakenly placed in blue box

The Regional Municipality of York, along with local cities and towns are reminding residents single-use masks, gloves and wipes go in the garbage – not the blue box or the green bin. 

Starting Monday, October 5, waste collection crews in Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan will leave behind all blue boxes with masks, gloves or wipes at the curb and will place a warning sticker on your blue box as a reminder. 

While most people are responsibly putting their masks and gloves in the garbage, we are seeing over 120,000 masks and gloves each month arriving at our materials recovery facility where recyclables are sorted. 

If you do happen to get this sticker, we ask that you remove any masks, gloves and wipes from your bin and place them in a plastic bag to go in your garbage. You can then put your blue box back out the following week or if you have too much to store you can also drop your recyclables off at one of the Region’s depots; City of Markham residents can also use one of Markham’s depots

Since the onset of COVID-19, York Region and local cities and towns have worked diligently to remind residents these items must go in the garbage. We want to thank everyone who has been putting these items in the right place; however, the Region continues to see contamination, with the highest proportion of these items arriving from the cities of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. 

pile of masks and gloves that were found in recycling at the mrf

What happens when masks, gloves and wipes are placed in the blue box?

When you place masks, gloves and wipes in the blue box, these items:

  • Must be physically removed by front-line workers from the recycling system because they aren’t accepted, and the worker must place them in the garbage
  • Put front-line workers at a higher risk for getting or spreading COVID-19
  • Can become litter because they are lightweight and could blow or fall from curbside bins
  • May end up being mixed in with the good recyclables impacting their recyclability

How to stay safe when properly handling waste in your home and your community

  • Throw your used wipes, gloves and masks in the garbage, not the blue box or green bin
  • Put them in a wastebasket, lined with a plastic bag
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after throwing those items away as well as after emptying your waste basket
  • Tie all your waste bags securely and put out with your regular trash. Loose materials left in garbage cans will be left behind
  • Wash your hands before and after handling your curbside bins; gloves are not necessary. If you do use gloves, please throw these away in the garbage
  • Consider using reusable, washable masks instead of disposable, single-use masks, if you are able
  • For your safety and that of our waste collectors, please respect physical distancing and keep a distance of 2-metres at all time
  • If out in the community, please do not litter these items. Place in a trash can or take home to go in your own garbage. Littering these materials on the ground is unacceptable and poses a risk to the public, workers and the environment

If you have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Place all disposable items that have come into contact with your mouth, nose or eyes into the garbage – this includes recyclables such as plastic water bottles, pop cans or milk cartons, or compostables such as facial tissue or paper napkins 

More information

For more information about garbage and recycling in York Region, visit york.ca/waste    

For any waste collection inquiries please contact your local city or town.

Learn more about York Region’s emergency response to COVID-19 at york.ca/covid19


masks,gloves,ppe,blue box,recycling,garbage The Regional Municipality of York, along with local cities and towns are reminding residents single-use masks, gloves and wipes go in the garbage – not the blue box or the green bin. The Regional Municipality of York en-US News

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