Blue Box Recycling

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

Blue Box Recycling - Andrew Park

The better way.

Earth-changing ideas are not the property of Ph.Ds. Anyone can innovate if they just look around and ask, “Can’t we do this a better way?” Nyle Ludolph asked that question. The Kitchener, Ontario, garbage man was troubled by the vast amounts of waste he saw during his daily pickups, for he knew the landfills in his town were bursting at their seams. His answer came in the form of a simple blue box. In 1983, Nyle championed the world’s first municipal curb-side recycling program. His proposed boxes had a distinctive colour to make them visible against either grass or snow, and because blue is most resistant to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. His simple and profound idea soon spread across Canada, throughout North America, and around the world, turning what would have been countless tonnes of waste into new products and changing the behaviours and attitudes of millions of people. Turns out there was a better way.

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