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How to properly dispose of food related items from backyard picnics

With COVID-19 turning our summer vacations upside down, many families are turning to summer backyard picnics to safely enjoy the hot weather. How to reduce food waste and dispose of backyard picnic items properly can vary from municipality to municipality, but it’s one worth paying attention to as we spend more time at home and create more waste from home.

It’s best to download the Recycle Coach app or visit your municipal government’s website for information on food waste and food related items.

Let’s take a look at some of the common items you’d find at your family summer backyard picnic and how to dispose of them properly.

Food containers

Paper bags with take away food and coffee cups containers. Lunch box

Are you serving purchased treats of sweets in a tin canister at your family picnic? Can you recycle cookie and cake tins? Most recycling facilities across North America will recycle food tin containers. Just make sure that they are empty, clear, and dry. Materials made with tin and aluminum are great for recycling, because metals are infinitely recyclable.

Reusing these after you’ve cleaned out the sweets and treats is also a top choice for tin containers, boxes and canisters. If you’ve ever wondered why it’s such a widely shared experience for people to open cookie tin cans only to find sewing kits, it’s because these tin containers are durable and easy to keep clean (for the most part) – a great alternative to tossing them into the recycling bin.

If you’re packing up leftover food in plastic containers including Tupperware containers, you’re already giving a second life to plastic food containers! But what about if you’ve used up the plastic container. Can you recycle them? Most municipal recycling facilities welcome plastics with the #1, #2 recycling symbols. Some even accept plastics that have the #5 symbol. But plastics are tricky to recycle, because plastics have different qualities, characteristics that make them unfit for recycling. Black plastic containers, for instance, are even less likely to be recyclable in your city or town.

Always check with your municipality when it comes to throwing away plastic food containers.

Food accessories

If you are doing your summer picnic close to home, using actual, non-disposable utensils is the ideal. However, if it’s easier or more convenient to use disposable cutlery, you might find yourself using plastic cutlery. If that’s the case, remember that plastic cutlery belong to the trash bin, not the recycling receptacle.

What is the consequence of not throwing plastic cutlery away properly? These single-use plastic items are significant contributors to litter and pollution in the ocean and water ways.

Similarly, as most people know, plastic straws are also a major culprit in polluting waterways and our oceans. Plastic straws are not accepted in most recycling bins, and must be put in the trash.


Food waste

Backyard summer picnics are fun, but you may also end up having so much fun that you forget to eat! Or, simply, after you have enjoyed your summer at-home picnic, you may find that you simply did not finish all the food.

There have been reports that nearly half the food waste produced globally is created at home. It’s important to understand the role that you play as an individual in the production of food waste. One of the things that you can do to give a second life to your food waste is to start composting at home. Apple cores, banana peels, and broccoli stems can be composted to produce soil, which you can in turn use for gardening!

Keep summer family picnics at home sustainable and eco-friendly

Picnics are a great way to enjoy the outdoors on a budget, and while staying close to home. Whether you have a large backyard, a deck, or even just a living space big enough to accommodate an afternoon fun of eating on a picnic blanket and munching on treats or a meal, family picnics are one way to have fun in the midst of the global pandemic.

Just be sure to dispose of your picnic ware properly and be mindful of the food that goes into a picnic!

And as always, check on your Recycle Coach app to see your municipalities’ rules. Find your municipality here.

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