Clean Up Advice for Your Next Picnic

The “outdoor hang” quickly became the social event of BC’s summer in 2020 but did you manage the clean up when it was time to go home? The spring weather is arriving, which often means planning safe, outdoor hangouts and picnics to take advantage of living in beautiful BC. Last year, many of us adopted new strategies for enjoying the outdoors with folding chairs, blankets, and cooler bags, even bringing the dining out experience to the local park.

Recycling after a picnic or outside hangout may not be top of mind if recycling bins aren’t nearby but most of the packaging you’ll have on your hands can easily be recycled at home, or at a depot. It might feel odd bringing home an empty container, but it occupies the same space it did on the way to the park or the beach, and you’ll be diverting more waste from landfills by planning to recycle.

To celebrate Earth Day, we’ve compiled some advice from the Recycle BC team to ensure you leave your park or beach clean after enjoying some outside time.

Take-Out Food and Meal Packaging

There are two schools of thought on bringing food to your outdoor hangout: take-out or homemade. If you’re bringing homemade then chances are you’re the favourite friend and you have re-usable containers to transport it there so clean up is already part of your plan. For those picking up from a local take-out counter, we have a blog post that covers common take-out packaging and where it goes in your bins at home, or local depot. The rule of thumb for all containers is to recycle only when they’re empty and clean, and paper should be clean and dry.

Snacks and Treats

Meeting up with your regular crew outside doesn’t have to be a full meal affair. Sometimes it’s a short hangout to say hello and decompress after a workday – and what’s a better accompaniment for those times than a few snacks? Other flexible plastic packaging (OFPP) is often used for snacks like trail mixes and candy, and one example is a pouch that can stand up on a store shelf. This type of material is accepted at Recycle BC depots and London Drugs if it’s empty and clean.

Plastic pouch with zipper lock containing peanuts                granola bar wrapped in silver wrapper

Stand-up pouches (may also have a zipper lock)              Crinkly wrappers

open bag of chips                square block of cheese wrapped in sealed plastic

Chip bags (and other crinkly bags with foil lining)            Flexible containers with plastic seal

Recycling Reminder: OFPP are not collected with plastic bags and overwrap. It is a separate category.

Boxes To-Go

Boxes might be the most obvious recyclable item from your picnic spread but what about what’s inside? We’re not talking about the cookies or crackers – we’re talking about the sealed bag. Just like the bags inside cereal boxes, these crinkly bags are used to keep food fresh and can be returned to Recycle BC depots or London Drugs with other flexible plastic packaging. Listen for the crinkling noise to be sure they’re OFPP! The boxes, of course, can be recycled with your paper at home and if there was a plastic tray in the box holding cookies, that can also be recycled at home in the blue box.

box of crackers with crinkly sealed bag of crackers on display

With this info top of mind, we can work together to ensure our parks and beaches stay clean for friends and neighbours to enjoy this summer. Get familiar with our full accepted material list on our website or download our app to see our material list and find a depot near you – stay safe and enjoy!