Commonly confused items: paper or container?

Many communities in BC are asked to sort their recyclables – separating paper, newsprint and cardboard from other packaging materials, such as cans, milk jugs, plastic clamshells, tetra-paks, and other containers.  In the past, we have written about how to sort your recyclables, but many residents are still stumped by whether to put certain items in their paper recycling or to include it with their containers and other packaging materials. Here are a few commonly confused items.

Egg cartons: Egg cartons are made from one of three materials: molded boxboard (paper fiber) packaging, polystyrene (plastic foam), or plastic. Paper egg cartons should go in with your paper recycling, and plastic egg cartons are included with containers. Polystyrene (plastic foam) cartons must be brought to a depot.

Coffee Cups: Insulated “paper” beverage cups and lids should be included in your container recycling, as they are not 100% paper fiber. The paper sleeve and carrying tray should be removed and included with your paper recyclables – this will ensure it all gets recycled as intended.  (And remember: polystyrene (foam) cups go to a depot.)

Pizza boxes: While some municipalities accept pizza boxes in their food scrap program, MMBC prefers you to include these in your paper recycling bin so that it can have a second life. Remember to empty any left-over pizza into your food scrap bin first.

Milk Cartons: Gable-top cartons, typically used for dairy products but also for molasses, egg whites and other products, should be rinsed and put in your container recycling. Like hot beverage cups, this material is not 100% paper fiber and it is easier for post-collection processors to sort the material correctly (and ensure it is recycled) if residents place them in their container recycling as opposed to their paper recycling. Gable-top beverage containers, such as those for juice, should be returned for refund under the Return-It program.

Frozen dessert boxes: Similar to coffee cups and milk cartons, please include frozen dessert boxes with your container recycling.

Still have questions? View the complete MMBC material list or ask us a question @recyclinginbc.