Compostable or biodegradable packaging is not accepted in Recycle BC’s program as it is incompatible with the recycling process. But what does that mean?
When material is collected from residents’ curbs or from multi-family buildings, it is taken to a processing facility to be sorted into groups of like materials and baled. The result is that steel containers are baled together, cardboard is baled together, newsprint is baled together, and so on.
Material re-manufacturers expect the bales to be of a certain quality, so that they can use the materials to produce new products. While biodegradable or compostable packaging often looks and feels like other packaging, it is designed to degrade when wet or in the presence of oxygen and/or sunlight. If it is included with recyclable packaging, compostable or biodegradable packaging will compromise the quality and lifespan of the re-manufactured products. For example, material re-manufacturers do not want the materials that they produce to break down when used outdoors in sunlight, as some biodegradable plastics do. To prevent this, material re-manufacturers refuse bales that contain biodegradable material. What a waste!