Exploring the Recycling Life Cycle

Last week we explored some of the items that the materials collected in the Multi-Material BC (MMBC) packaging and printed paper recycling program are turned into. But how does a plastic bottle go from a container in your recycling to cozy clothing?

After your recycling is collected, it’s sorted and compacted into bales. The bales are sold to material remanufacturers, who process the contents into something that can be used again. Material remanufacturers can do more and produce higher-quality recycled plastic with bales that consist of only the same plastic type. These bales of the same plastic are shredded, washed, and pelletized. The pellets are heated and spun into fibres, which are then processed into clothing. Fewer new resources are required in the process when starting with recycled materials.

Did you know? Impurities are caused by multiple plastic types being processed together. You can help by including only recyclable materials with your recycling.

Like plastic containers, metal packaging is also sorted at the recycling facility. Once sorted, the metal packaging is shredded and smelted. Then it can be rolled into sheets, wire, or bar, and used to make new cans, car parts, or construction materials.

Did you know? Anything made from steel in North America has some recycled content.

The paper and cardboard you recycle is pulped and pressed into fibres that are used in new paper products and packaging.

We have prepared a short animated video and infographic to show how different materials are sorted and processed. Learn more about what happens to your recycling here.