With so much information floating around about recycling, it’s hard to know what’s fact and what’s fiction. That’s why we are tackling some of the recycling myths you might be hearing and sharing how BC’s residential packaging and paper recycling program really works.
Despite high standards for recycling markets, we have been able to ensure most of plastic packaging, paper products, glass, and metal containers collected through our program are recycled due to our concentrated effort to reduce contamination. After materials are sorted and baled, they are sold to end markets as a commodity. We prioritize achieving a positive environmental outcome and manage our materials is accordance with the Pollution Prevention Hierarchy. In 2019, 90% of collected material was managed by recycling, 3% was managed by recovery and produced into engineered fuel, and the remaining material contamination that simply cannot be recycled or recovered – was managed by disposal. Learn more about our recycling process.
While we’re still big fans of reusable bags, plastic bags can be recycled! They are collected at depots and London Drugs stores to keep them from mixing with other materials in curbside collection so they meet recycling remanufacturers’ specifications. When collected separately, they can be processed into pellets for use in new products or packaging. Bonus: they are recycled right here in BC!
We are a not-for-profit organization and an extended producer responsibility (EPR) program for residential packaging and paper. Through EPR, producers take responsibility for the end-of-life management of the materials they supply to residents. For BC only, this includes both operational and financial responsibility, managing the program and shifting costs away from homeowners and local governments. Producers pay fees based on the type and quantity of material they supply to BC residents. In 2019, 1,186 producers paid almost $100 million to fund the delivery of our recycling services.
We work primarily with a local BC recycling end market, who process the rigid plastic containers and soft plastic packaging we collect. They receive sorted plastic grades and convert them into raw materials to be sold to customers who use them to manufacture new packaging and products. What can’t be recycled, such as other flexible plastic packaging, they turn into engineered fuel, an engineered energy product that is a direct replacement for traditional non-renewable resources, such as coal, in industrial settings. We work together with our post-collection partners to manage all collected plastic responsibly.
When our program launched in 2014, we established a consistent list of accepted materials for all of BC. This material list included many items not previously accepted by BC communities, or currently accepted in other communities in Canada. This material list has continued to grow and we accept a wide range of items including plant pots, coffee cups, plastic bags, flexible plastic packaging (like chip bags and stand-up zipper-lock pouches), spiral wound cans, aerosol cans for beauty products, and empty coffee pods either in curbside bins or for some materials like soft plastics, only at depot. View our full material list.
By reducing and recycling, you’re helping our oceans and our environment. Responsible plastic management provides social, economic and environmental benefits, allowing plastics to be used to make new products and packaging, contributing to a circular economy. Together with our partner, Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, we endorse the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment’s common vision of a circular economy for plastics, where plastics never become waste.