Holiday Recycling Tips and Tricks

We’ve said it before (for multiple occasions) but it bears repeating: holidays often bring additional packaging and paper recycling compared to the rest of the year. Of course, you can rely on our infographic and webpage to refresh your material knowledge — but we’d like to share a few extra tips to help keep your celebrations festive and tidy.

Empty and Rinse

Does this tip sound familiar? It might seem like we have a habit of repeating ourselves but we wouldn’t do it if the info wasn’t important. Contamination is one of the main reasons that prevents material from being recycled. This includes foodstuff left over in containers.

Foodstuff in bottles, jars, and other containers can be stubborn — think a jar of peanut butter on its last spread — so it’ll require a bit more work. But the payoff will be a blue box full of material that’s ready to recycle! Other examples of contamination is material that shouldn’t be included in recycling bins, like material made of multiple types of material, (e.g.plastic-lined paper) and incorrectly sorted material.

Sort it For the Depot

In addition to recycling containers and paper at home, there’s a lot of material on our #HolidayRecycling list that can be returned to Recycle BC depots and London Drugs. To make your trips to the depot a little easier, we recommend collecting this material in bags at home. Most of it is flexible and/or small so you can collect quite a bit before you have to visit a depot. Try this sorting method:

1. Plastic Bags and Overwrap: Examples include grocery bags, produce bags, plastic wrap on paper towels or flats of soda cans.

2. Foam Packaging: For electronics and appliances, but also trays for meat and fish. The padded liner under the food is not accepted.

3. Other Flexible Plastic Packaging: This category is all collected together and includes stand-up and zipper lock pouches, sealed packaging for deli meat, pasta bags, crinkly plastic (like chips and candy bags), plastic net bags, and more.

These three categories are collected in separated containers at depots and London Drugs, so a pre-sort at home will cut even more time off your depot visit.

Glitter Doesn’t Always Make It Better

This might be the most controversial entry on our list because we understand that glitter can add a special festive touch. However, did you know that most glitter is made from plastic? Very tiny, can’t-recycle pieces of plastic. Now you might say, “Oh, well it’s easy to just not buy glitter,” but don’t forget that it can be part of greeting cards, wrapping paper and other packaging you receive during the holidays. This causes contamination with these items — a mixture of material — so they aren’t accepted for recycling. Aim to reduce your use of anything glitter-adjacent to ensure you can recycle more.



When We Have to Say No

Recycle BC’s program is for packaging and paper recycling in the province. We’re one of many stewardship programs that help divert material from landfills. Occasionally, there are items that may appear to be “blue box recyclable” but don’t belong in there. Common items that get mistakenly put in blue boxes this time of year include:

  • String lights
  • Batteries
  • Toys
  • Electronics
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Foil gift wrap
  • Food and/or organics

There is lot of material that is recyclable at depots like batteries, lights and electronics. We recommend contacting the Recycling Council of BC for more information. Ribbons and bows, and foil gift wrap are not accepted due to contamination of mixed material, as mentioned above. Food and/or organics? Seems obvious but a friendly reminder never hurts!



The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy the company of family and friends. We hope these tips will help you focus on that and keep your recycling simple this year.