Plastic Bags + Depots: A Recycling Match

Plastic bag recycling in the Recycle BC residential packaging and printed paper recycling program is a frequent topic for resident questions. We’ve previously discussed plastic bags and overwrap, and why throwing items that don’t belong in the recycling bin can be problematic, and below we revisit plastic bag recycling.

First, a refresher: The Recycle BC program accepts different types of plastic bags and overwrap, including plastic shopping bags, the plastic bag that covers new mattresses, plastic bags for bulk foods or produce, bread bags, and the overwrap on toilet paper and paper towels.

These items are only accepted at depots. This is to ensure that they meet recycling remanufacturers’ specifications, and because plastic bags collected at curbsides or through multi-family buildings wrap around machinery and impair the recyclability of containers and other recyclables.

At the depot, staff can ensure that the only bags that are accepted are empty, clean, and dry, and that they are entirely polyethylene (rather than a combination of layers of different types of plastics). While Recycle BC doesn’t use the number surrounded by a triangle or three arrows in the shape of a triangle on packaging—also known as the resin code—to identify if something is accepted in the program (resin codes signify what the material is made of, not its recyclability, as discussed here), a good rule of thumb is if a plastic bag has the recycling symbol and the numbers 2 or 4, it is accepted.