What Goes Where: A Recycling Bin Refresher

Recently, the CBC posted an article titled, “10 kinds of packaging that are a pain in the blue box,” that identified certain materials that should not be included in recycling containers. They write,


Most plastic containers will go in your blue box

Certain kinds of packaging are just too hard for many recycling programs to handle. Some require consumers to take a few extra steps to disassemble them before dropping them in the blue box. Others look like recyclable materials but aren’t accepted by many recycling programs. And still others are hard to process, then sell afterward, as they can’t easily be turned into new products.


When certain “unrecyclable” items do end up in blue boxes, they can contaminate materials that are normally recyclable.

While that’s true there are a few exceptions in their item list for British Columbia:

Standup pouches, foiled wrappers, and other ‘multi-layered laminates’

These materials were previously not included in the Recycle BC program. However, beginning June 1, 2018, Recycle BC is launching a pilot program to accept these materials at 116 participating depots throughout BC. The CBC article mentions that BC is, “looking into turning these into fuel pellets.” While that may be an option, our primary focus is to determine if this material can be recycled first before exploring other options.

This new category will be called Other Flexible Plastic Packaging and is depot-only – meaning it cannot be accepted at the curb or multi-family recycling.

Black plastic containers, plant pots, and trays

In BC, black plastic containers, plant pots, and trays can be included in your container recycling bin. Our partner, Merlin Plastics, is able to sort this material manually. We recognize this material is not accepted in some other provinces and want to reiterate that black plastic is accepted in BC.

Coffee and tea takeaway cups

Recycle BC has collected coffee and tea takeaway cups since launching in 2014. The cups can be included in your container recycling bin. Even though coffee and tea cups have layers of paper, they are best collected with containers, as they have a polycoat plastic lining. For more information, click here to read our blog post on the recycling process for coffee cups and other polycoated containers.

Coffee Pods

As mentioned in the article, remove the lid and grounds, and they are accepted with your container recycling.

Coloured, opaque PET plastic energy drink and personal care bottles

While clear PET plastic can be made into new products of any colour, coloured and opaque PET plastic is definitely accepted for recycling in BC. It can be made into dark coloured plastic containers when recycled, like Lush’s black plastic sample pots, made entirely from recycled BC plastic.

Clear plastic bakery and electronics packaging

This material has been accepted in the Recycle BC program since we first started operating in 2014, so please continue to place with your container recycling.

Flats of drink bottles and cans

To confirm, we agree that the plastic and cardboard should be separated when recycling flats of drink bottles and cans. The cardboard flat can go with your paper recycling and the plastic, which we call overwrap, must be taken to a recycling depot or London Drugs store. Find a depot near you here.