How to Separate and Store Recyclables » Recycle BC - Making a difference together.

How to Separate and Store Recyclables

In our last post, we talked about packing lean to reduce your use and lighten your impact on the environment when you’re out enjoying the beautiful landscapes of our province. This week, we have tips for you to leave clean.. Leaving nature the way you found it means preserving our outdoor spaces for decades to come so we can all enjoy this summer and many more to come. Whether you’re headed for a picnic in the park with the family, or planning a multi-day excursion with your best friends, when you plan how to dispose of recyclables in advance, packing in and packing up to leave are easier. Here’s how to separate and store recyclables at home and on the road. 

Find out what is recyclable before you separate 

Depending on the items, your materials can either be dropped off at a Recycle BC depot on the way home, or brought home to recycle.

Visit our What Can I Recycle web page for the complete guide on where and how to recycle in BC, including a PDF download of our accepted material list in six languages. Find a Recycle BC depot near your home or your campsite with our map at

illustrated image with material examples and where to return them


Separate by where you plan to recycle the materials 

Recycle only at a depot 

Flexible plastic packaging, soft plastics and overwrap, and foam packaging can all be returned to Recycle BC depot. That includes:

  • Plastic bags for groceries, bread, vegetables and bulk foods
  • Zipper lock snack bags and meal pouches
  • Granola bar and energy gel wrappers
  • Plastic overwrap for diapers, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, tissues and soft drink can flats
  • Foam packaging for fish and meat(like burgers for the grill)

Pro Tip!: If you research depots before you leave, you can plan for a depot stop  on your return journey home. Did you know that there are over 250 Recycle BC depot locations around BC where you can drop off your plastic, metal, glass packaging and paper for recycling?

Recycle at a depot or at home 

Clear or coloured non-deposit glass bottles and jars can be dropped at a depot or brought home to recycle if your community receives curbside glass collection. If your community is not listed on this web page, check your local guidelines regarding glass collection.

illustrations of accepted glass bottles and jars

Recycle at home 

Paper and containers can be brought home to recycle. That includes: 

  • Paper packaging and cardboard 
  • Plastic containers (like yogurt and dip containers) 
  • Soup cartons and paper cups (i.e. coffee cups, take-out beverage cups)
  • Metal containers (like cans for beans and corn) 

Creating storage for recyclables 

The best way to store recyclables and minimize your waste is to use what you’ve already got! Once you’ve started to unpack your camping supplies, you’ll see storage spaces everywhere. 

Pack smaller plastics into larger plastic bags 

After you’ve emptied a larger plastic bag, start packing your other flexible and soft plastics inside–just think of how many granola bar wrappers you can fit into an empty chip bag, or the amount of soft plastic packaging that can be stuffed inside a plastic grocery bag. Packing your plastic bags and flexible plastics separately, it can mean an easy all-in-one drop at a depot on your way home, rather than sorting  in the car or at the depot. 

Empty cooler? Not for long!

Your cooler can be a storage unit for bringing recyclable material home and to a depot. This is a good option for heavier, breakable items that you don’t want rattling around in the back of the trunk, like glass bottles and jars, or a tidy way to contain the plastics destined for the depot.

Just remember to give your recyclables a good rinse before recycling at home or returning to a depot to reduce contamination and ensure more of the collected material can be effectively recycled.

Have a wonderful time in the great outdoors, and don’t forget to Pack Lean, Leave Clean!