Recycle BC FAQs - Recycle BC

Can I recycle items that are not packaging or printed paper but are made from recyclable materials?

The Recycle BC program is for packaging and paper only. See what packaging and printed paper is accepted in our program here. For items that are not packaging or paper, contact the Recycling Council of BC, or use their Recyclepedia website tool.

Do I have to pay eco-fees on the products I buy?

Recycle BC does not charge any fees directly to residents.

Do I have to remove the labels from containers?

You can leave the labels on containers. Please ensure that containers are empty and rinsed.

Do I need to clean containers before adding them to my recycling?

Please empty containers and give them a quick rinse in leftover dishwater before adding them to recycling. This helps minimize contamination from food residue spoiling the recyclability of materials and also reduces pests and smells.

Does Recycle BC only accept plastic containers with the recycling symbol?

The symbol consisting of a number surrounded by a triangle, or three arrows in the shape of a triangle, is a resin identification code used to identify the type of plastic used to make the package. It does not mean the package can be recycled. If the plastic packaging appears on the list of materials accepted in the Recycle BC program, it’s accepted, regardless of whether it has the resin code. For more information about resin codes, click here.

How do I know if glass is collected from my curb or multi-family building?

Curbside glass collection varies across the province. If you live in an area directly served by Recycle BC, please check your recycling guide. If you do not live in an area directly served by Recycle BC, please check with your local government or recycling collector for information about glass collection in your community.

How does the Recycle BC program affect me?

In many BC communities, the municipal government provides packaging and paper recycling services to residents through curbside, multi-family, or depot collection programs with financial support from Recycle BC. In these communities, the municipal government communicates with residents about the community’s recycling program. Recycle BC is directly responsible for curbside recycling collection of packaging and paper in the communities linked here. Residents living in these communities should contact their recycling collector (listed on the community-specific pages) with questions about their recycling collection. Recycle BC uses a consistent material list for the province, meaning the same materials are accepted everywhere Recycle BC operates. Find the full material list here.

I have more recycling than fits in my collection containers.

You can conserve space in your collection containers by compacting materials. Cardboard can be flattened and cut down to smaller pieces (e.g. pizza box size) and stacked next to your recycling containers. There is no limit to the amount of packaging and paper you can recycle in our program. Find more tips for collection day on our blog! Contact your recycling collection provider for information on additional collection containers.

What does “aseptic” mean?

Aseptic packaging is used to store long-life foods like soy, almond, and other milk-type beverages; cream; soup; broth; and sauces on a shelf, rather than in the refrigerated aisle. Empty aseptic containers or cartons are accepted in the Recycle BC program.

What happens to materials when they are collected?

After your packaging and printed paper is collected, it’s sorted and compacted into bales. The bales are sold to material re-manufacturers, who process the contents into something that can be used again. Read this page for a closer look at what happens to your recycling.  

What is “overwrap”?

Overwrap is the plastic packaging around things like flats of pop, diapers, paper towels, etc. and is accepted at a Recycle BC depot. It should not be included in your household recycling.

What materials are accepted in Recycle BC’s residential packaging and paper recycling program?

Recycle BC accepts the following categories of packaging and paper recycling: - Paper and paper packaging for dry goods -Cartons and paper cups -Plastic containers -Aluminum containers -Steel containers -Glass containers -Plastic bags and overwrap -Foam packaging -Other Flexible Plastic Packaging See what packaging and paper is accepted in Recycle BC’s program here.

Who do I contact for more info about my recycling collection?

For more information about your recycling collection, please contact the recycling collector listed on our direct service community pages here. If you are not in one of our direct service communities, please contact your municipality for questions regarding your recycling.

Who is Recycle BC?

Recycle BC is a non-profit organization that uses fees paid by these organizations to finance residential recycling programs in many areas across BC, either directly or by working with local governments, First Nations, private companies and other non-profit organizations. Retailers, manufacturers, and other organizations that supply packaging and printed paper to BC residents are responsible for collecting and recycling these materials when residents are finished with them. This is called extended producer responsibility, or EPR — a way for businesses to manage the environmental impact of products during all stages of the product life-cycle, from selecting the materials used in production to collection and recycling when a product is no longer useful. Learn more about Recycle BC here.

Why are single-use recycling bags (as collection containers) being phased out?

Reusable containers are more environmentally friendly and create less waste, reducing the amount of material going to landfill or needing to be recycled. They also take the onus off the resident to purchase the bags in order to participate in their recycling program.  Operationally, plastic bags make it difficult for collection crews to identify and remove material that is not recyclable and should not be included for recycling collection. There are also post-collection health and safety impacts as these bags need to be manually opened at the recycling facility in order to access the recyclable material. Plastic bags, when included or the sorting line also negatively impact the recycling process by getting tangled in the sorting equipment, requiring a shut-down of the sorting line in order to clean the equipment.

Why isn’t all packaging and printed paper materials accepted in curbside and multi-family recycling?

While many types of packaging and paper can be recycled and are included in Recycle BC’s residential packaging and paper recycling program, some materials need to be kept separate from others in order to be recycled, and some materials are not accepted. Click here to see Recycle BC’s material list. Foam packaging, plastic bags, and overwrap: Some materials, like foam packaging and plastic bags and overwrap, require special handling, which is why we ask that they be kept separate from other recyclables and taken to Recycle BC depots and/or London Drugs locations. Glass: Deposit glass containers should be returned to depots for refund. In some communities, non-deposit glass containers (e.g. jars for sauces) are collected at curbside and from multi-family buildings, where they are kept separate from other recyclables. Otherwise, residents can take glass containers to Recycle BC depots. Check with your recycling collection provider for how glass is handled in your community. Other Flexible Plastic Packaging: This category includes a variety of common food packaging — find our full list here. Other Flexible Plastic Packaging (OFPP) is only accepted at Recycle BC depots and London Drugs locations. Read more

Why should items be loose in the collection container? Can they be in a plastic bag?

Items that are inside a plastic bag cannot be recycled properly. The sorting machines at the recycling facility cannot sort the materials and for safety reasons, staff cannot open these bags.