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Certification standards currently allow a plastic to be called “biodegradable” or “compostable” if it breaks down to a specified degree, over a minimum period of time, when exposed to a certain minimum temperature and other physical conditions. However, not all commercial composting and digestion facilities operate under those conditions, and the required conditions can vary depending on the specific certification applied.
The result is that many “certified biodegradable” or “certified compostable” plastics may not sufficiently biodegrade in existing commercial composting or digestion facilities. To be safe, leave them out of your green bin unless your municipality or your service provider specifically says their processing facility accepts them.
Most municipal organics and food scraps recycling programs in British Columbia currently do not accept plastic items or bags labelled “biodegradable,” “oxodegradable,” or “compostable.” Food scraps can instead be contained in paper bags, wrapped in newspaper, or placed loose into your orgranics bin. Contact your municipality for more information about your local program.
Businesses that offer “biodegradable” or “compostable” plastic items may have a program in place to ensure the correct disposal. Private waste haulers may also accept these items subject to processor approval.
The Federal government is currently working on developing regulations that would prohibit the labelling of plastic products as degradable, biodegradable or compostable unless they meet a specific standard.
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In BC, an organization called Recycle BC is responsible for residential plastic packaging collection and recycling. Government regulations stipulate that Recycle BC must approve the end markets for all of their materials before they are transferred. In the case of plastic, 99 percent remains in Canada, processed by Merlin Plastics. Less than 1% of plastic is shipped overseas in the form of densified polystyrene, and this constitutes only a portion of the foam they collect. For more information about how they manage the plastics they collect, see their annual reports and their response to the 2019 CBC Marketplace story. This foam is used in picture frames. For more information, please contact Recycle BC.Learn More
There is no standard recycling program in BC that accepts broken blue bins for recycling. If the blue bin you have has a plastic resin code visible on it, some plastic recyclers will accept the bin for recycling, often at a cost. Visit RCBC’s Recyclepedia for drop-off options or contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline for all options available in your community.Learn More
There is no regulation in BC that requires plastic products that are produced in or imported into the province to be recyclable or included in a recycling program.Learn More
There is no set recycling program in BC that accepts plastics from businesses. Recycling for plastics from businesses, institutions, and commercial applications is offered as a service by private waste management and recycling companies, generally at a cost. Contact your local service providers for details on accepted materials and fees.Learn More
Residential packaging foam and flexible plastics are accepted for recycling at all Recycle BC depot locations. They should not be placed in curbside or multi-family collection containers, unless expressly permitted by the service provider. Most residential recycling systems operate through the Recycle BC program, which prohibits these materials from inclusion in curbside recycling.Learn More
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 an item is made of. It does not mean the item can be recycled.Learn More
Plastic household items are not included in any of BC’s regulated recycling programs. Some municipal and regional landfills, transfer stations, and recycling facilities may accept certain types of plastics for recycling independent of provincial programs.
Some private plastic recyclers accept plastic household items for recycling, usually at a cost.Learn More
Most often food packaging belongs in your recycling bin rather than your organics bin. There are some cases, however, where paper packaging gets too soiled to go in with clean paper for recycling. If you get curbside collection for food scraps, some soiled paper products can go into your curbside organics bin. If you are not sure if your community has a food scraps collection program, please contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline.Learn More
If the bubble wrap is in reusable condition, we would recommend saving it for future use. Otherwise, bubble wrap is included in a provincial recycling program for residential packaging and printed paper, under a category called “Other Flexible Plastic Packaging.” This program is managed by an organization called Recycle BC.
These plastics are not included in the curbside recycling program but can be dropped off at a participating depot free of charge. For a complete list of locations, visit the RCBC Recyclepedia or contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline.Learn More
Crinkly wrappers and bags are included in a province wide recycling program for packaging and printed paper under a category called “Other Flexible Plastic Packaging.” This program is managed by an organization called Recycle BC. This category would include wrappers for candy and cookies, cereal bags, potato chip bags, and other products. For a complete list of included items, please visit the Recycle BC website. These plastics are not included in the curbside recycling program, but can be dropped off at a participating depot free of charge. Visit RCBC’s Recyclepedia for drop-off options or contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline for all options available in your community.Learn More
Plastic and paper-fibre pots and trays, including those for seedlings, vegetable plants, and bedding plants, are included in a province-wide recycling program managed by Recycle BC.Learn More
Residential polystyrene products such as egg cartons and meat trays are included in a province-wide recycling program managed by Recycle BC. Although this material is not accepted in most curbside recycling programs, it is accepted free of charge at a number of recycling depots in communities across the province.Learn More
Residential polystyrene foam packaging is included in a provincial recycling program managed by Recycle BC. This includes foam polystyrene packaging (styrofoam) to protect appliances as well as foam take out and meat containers. For a complete list of accepted products, visit the Recycle BC website.Learn More
Plastic bags and overwrap are included in a province-wide recycling program under Recycle BC. Included in this program are grocery and shopping bags, outer wrap for flats of beverage containers and diapers, garden product bags, and many more. For a complete list, visit the Recycle BC website. These items can be dropped off free of charge at a number of depot locations across the province. These items, once recycled, are turned into new plastic bags, plastic pallets, containers, or plastic decking material. Visit RCBC’s Recyclepedia for drop-off options or contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline for all options available in your community.
This program only includes plastic bags and overwrap from residents and does not include material from industry or commercial businesses. To see whether local options exist for commercial plastic recycling, contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline.Learn More
Wax and plastic lined food containers are included in a provincial recycling program for packaging and printed paper in BC. This program is managed by a non-profit organization called Recycle BC. Common examples of these containers are those for ice cream, microwavable meals, and milk products. These containers are included in many curbside recycling programs in BC and can be placed with household containers (not paper) once they are free of food residue.Learn More
Brita Corporation has teamed up with TerraCycle and implemented a national recycling program for Brita filters. Used Brita filters can also be taken to most London Drugs locations across the province for free drop-off through their Green Deal Recycling program.Learn More
Some cities have banned “clean and green” materials from the garbage. Composting organic yard trimmings conserves limited landfill space and produces a valuable resource! This material belongs in your backyard composter or municipal composting facilities, not the garbage. Visit RCBC’s Recyclepedia for drop-off options or contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline for all options available in your community.Learn More
If your community has curbside collection for food scraps, small amounts of used cooking oil can be soaked up in used paper towels or newspaper and then added to your curbside organics bin. If you do not have curbside food scraps collection, small amounts of soaked up cooking oil would go into your household garbage. If you are not sure if your community has a food scraps collection program, please contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline.Learn More
Pests and odours can be kept to a minimum with regular emptying and cleaning of your green bin. Remember you are not making more organic waste than before – just moving it into a different bin. Start with lining your kitchen catcher with newspaper, which absorbs liquids, prevents odours and make it easier to clean. Learn how here.Learn More
There are many benefits to keeping organic material out of the landfill. Engineered landfills are anaerobic environments, meaning they decompose without oxygen. When organic materials break down in anaerobic environments, methane gas is produced. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes directly to climate change.Learn More
Accepted materials in municipal composting programs vary. Basic programs include only yard and garden waste such as leaves, branches, and grass clippings. More comprehensive programs accept food scraps as well, including fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, bones, meat, fish, dairy, food-soiled cardboard, and baked goods.Learn More
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