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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