Recycling Stats

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of our landfills consists of organic material in BC – meaning food scraps, yard waste, food-soiled paper products, and biosolids. According to the BC Government, this is equivalent to a global carbon footprint of approximately 4.4 billion tonnes of CO2 annually.

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of our plastic in Canada is recycled according to the federal government. Plastic is now labelled as a pollutant, and Canadians throw away over 3 million metric tonnes of plastic every year. Governments at all levels are taking action.

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The goal for plastic Canada Plastic Pact’s goal for plastic packaging in Canada is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. A circular economy for plastics in Canada would save $500 million in costs every year, create tens of thousands of jobs, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

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The recovery rate for beverage containers in BC in 2021 according to Encorp Pacific (Return-It). Since 2000, the rate has ranged between 72% and 82%. The ERP program mandates a minimum of 75%.

Recycling in BC Overview

Recycling in your community is driven by BC’s Provincial Recycling Regulation which provides the rules and regulations for how recycling is planned for and managed.

BC also has an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Policy, which places the responsibility for end-of-life management of products and their packaging on manufacturers. When you buy a product covered by an EPR you pay a deposit or eco-fee. Some examples of the types of products covered by an EPR program and returned to a depot by the public after use are beverage containers, paints, tires, and batteries.

The Province also requires that each Regional District in BC develop and submit a Solid Waste Management Plan for approval. These plans detail how each regional district will not only manage its residential, commercial and institutional waste, and its recycling facilities, but also how it will work towards and reach provincially imposed waste reduction targets.

More about Recycling in BC

Zero Waste by 2040

While BC is ahead of most other regions in terms of recycling and composting, Zero Waste BC and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives call for bold policies centering on redesign, innovation, and shifting culture – by 2040.

EPR 5-year Action Plan

BC’s Action Plan (2021-2026) calls for the addition of more materials to the EPR Program.  These include more types of batteries (such as those from electric vehicles), mattresses, more pressurized canisters (such as camping fuel), and medical sharps from homes (such as those used for insulin).

Top 3 Material Questions

At RCBC, we receive nearly 250,000 questions each year about how to recycle materials.  Here are the top 3 from 2021:

  1. Car and truck tires
  2. Disposable propane tanks
  3. Used motor oil

Plastic Bottles

In BC, plastic beverage containers were recovered at a rate of nearly 74% in 2021.  All were sold to a Canadian recycler of plastic material and shipped to their facilities in British Columbia and Alberta. It is then cleaned and turned into pellets so that it can become raw material for manufacturers of various plastic products, including new containers, strapping, and fibres.

Common FAQs

Have a question about the world of waste reduction, recycling, or circular economy? Check out our FAQs!

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.

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No. Broken glass is hazardous to the workers who collect and sort your recyclables.

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Empty refillable and non-refillable propane tanks are accepted at most landfills and transfer stations for recycling as scrap metal.

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Empty aerosol spray cans, including those for food, air fresheners, shaving cream, hairspray and textile sprays, are included in a provincial recycling program, managed by Recycle BC. To ensure that any excess residue is eliminated, hold down the can’s nozzle and spray out the contents into an old rag until you do not hear any sound, not even air. Once the aerosol can is empty, many municipalities accept these items in the curbside recycling bin. For residents who do not have this option, these cans can be recycled free of charge at a number of recycling depots across the province. For more information on this program, visit the Recycle BC website, or contact the RCBC Recycling Hotline.

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Many municipalities provide blue boxes or bags to their residents, provided that the recycling pick-up service is provided by your city. Many multi-family complexes receive pick-up from a private contractor due to different property tax structures.

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Resources

RCBC is treasure trove of information from local government and industry data, to research happening right here at home, to best practices around the world. Take a look at our library, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, give us a call.