5 recycling myths: Busted

Get the facts—and boost your recycling power in the process!

By Recycle BC
5 recycling myths: Busted
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In a perfect world, everyone would always put waste exactly where it belongs. While BC residents are some of the best recyclers on the continent (nice work!), recycling myths—which can cause confusion, skepticism and even apathy—continue to circulate. Knowing the facts helps inform and empower you and your family, so you can recycle with ease, and feel confident you’re making a difference for yourselves, your neighbourhood and the planet at large.

So, let’s clear the air!

Myth #1: When in doubt, just throw it out.

Busted!: Yikes! Recyclable packaging and paper items shouldn’t be thrown in the garbage. It may feel easier or more convenient, but doing so further overwhelms already enormous landfills, and exposes wildlife and ecosystems to harmful materials (like plastic) that could otherwise have been safely recycled and turned into something new.

Instead, when in doubt about what you can recycle, just tap into Recycle BC’s wide array of resources! From a super-handy mobile app (for iOS or Android), to a comprehensive materials list that breaks down what goes where, the answers are right at your fingertips. Recycle BC accepts more materials than other programs in the country, and its list of accepted materials is consistent across the province. You can quickly and easily find out what you can recycle curbside, what needs to be dropped off at a depot and, yes, even what can’t be recycled and should be tossed into your garbage.

Myth #2: Anything made of plastic can go in my recycling bin.

Busted!: Not quite. While most types of hard plastic packaging can be included in your home bins, soft plastics (e.g., plastic bags, the overwrap packaging on toilet-paper rolls) and flexible plastic packaging (e.g., stand-up zipper-lock pouches, crinkly candy wrappers) need to be dropped off at one of Recycle BC’s 275+ depots, including any BC London Drugs store. The same goes for foam packaging (e.g., takeout-food containers, foam protective packaging around electronics). As with myth #1, if you’re not sure where your plastic packaging or foam should go, check first so you can put it in the right place.

Myth #3: Food and drink containers have to be spotless before they can be recycled.

Busted!: How clean does your recycling really need to be? Clean? Yes. Completely spotless? No. Bottles, containers and jars should be rinsed to remove as much residue as possible before they’re added to your recycling. This helps reduce odours, pests and messes; prevents cross-contamination of your recycling items; and ensures the containers can be effectively recycled. A speedy swish with some dishwater and your containers should be good to go.

Myth #4: Sorting my recycling is a hassle and isn’t really important.

Busted!: On the contrary, sorting your recycling items and waste properly is fast, easy and super-important! Not only does it ensure the integrity of Recycle BC’s residential-collection service, ensuring your packaging and paper is effectively managed and recycled, it ensures the safety of all those working to recycle your materials. Not accepted—and potentially dangerous—materials (e.g., batteries, propane canisters, scrap metal, garbage) that should be collected through other programs, need to be disposed of properly. Items like batteries pose a huge fire risk to facilities and the people who work there. To keep everything moving safely and smoothly, take a few seconds to sort your recycling properly, please.

Myth #5: It doesn’t matter if I recycle. Everything just winds up in landfill, anyway.


Busted!: This pesky rumour has been around since the dawn of recycling, even though it’s patently false. In fact, Recycle BC has one of the best packaging and paper recycling programs in North America, effectively managing roughly 90% of all collected materials by recycling. Collected items are sorted, and and sold to (verified and approved) end markets to be processed into raw materials, to be made into new packaging or products, such food containers, garden nursery pots, or products used by clothing manufacturers for fibres and more—and almost all of the plastics are processed in BC itself.

The truth is: Every effort you and your family make to recycle properly has a positive impact! And the more residents understand about the recycling process, the less waste is sent to landfills, the fewer virgin materials are used in manufacturing, and the more your community can recycle. By reducing and recycling, BC residents are helping our oceans and our environment.

For more information on how to level-up your recycling, visit Recycle BC.

Recycle BC is a not-for-profit organization responsible for residential packaging and paper recycling throughout British Columbia, servicing over 1.8 million households or over 98% of BC through curbside, multi-family and/or depot services. Recycle BC is funded by businesses, like retailers, manufacturers and restaurants that supply packaging and paper to BC residents, shifting costs away from homeowners.

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