The number of items British Columbians can drop in their blue recycling bin ballooned this week after the B.C. government expanded its recycling program to include everything from plastic plates, cutlery and clothes hangers to aluminum foil.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the latest changes are meant to fill holes in federal exemptions and are separate from a national ban on manufacturing and importing single-use plastics that came into effect Dec. 20, 2022.
"This expanded materials list will allow more material to be recycled, keep it out of landfills and stop it from littering the environment," said Tamara Burns, Recycle BC's executive director, in a written statement.
Regulatory changes that allow single-use plastic items and packaging into the province's recycling system were announced in 2020, giving industry two years to prepare.
In a press release, the ministry said the latest changes under the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan are effective immediately. Newly accepted blue-box items include:
- plastic plates, bowls and cups;
- plastic cutlery, straws and stir sticks;
- plastic food storage containers;
- plastic hangers (that come with clothing);
- paper plates, bowls and cups (with thin plastic lining);
- plastic tape dispensers;
- aluminum foil;
- aluminum-foil baking dishes and pie plates; and
- metal storage tins (thin gauge).
The number of items that can now be recycled in B.C. has expanded far beyond the blue box. People visiting a dedicated recycling depot in the province will now be able to recycle plastic sandwich and freezer bags, plastic wrap, bubble wrap and even the plastic bags handed out to residents to drop recyclables on the curb.
Other items now accepted at depots include:
- Foam bowls and cups;
- Squishy cushion packaging;
- And plastic reusable shopping bags.
B.C. is planning to expand producer responsibility programs, which shifts the cost of collection and recycling to manufacturers, distributors and retailers over the life cycle of their products.
Every year in B.C., such programs capture roughly 315,000 tonnes of plastics, from packaging and electronics to beverage containers.
Over the coming years, British Columbians will have options to recycle mattresses, single-use camping fuel canisters and fire extinguishers, electric-vehicle batteries and sharp medical objects like syringes, according to a five-year action plan.
A complete list of what can be recycled in B.C. can be found on Recycle BC's website.