Recycling plastics: your municipality accepts more than you think!

First published on November 6, 2008

Many municipalities in Canada have a recycling program. In blue and/or yellow bags, as well as blue boxes, you can put out your recyclable items every week to be picked up. Therefore, you probably know that many types of paper are recyclable, with some municipalities even banning paper from being included in garbage bins. (And speaking of paper, don’t forget that you can recycle envelopes with clear windows, pizza boxes, and the tubes inside toilet paper rolls.) You can also recycle glass jars and metal cans.

However, you might not know that many types of plastic can be recycled, as long as you clean them. Your guide to the types of plastics are the codes marked on the packaging:

Plastic recycle codes

Some plastic packaging do not indicate their types, but there are many websites (such as this one) that give examples of packaging that fit the recycling codes.

Burnaby and Vancouver both accept plastic types 1, 2, 4, and 5. Edit: seems like both of those cities only take plastic containers of those types now? Be sure to check with your municipality! Examples that fit these types include:

  • plastic shopping bags
  • shrink wrap
  • bottle caps
  • yogurt containers
  • transparent candy wrapping
  • containers for toiletries

Delta accepts plastics 1 through 7, which means that you can also include:

  • shampoo bottles
  • coffee cups
  • plastic egg cartons
  • meat trays
  • disposable utensils
  • drinking straws
  • ketchup bottles
  • all that plastic packaging on electronics

Check out your municipality’s website to see which plastic types you can recycle.

Aaaand, remember. Recycling is actually the third best option. First, use less. Then, re-use items. Then, look at your recycling options. Retail stores and recycling depots accept many things that the municipalities don’t, such as batteries.


12 Responses to “Recycling plastics: your municipality accepts more than you think!”

  1. Derek says:

    Here’s something I’ve always wondered…

    We have the giant blue recycling bins for our building (condo) that separate the recyleables into 3 type – paper, newspaper and "containers". The containers one encompasses most types of plastic/glass – but I know there are exclusions on there too. For exmaple, I think it says no #7 plastics.

    Anyway, do people sort through these things at the recycling depot, and would it be the end of the world if some of the non-accepted things end up in there? Although we use cloth bags for grocercies, we inevitably end up with some plastic bags – half of which are the recyleable variety and the other half are biodegradeable. I try to be careful about making sure they end up in the proper place, but what if they don’t?

  2. Thom says:

    Didn’t know you were recyclable, Pete :D

  3. Peter says:

    Yes, they do sort through the items, although don’t count on misplaced items being diverted to other recycling facilities (i.e. if it doesn’t apply, they might just toss it). Just do your best :)

  4. Mr Montreal says:

    I’m taking care of the recycling for my building. It’s amazing what people will throw into the recycling bins. Sometime, I even take wood pieces out of it. I wish I could find a good way to educate people as to what is recyclable and what is not…

  5. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the tips, Peter! I didn’t realize that even pizza boxes were recyclable – that’s great!

  6. Mike says:

    I got excited when i saw that you could recycle plastic shopping bags here in vancouver, but looked into it further and discovered that you’re unfortunately mistaken.

    plastic bags are always in the "unacceptable material" sections, oh well

  7. Peter says:

    Hi Mike, sorry about that. Plastic bags are supposed to be plastic types 2 and 4, so maybe it’s just containers of those types that are accepted. However, I have noticed that several grocery stores, such as the Changes recycling depot at Save-On Foods, will recycle plastic bags.

  8. Eva says:

    Why does it say on the Vancouver recyling site that they will take plastic plant pots and plastic hanging basket pots and when you take them to the Kent Avenue recycling depot they refuse to take them? Where can one dispose of them then?

    Reply from Peter: what about the regular residential garbage collection?

  9. Peter Bissada says:

    We will take the bags if you drop it off at our shop in Richmond. @ Unit 3 – 2480 Shell Rd. If you have any questions call us @

  10. James says:

    I took a plastic bag full of plastic bags to the Kent recycling station a while ago and was told it was to be taken to a Safeway or similar grocery store or a private recycling depot.

  11. Mike says:

    Peter can you advise me to what recycle code would be used for polycarbonate safety glasses? We are distributing safety glasses that do not have any metal screws in them and we want to make sure we have the correct recycle mark on them. I believe it is either 5 or 7. Thank you in advance for your time Mike

    Reply from Peter: Sorry, I don’t know the answer. Perhaps check with your manufacturer?

  12. Carol says:

    Hi Peter,

    I’m a green person and I recycle everything that can be recycled. I started working in an electronic company since this February and notice that the cardboard and scrap metal is collected regularly by a recycling company. But, the plastic bags and wraps are not collected and eventually all our co-workers throw them into the garbage cans. I asked the management and was told that they guy in charge of this left the company and no one taking care of this now.

    I collected these bags and store in boxes in my home and I am looking for a recycling company that can take these bags. They are poly film, clear bags for the electronics components most of them marked recyclable. Please let me know can I drop off to you regularly.


    Reply from Peter: Hi Carol, unfortunately I don’t live in a municipality that collects all types of plastics anymore. Whereabouts are you located? Is there a municipal recycling dump nearby? Or perhaps someone else will see this message who can help!

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