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Can I Recycle This Container?

Some Surprising Answers!

By:
Betty H|
June 11, 2020

‘Can I recycle this container?’ is a question we often get asked. It seems that everyone knows you can recycle plastic bottles, pop cans and beer bottles in BC for a deposit refund. But did you know that most of these items shown below can be recycled for cash?

Juice Boxes Containers Of All Sizes

Juice boxes can all be recycled, and you receive a deposit refund for all of them. How much you get back depends on the size of the box. The refunds are 10 cents per container, so it can add up! If your family drinks a lot of juice you could be throwing money out the window if you don’t recycle these!

The juice category includes things like drink pouches, juice cups, larger juice cartons (gable tops) and the convenience-sized juice containers.

 

Can I recycle this container

Did you know that Drink Pouches only have a 25.5% recovery rate* in all of BC? That means that 74.5% of all drink pouches are not recycled. That’s nearly 5 million drink pouches each year that are thrown in the trash. If one person was to collect all those missing pouches, they would make close to $500,000 in one year! 

Don’t care about the cash back? Donate your containers to a friend, local binner or bring them on your next trip to the depot to drop them off at our charity donation bins.

A helpful tip: you can squeeze these juice boxes into a smaller size. (As long as the container isn’t so crushed that it’s not recognizable, and the bar code is still visible, it’ll be refundable.) This makes it pretty easy to collect enough to make a trip to the recycle depot worth your while. 

Juice Cans over 1 Liter

One Litre juice cartons and juice bottles are worth 10 cents a piece, so bring them in to double-up on your refund. 

Encorp’s rules are pretty strict about the labels – they have to be left on if you want a deposit refund on your juice tins. The smaller juice tins are also recyclable and are worth 10 cents a piece, so don’t forget to collect those as well.

On a separate note, did you know that the glass Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee drinks are worth 10 cents each? It’s a new deposit item listed in Encorp’s Brand Registry. Visit returnit.ca if you want to learn more about all the containers that have a deposit value in BC.  

Wine Boxes / BAG-IN-BOX

Yes, that’s right. Wine in a box containers are recyclable too, and you get 10 cents each when you bring them in for recycling. It adds up when you and your friends have a bunch kicking around from a lazy beach day!

Like all liquor containers you purchase in BC – beer bottles, wine bottles and liquor bottles – you pay a recycling fee when you buy it from a liqour store. So, that means you get that money back when you return the containers for recycling, just like you do with plastic and glass beer bottles, wine bottles and liquor bottles. The good news is that at Regional Recycling, we pay the full refund for all beverage containers – including beer bottles & cans. 

The reason why we highlighted Bag-In-Box containers is because they only have a 49.1% recovery rate* in the entire province. That means over 2 million non-alcoholic bag-in-boxes are not recycled each year. Let’s help change that by recovering this valuable resource, diverting it from landfills, and earning some extra cash along the way. 

Can I recycle this?

Milk & Milk Substitute Containers

This is where things get a bit complicated. Currently there are no refund values associated with most milk & milk substitute containers. This will change soon, as the Government of BC is drafting new regulations through their Clean BC Action Plan to include a deposit on all these containers – just like our neighboring province Alberta has been doing since 2008.

Here’s how you can tell if you can get money back for your dairy container: if Milk is ingredient #1, 2 or 3: the product is NOT deposit bearing. If Milk is ingredient #4 or higher: then the product should carry a deposit. So if you have a Milk Tea on hand, look at the ingredients and see if milk is the 4th or 5th ingredient. If it is, you’re in luck – it’s worth at least 10 cents! 

If you have containers with the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd listed as milk – don’t worry – we’ll still accept them. Since these containers are recyclable, bring them to us the next time you do your other recycling. We will happily take small quantities of these empty drinks.

What containers can I recycle?

Were you adding things up in your head as you read this info? I spoke with some of my friends after I wrote this, and they claim that their families would toss away $25-50 a month into the curbside blue bins. That amount certainly adds up, and can help with extra food and grocery bills for example.

While throwing these containers in the blue bins is not ideal – as community groups, charities, and friends lose out on the opportunity to use those funds – many people don’t know that these containers are recyclable, and end up throwing them in the garbage!

Next time you ask yourself “Can I recycle this container?” remember to save this link and share with your family & friends, so they can learn some recycling tips to earn more cash the next time they visit a Regional Recycling depot.

* The provincial recovery rates and containers not recovered are based on Encorp’s 2018 Annual Report 

COMMENTS

42 Comments

  1. Kelly

    The question keeps coming up with coffee containers. Many people will still throw them in the waisting containers. Will all that change?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Kelly, great question! While ultimately the goal is that every beverage container is part of the refund program, currently there are some containers that are not. The hope would be that in the future they are. You can recycle coffee cups at locations that offer the Recycle BC program.

      Reply
      • Sue

        What about 1. Tiny yogurt plastic Drink containers by danone and activia. 2. Non dairy milk substitute drink containers, some are gable top or juice box style but seem excluded even though not dairy. 3. Coffee foil bag in box such as starbucks.

        Reply
        • Betty H

          Hi Sue – Thanks for checking on this. Tiny yogurt and non-dairy milk are addressed in the Milk and Milk Subsitiutes section of the article. The large foil in a box containers can be brought in when you recycle your refundable containers with us, but they have no refund value.

          Reply
  2. Kate

    I’d like to be able to add my glass jars to the express recycle as my area doesn’t take them in the blue bins. Express drop off is very convenient during this time

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Kate, All of our lower mainland locations offer a fast drop solution – we’ll sort and count for you and let you know when your refund is ready for pickup. Our Nanaimo locations are the only locations that accept household glass jars. The RCBC Recycling Hotline will be able to point you in the right direction to recycle them in other areas of the province. https://www.rcbc.ca/

      Reply
  3. Linda Reed

    Can we return w/o refund imported American beer bottles and cans??

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Linda, You can bring those items in with your other beverage containers. No refund will be paid, but they will be recycled. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Artemesia Minichiello

    Does oat milk count as milk? I believe it has no content that is dairy milk?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Artemesia, Milk substitutes are currently categorized with milk. While the containers can all be recycled, you don’t pay a deposit on them and they are not eligible for a refund.

      Reply
  5. Blair F

    When returning WINE BOXES / BAG-IN-BOX, are they to be kept as is or bags separated and boxes flattened?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Blair, Thanks for checking. You can bring those in as they are. Look forward to seeing you soon.

      Reply
  6. Jack

    Yogurt and laundry and dish soap containers???

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi, Yogurt containers can be recycled at all of our depots. We don’t recycle laundry and dish soap containers. You can check with the RCBC Recycling Hotline for where to recycle those items. 604-RECYCLE (604-732-9253)

      Reply
  7. Velma

    If you want to get rid of glass jam jars or the like you can take them to thrif store drop offs as they usually have customers looking for them.

    Reply
    • Betty H

      That’s a great way to reuse those!

      Reply
  8. Blair Friesen

    Should the WINE BOXES / BAG-IN-BOX be separated and flattened, or just kept fully intact?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      You can bring those in to us as they are, thank you for checking.

      Reply
  9. Laura

    What about vegetable or chicken/beef broth cartons?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Great question Laura. While made of the same material and we can recycle them for you, they are not a part of the deposit system so cannot be returned for a deposit refund. Bring them in when you are recycling your refundable beverage containers with us!

      Reply
      • Diana Hernandez

        Do you recycle propane tanks?

        Reply
        • Betty H

          Hi Diana, Unfortunately we do not take propane tanks for recycling. You can check with the RCBC Recycling Hotline to find a location where you can recycle: https://www.rcbc.ca/services/recycling-hotline

          You can also call them at: 604-RECYCLE (604-732-9253)

          We look forward to seeing you at the depot.

          Reply
  10. Susan Nikolic

    Where and how do I recycle those aluminum pull tabs from pop cans? Does it go by weight? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Susan, if you have a sufficient quantity you can recycle them at any of our depots as scrap metal. Abbotsford, Burnaby, Cloverdale and Richmond all purchase scrap metal. Our other depots accept scrap metal for recycling, but do not purchase. We look forward to seeing you.

      Reply
  11. scooter

    How about the new green takeout containers that more businesses seem to be using rather than styrofoam (I thought the change was because BC started banning styrofoam containers and requiring take-out containers be recyclable). The containers look like a cross between styrofoam and pressed paper and often have an imprint of leaves on them to signify that they are a green product but they also have a #5 in the recycle triangle which means they can’t be recycled in BC without specific sorting. I’m seeing these more and more and it seems like it’s no improvement over styrofoam.

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Scooter, thanks for checking on this. We don’t take food containers in our mainland locations. Recycle BC is responsible for this type of packaging – perhaps they can help you locate an answer to this.

      Reply
  12. Kathryn Heyes

    What a great service this email provides! My husband forwarded it to me as I did not receive one. I hope that you will send me updates at the email address below. Thanks again, our family is really keen on recycling!
    Kathryn Heyes

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Kathryn. Thank you SO much!! We’re so grateful you took time out to let us know that you found some valuable information. We’ll add you to our email 🙂 And, thank you for your dedication to recycling! Have a great weekend.

      Reply
  13. Travis Taylor

    Hello! I was wondering where I can recycle 2 Litre Pop carriers?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Travis. Is this the carrier that holds 8 of the 2L pop bottles? If yes, try checking with where you got it or the product maker, as we can’t recycle at our facilities.

      Reply
  14. Justin H

    I live in Surrey and frequently use the express return-it system since I have finally found an honest depot.

    But I keep getting flagged and am becoming paranoid about what I can include in my bags.

    I have been told I will be banned if I get one more flag.

    I now know I cannot include oat milk and that sort of thing.

    I’m sitting here staring at a smoothie bottle.

    Top 3 ingredients:
    Protein base
    Cane sugar
    Coconut cream

    Do I get banned for returning this? Clearly no dairy but I have been fooled repeatedly

    Maybe there is a number on the barcode I can look at?

    Thankyou.

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Justin, our FAST DROP solution is not a part of the Return-it Express program, but is a separate program that works a little differently. We pay you full deposit for your containers, do not charge penalties and provide funds through our contact-free ATM when your refund is ready for pickup. The best way to know if a container is allowed in the system (has a deposit) is to check the Return-It Brand locator page: https://www.return-it.ca/registeredbrands/ This will tell you if a container has a refund value. We look forward to seeing you at one of our depots.

      Reply
  15. Lisa

    We use the depots in Nanaimo. I’m confused by the soft plastic recycling, bags and wraps. I know we’re supposed to separate them now but am not clear how. Can you elaborate?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Lisa, Our Nanaimo locations do take residential soft plastic for recycling. (Our other locations do not) For more information on what can be recycled and how, please go to RecycleBC’s website; https://recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle/

      We look forward to seeing you at the depot.

      Reply
  16. Peter

    I note that Starbucks glass containers can be returned, when will you accept Tim’s juice containers?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Peter, thanks for recycling!

      The containers that are accepted are determined by the producer (in this case Tim’s) and the Steward for that product (Encorp is the Steward for beverage containers). Tim’s is part of the recycling program. You can see the specific containers that can be recycled and instructions on the Encorp Brand Registry pages: https://www.return-it.ca/registeredbrands?Se=38&Rn=2101&St=T#results

      We look forward to seeing you at the depot.

      Reply
  17. Rick

    Where can I recycle my blue water jugs?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Rick, Unfortunately we do not take your item for recycling. You can check with the RCBC Recycling Hotline to find a location where you can recycle: https://www.rcbc.ca/services/recycling-hotline

      You can also call them at: 604-RECYCLE (604-732-9253)

      We look forward to seeing you at the depot.

      Reply
  18. Cindy

    Can cider cans be put in the beer cans
    Are pop cans separated from the beer cans?

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Cindy, thanks for checking in on this. Alcohol and non-alcohol are separated from each other. Alcohol containers can be grouped together.

      Reply
  19. Jennifer

    I just got back from Lee’s Bottle Depot and was told that my 5 over 1L bottles of milk tea (from Kirin and Mine Shine) cannot be returned. However, T&T charged me $0.20 deposit for each of them. Although it is only $1 but I feel robbed. I cannot wait for the new regulations on milk containers.

    Reply
    • Betty H

      Hi Jennifer. While we cannot comment about Lee’s Bottle Depot as they are not one of our depots, we can share the Encorp Brand Directory that lists all of the brands that are accepted in the bottle refund program. You can look up each of your container types by brand name to determine if they are eligible for a refund prior to your taking the containers into the depot.

      Reply

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