Vancouver recycling


Vancouver, BC, Canada’s (pop. 603,502) “Greenest City 2020 Action Plan” aims to reduce 2008 landfilled/incinerated solid waste levels by 50% in the next seven years. It’s a monumental task, indeed, but few cities in North America have Vancouver’s dedication to achieving green success. The city’s plan includes the expansion of its curbside program to incorporate all household food waste and the development of education and enforcement programs to help tick up recycling rates. The city is even working to advocate more extended producer responsibility programs for packaging. But, can British Columbia’s largest city — long known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world — reach its lofty goal in such a short timeframe and become known as a recycling icon? In Vancouver, single-family houses and duplexes rely on the use of a recycling “blue box” to collect metals, plastics and glass at the curb. Newsprint is collected in a separate blue bag. Other paper products go into a yellow bag. Apartment and condo buildings use three separate blue carts to collect the items previously mentioned.

Materials recycled

Paper Accepted in the yellow bag: magazines, catalogs, junk mail, writing paper, envelopes, paperboard, cardboard (flattened and cut to fit in the bag), phone books, clean pizza boxes, paper egg cartons, giftwrap and cards. Accepted in the blue bag: newspapers, inserts and flyers. Lay both of these bags on their sides next to the blue box. Plastics Plastic bottles, jugs and tubs numbered 1, 2, 4 and 5 can go in the blue box. All items must be rinsed and flattened. Plastic lids are not accepted. Plastic bags and Styrofoam are not accepted. Metals Metal cans, aluminum foil and aluminum containers are accepted in the blue box if clean. Flatten as much as possible. Metal lids are not accepted. Glass Glass jars and bottles (no lids) may be placed in the blue box.


Curbside recycling pick-up occurs on a weekly basis thanks to a new initiative that begins in spring 2013. Boxes and bags must be placed curbside by 7 a.m. on day of pick-up, and must be at least 3 feet from any obstructions. A collection schedule and map are available online.

Other programs

Vancouver’s new green bin program, which introduces curbside pick-up every week, allows Vancouverites a proper way to dispose of food scraps (including meat, fish, bones, cooked food and oily food, dairy, pasta, noodles, rice,  bread, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, teabags and eggshells), food-soiled paper (including pizza boxes, paper napkins and paper bags used to collect food scraps), leaves, grass clippings, weeds, plants and flowers and short branches and prunings (less than 10 cm thick, and less than 1.5 feet long). The city provides unlimited leaf collection from October 1 to January 31. Leaves can be placed in the green bin or in store-bought garbage receptacles or biodegradable paper yard waste bags. Christmas tree collection runs from the holiday through January 31 each year. Trees can be left beside green bins at the curb, or dropped off at the Vancouver Landfill (5400 72nd St. in Delta, BC, Canada) or South Vancouver Transfer Station (377 W. Kent Ave. N.) There are also safe-dumping measures in place for drywall, yard and wood waste and mattresses.

More information

Visit the City of Vancouver Waste Disposal and Recycling page for more recycling program info.