Why Plastic Recycling in Canada is Better Than You Think (And How To Recycle Like a Champ!)

Maybe you’ve heard whisperings on social media or in the news that plastic recycling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That may be the case in some parts of the world, but Canada is in the middle of a big recycling revolution - and our home province of British Columbia is leading the way!

Plastic Recycling in BC

Did you know that BC has one of the highest recovery rates of beverage containers in North America? Last year, 85.8% of all recyclable paper and packaging materials were recovered in BC, including 64% of rigid plastic materials (like bottles). That number has been going up every year, thanks to our awesome centralized recycling system.

Wondering where all that plastic ends up? More than 97% of plastic collected is processed right here in BC. It’s broken down into plastic pellets in Vancouver, and then turned into new packaging and products - using up 86% less energy than manufacturing new plastic. 


Why Our System Works

The main reason we have high recovery rates is because BC has the country’s best Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recycling program. Don’t live in BC? Ontario is currently strengthening its EPR program, and other provinces are following suit right now.

EPR programs like RecycleBC centralize and streamline recycling, creating one big, efficient system instead of relying on municipalities to figure out (and fund) their own recycling programs. RecycleBC is funded exclusively by producers (like Rumble!), who contribute each year based on the amount of packaging material they sell. So, for all of the Rumble bottles and cardboard boxes we distribute, we pay a fee to help cover the costs of recycling. 

We love it, because having a well-funded, province-wide recycling system creates a stronger ‘circular economy’ for recyclable materials, making it more likely that everything from Rumble bottles to granola bar wrappers get recycled. 


Going Beyond: Solving Ocean Plastic

Of course, we should all do our best to reduce the amount of plastic we consume. When we had no choice but to move Rumble Supershake into a plastic bottle, we knew we wanted to do more than just contribute to local recycling programs. 

To help further compensate for our plastic footprint, we partnered with Plastic Bank. For every Rumble bottle we sell, we not only pay into Canada’s EPR programs, but we also contribute to Plastic Bank to help cover the costs of recovering plastic from the world’s waterways. 


How to Recycle Even Better

Want to be a recycling champ? No matter where you live, there are a few things you can do to ensure your recyclables have their best chance at a new life:

1. Clean before you recycle: when recyclable materials get sent to the landfill, it’s often because they’re ‘contaminated’ by too much leftover food. Clean recyclables are higher quality, which makes them easier to market locally and internationally. So, take the 5 seconds to clean your jars or containers before they go in the bin - it’s worth it!

2. Sort accurately: the other big cause of contamination? Mixed materials. It’s harder to recycle a big load of plastic if there’s foil or paper mixed in. Take the time to separate out and prepare your recyclables, as directed by your local recycling program.

3. Know your materials: Did you know that in BC, you can recycle MOST flexible plastic packaging, even if it doesn’t have a recycling symbol on it?  That includes plastic food pouches, ziplock bags, shrink wrap, even chocolate bar wrappers! (See full list here). Do the research to find out what your local depots collect, and watch your garbage shrink.

4. Push for better recycling programs: EPR recycling systems are just getting started in many parts of Canada. Let your representatives know that you’re supportive, and want to see plans to improve recycling targets and recovery rates in the years ahead.