Recycling in the RDEK


CLICK HERE to view the holiday hours at RDEK Transfer Stations, Landfills and Offices

In early 2019, a survey of East Kootenay residents showed that while the vast majority of respondents recycled and were satisfied or very happy with the current system, one item there was strong support for was:

  • expanding the availability of recycling throughout the region

This year, we have opened Recycle BC Depots at the Cranbrook & Kimberley Transfer Stations and Columbia Valley Landfill. The Cranbrook Bottle Depot also has a Recycle BC Depot. These depots take all the same materials as can go in the yellow bins - plus over 76 additional items! PLUS, it saves your taxpayer dollars (see Q&As for an explanation)...it's a win, win!

In addition, there is a Regional Household Hazardous Waste Depot at the Cranbrook Transfer Station.

Recycle BC Depots are scheduled to open in the Elk Valley early in 2020.

To view or download information on the new Recycle BC Depots or the more general Recycling Directory for your area, check out the links in the Document Library.


CLICK HERE to view the holiday hours at RDEK Transfer Stations, Landfills and Offices

In early 2019, a survey of East Kootenay residents showed that while the vast majority of respondents recycled and were satisfied or very happy with the current system, one item there was strong support for was:

  • expanding the availability of recycling throughout the region

This year, we have opened Recycle BC Depots at the Cranbrook & Kimberley Transfer Stations and Columbia Valley Landfill. The Cranbrook Bottle Depot also has a Recycle BC Depot. These depots take all the same materials as can go in the yellow bins - plus over 76 additional items! PLUS, it saves your taxpayer dollars (see Q&As for an explanation)...it's a win, win!

In addition, there is a Regional Household Hazardous Waste Depot at the Cranbrook Transfer Station.

Recycle BC Depots are scheduled to open in the Elk Valley early in 2020.

To view or download information on the new Recycle BC Depots or the more general Recycling Directory for your area, check out the links in the Document Library.

Have a question about what goes where? Want clarification on recycling?  Leave your question here and we will get it answered as quickly as we can!

Q&A

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  • Are you sure about the frozen juice container answer "they go in the plastic/metal containers? they are more cardboard than anything and it can be separated from the metal top and bottom,

    Joe asked 7 days ago

    Yes - they go in the containers bin.  The way spiral bound cans is processed has changed and is not the same as straight paper or cardboard fibre.  As a result, all spiral bound cans for things like frozen juice concentrate, potato chips, cookie dough, coffee, etc. go in the containers bin.  You will soon see some changes to the signage to help add clarity (we are just waiting on the new signs to arrive).


  • Can rubber yoga mats be recycled?

    Leanne jones asked 7 days ago

    Unfortunately not at this time and should be placed in the garbage if they are no longer usable.  If you purchase a new one, the packaging it comes in (usually clear plastic wrap) can be recycled at any Recycle BC Depot.

  • Into which new category do spiral wound cans like frozen juice containers go? Also Is there an updated printable sheet of the categories like the one sent out by email last year? I see there's a new sort for milk cartons.

    Confused in the columbia valley asked 10 days ago

    Great question! They go in the Plastic/Metal Containers bin (for all plastic & metal containers).  We will be publishing an updated guide in the next two weeks as there has been a slight update in the way cartons/hot & cold beverage cups are processed.  We are waiting for the signage and once it is in place - we will be posting and distributing updated guides.  Feel free to check back to this site in a week or two!  If you are in the RDEK's email group, it will also be emailed out as soon as it is ready.

  • I saw a CBC Marketplace investigation that tracked recycling from GFL to a waste to energy facility. I see the bright green GFL bins popping up around the RDEK. Does any of the RDEK recycling being handled by GFL go to a waste to energy facility?

    Darby asked 15 days ago

    Here is what happens to the plastics collected through the Yellow Bin Program and the Recycle BC Depots we operate:

    Yellow Bins (collected and marketed on behalf of RDEK under contract by GFL):

    • sold to Merlin Plastics in BC, who process both post-consumer and post-industrial plastics into pellets or flakes (depending on type). We collect numbers 1-6 in the yellow bins.  Once they are pelletized or flaked, the plastics industry uses the product to manufacture new products. Some of the items that our plastics get turned into: plastic bottles for a range of food and consumer products such as shampoo and detergent; pipes; fibre-fill for pillows, comforters, sleeping bags; carpets; ski jacket fill; cases (like cd covers); garden potting pots.

    Recycle BC Depots accept a much wider range of plastics and they are processed as follows:

    • Plastic containers and plastic bags and overwrap collected remain in BC, with a local end-market in Metro Vancouver that processes this material into pellets that can be manufactured into new packaging and other products. The contractor is Merlin plastics and 99% of the plastics go here. 
    • Foam packaging is recycled locally in Metro Vancouver and overseas. Styrofoam that goes overseas (which accounts for 1% of the total plastics) is sent to Malaysia to a company where it is used in the production of picture frames. Recycle BC has visited the company and verified its end use.
    • Other Flexible Plastic Packaging is collected as part of a research and development project to determine how best this material can be recycled. During this time, material that is unable to be recycled will be recovered and produced into engineered fuel.

    Every municipality/regional district will have a different program and we hope this helps you understand how your plastics are handled here. It is important to understand the Marketplace story was focused on one-time-business sales,  does not reflect the public recycling programs of regional districts/municipalities or provincially regulated EPR Programs (such as Recycle BC) and is misleading.  The Recycle BC program is regulated by the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, is audited by a third party, and produces annual reports detailing its activities.



  • Hello, I am glad that you now accept more categories of materials for recycling but find it difficult to organize my recycling to match the bins that are available. If I'm reading your website correctly there are 7 categories of recycling. So I can organize my home recycling bins and save time at the depot, can you tell me which categories can go in the same bins? Below I've listed the categories I pulled from your website. Thank you. 1. COLOURED/PRINTED STYROFOAM 2. WHITE STYROFOAM 3. PLASTIC BAGS & OVERWRAP 4. PLASTIC & METAL CONTAINERS 5. GLASS CONTAINERS 6. FLEXIBLE PACKAGING 7. PAPER & CARDBOARD PRODUCTS

    Jason asked 9 days ago

    There are many different ways to sort - but here are a couple of approaches that we have found helpful:

    System 1 - put a cardboard divider in a regular rectangular recycling bin

    • Place all paper/cardboard on one side and containers on the other (both plastic and metal). This will be the bulk of your recycling.
    • Use a reusable bag or a second bin for styrofoam, glass and flexible packaging (you can easily drop these items in the bins from one container as they do not generally add up as quickly as the other two categories). 
    • You can also stuff a plastic bag with all your plastic bags/overwrap and just drop it in the right bin.

    System 2 - keep two large bins and a couple of smaller bins set up in an area like a garage / utility closet

    • larger bin for paper/cardboard/fibre
    • larger bin for containers (plastic and metal)
    • small bin for Styrofoam - you can separate into the right totes on site
    • small bin for glass
    • small bin for flexible packaging - with a bag for plastics / overwrap (keep bags and overwrap in the bag and just drop the whole thing in the plastic bag/overwrap tote on site)

    We will be posting some videos in mid-February with tips and ideas for sorting - so check back next month for more ideas.  In the meantime, if you come up with a system that works well for you, please let us know so we can share it!

  • Where can I recycle printer cartridges near Fernie?

    Newbie asked 16 days ago

    Fernie Stationers will take ink cartridges for recycling. They are located in Suite D - 591 2nd Avenue. You can phone ahead at 250-423-3610.  If you are in Cranbrook, Staples at the Tamarack Mall has convenient bins located just inside their main doors and is an easy drop off location as well.

  • can #1 and #6 plastics go into yellow bins

    confused asked 15 days ago

    You bet! As long as plastics are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 they can go in the yellow bin.  Each piece must be marked (for example a peanut butter jar will have a different type of plastic used in the container and the lid (so both the container and the lid would need to be numbered.  One other quick note - Styrofoam is a #6 plastic and will be marked #6; however, it is NOT recyclable in the yellow bins (it IS recyclable in all Recycle BC Depots).

    #7 container/packaging plastic, unmarked plastics (those with no lids), zippered pouches, and things like bread bags, ziploc bags, snack bags, chip bags and tubes cannot be recycled in the yellow bins - but can go to the Recycle BC Depots.

  • recycle rotisserie chicken bag

    none asked 18 days ago

    As long as the bag is totally plastic, it should be rinsed and can be taken to your nearest Recycle BC Depot and placed in the tote marked "flexible packaging."  Recycle BC Depots are located at the Cranbrook and Kimberley Transfer Stations, Columbia Valley Landfill, and Cranbrook Bottle Depot. Depots will be opening soon in the Elk Valley.


  • Please tell me where to recycle 2 litre wax /plastic? cartons for orange juice etc. in Kimberley. Can they be recycled or are they considered garbage?

    Pat asked 16 days ago

    Cartons (milk, orange juice, soup, beverage) can be recycled at the Kimberley Transfer Station in the Recycle BC Depot.  We have just been advised of a slight change in the way they are processed, so they should now go into the bin marked plastic and metal containers (as opposed to the paper/cardboard bin).  Thank you for the great question!

  • What do you do with shredded paper?

    Lindy asked 16 days ago

    Shredded paper can go to any Recycle BC Depot (it goes in the paper/cardboard bin).  It is also accepted in the yellow bins; however, we encourage residents to use the Recycle BC Depot nearest them if possible.

  • where to recycle alkaline batteries

    pescado asked about 1 month ago

    It depends on where you live in the East Kootenay - here are some locations:

    • Columbia Valley - Invermere Home Hardware, Selkirk Cellular/Office Supplies, Rona Northstar Hardware, The Source, Invermere
    • Elk Valley - City of Fernie Aquatic Centre, The Source (Fernie), Fernie Bottle Depot, Sparwood Communications, District of Elkford office, Save-On Foods Fernie/Sparwood
    • Cranbrook/Kimberley - Cranbrook Photo, RDEK office,  Staples, Cranbrook Bottle Depot, The Source, Home Hardware, Cranbrook Transfer Station, Kimberley Transfer Station, Telus (on Warren), Kimberley Save-On Foods
  • It has been brought to the attention of our community that black garbage bags are being tossed into the yellow bins. Is this ok?

    Trudy asked 23 days ago

    Great question!  Black garbage bags should NOT be placed in the yellow bins or any other recycling program.  They are garbage. You can always empty the bag into the yellow bin when you get there and reuse it.  The other issue with black garbage bags in yellow bins, is the next person comes and sees a garbage bag and throws their garbage bag full or garbage in.  Please keep all garbage bags out of the recycling - as the name implies, they should be used for garbage.

  • Does everything have to be washed ie: bacon packages plastic wrap from meat trays etc

    Patricia asked 26 days ago

    Plastics, tin cans and any packaging with residue should be rinsed.  This has always been the case, and applies to all recycling (not just the new Recycle BC Depots). 

  • Hello Can you please advise where the recycling products are sent for processing? To another region? Thank you. Jay Nelson, Cranbrook BC

    Jay Nelso asked about 1 month ago

    You bet!

    Both the yellow bin materials and the Recycle BC materials that are collected in the East Kootenay initially go to Cranbrook for processing and shipment.  Here is a breakdown of what goes where in each program.
     
    YELLOW BIN INFORMATION:
     
    In 2018, 3522 metric tonnes of cardboard were shipped and sold to Tacoma or Portland (there are occasionally other places that take some of our loads; however, these two locations are the primary ones for cardboard).  100% of what we ship goes to market – meaning no loads are baled, shipped and then landfilled. All corrugated cardboard and boxboards are included. 
     
    In 2018, 1689 metric tonnes of newspaper and mixed paper were sold at market. Longview has been our primary location; however, there have been other plants that we have used based on availability and demand. All mixed papers are part of the program, and the processing occurs after the product is sold, so I can’t speak to Longview’s process in more detail other than they and their parent company produce paper and packaging and our fibre is used in that production.
     
    In 2018, 231 metric tonnes of plastic were sold to Merlin, who processed both post-consumer and post-industrial plastics into pellets or flakes (depending on type) and .  We collect numbers 1-6 in the yellow bins.  Once they are pelletized or flaked, the plastics industry uses the product to manufacture new products. I can give you a list of some of the items that our plastics get turned into: plastic bottles for a range of food and consumer products such as shampoo and detergent; pipes; fibre-fill for pillows, comforters, sleeping bags; carpets; ski jacket fill; cases (like cd covers); garden potting pots.
     
    Soft drink containers are separated out and returned to Encorp to be captured in the BC Beverage system. Other tin and metal cans are baled and shipped to Ontario. In 2018, 71 metric tonnes were sold.  Again, once they are sold to a processor, I can’t speak to their process for separation; however, can tell you the materials are used in manufacturing of mixed-product metals like chicken wire fencing and batting cages.
     
    100% of the beverage glass collected through the bottle depot system goes to Airdrie Alberta where it is crushed and later sent for processing into the following: pink insulation, mixed into road/sign paint to make it reflective or sold bulk to be sprinkled on wet paint, and mixed with sand to be used in golf course sand traps (if you ever noticed how beautiful and sparkly golf course sand traps are, that’s why!). Our yellow bin glass for many, many years also went to Airdrie; however, the continued contamination and tighter markets eventually led Airdrie to no longer accept our loads. As a result, we have been using the glass on site until we can find another market for it (which is where the Recycle BC Depot opens up a new option so we encourage people to take their glass to the Recycle BC Depot). 
     
    RECYCLE BC DEPOTS
     
    The materials collected in the Recycle BC Depots go to different markets than our yellow bin materials. Here is where they go at this time:

    • Plastic containers and plastic bags and overwrap collected remains in BC, with a local end-market in Metro Vancouver that processes this material into pellets that can be manufactured into new packaging and other products. The contractor is Merlin plastics and 99% of the plastics go here.
    • Glass is shipped to Abbotsford to be processed into new bottles and to Quesnel to be made into sandblast materials.
    • Metal containers are sold to end-markets in BC, Ontario and the United States and can be recycled into new packaging, like aluminum cans, and sheet metal for automotive manufacturing.
    • Paper collected is sold to end-markets overseas, in the United States or in BC and is made into things like egg cartons, boxes, and other paper products.
    • Foam packaging is recycled locally in Metro Vancouver and overseas. Styrofoam that goes overseas (which accounts for 1% of the total plastics) is sent to Malaysia to a company where it is used in the production of picture frames. Recycle BC has visited the company and verified its end use.
    • Other Flexible Plastic Packaging is collected as part of a research and development project to determine how best this material can be recycled. During this time, material that is unable to be recycled will be recovered and produced into engineered fuel. 
    The opening of the Recycle BC Depots not only is providing residents with additional options, but it provides an opportunity to drive recyclables into the provincially regulated EPR program where there are stringent requirements for recycling and managing those products through end-of-life.


  • What is "flexible packaging" and how is it different than "plastic bags and overwrap?"

    about 1 month ago

    1. Plastic Bags - include any pure plastic bag (so it doesn't have a zipper for example). Grocery bags, produce bags, the bags that hold frozen peas and corn (with no zipper) are examples of plastic bags.

    2. Overwrap - is any plastic that goes OVER products. For example, the wrapping over toilet paper, paper towel, flats of pop, etc. is overwrap.

    3. Flexible packaging includes types of film and flexible plastics that often have multiple layers of different types of plastic. They often have a zipper or a crinkly-feel and a good rule of thumb (though not perfect) is that if it TOUCHES food, it's likely in the flexible packaging category. If it has a zipper, it's also flexible packaging.

    There are five main sub-categories of Flexible Plastic Packaging. The categories and examples are included below:

    Stand-up and Zipper Lock Pouches

    • Zipper lock pouches for frozen foods like prawns, berries, prepared food, etc.
    • Zipper lock bags for fresh foods like grapes, berries, deli meat, etc.
    • Stand-up pouches for baby food, hand soap refills, etc.
    • Stand-up and zipper lock pouches for things like dried fruits, granola, sugar, oatmeal, quinoa, dish detergent pods, grated cheese, etc.

    Crinkly Wrappers and Bags

    • Bags for potato chips, candy, dried pasta, cereal, etc.
    • Wrappers for cheese slices, snack bars, instant noodles, etc.

    Flexible Packaging with Plastic Seal

    • Packaging for fresh pasta, pre-packaged deli meats, pre-packaged cheese, etc.

    Woven and Net Plastic Bags

    • Net bags for avocados, onions, oranges, lemons, limes, etc.
    • Woven plastic bags for rice, etc.

    Non-food Protective Packaging

    • Padded protective plastic like plastic shipping envelopes, plastic air packets, bubble wrap

    CLICK HERE to view photos of acceptable flexible packaging.


  • How Does Using the Recycle BC Depot Save Money?

    about 1 month ago

    The Recycle BC Depots are part of an Extended Producer Responsibility Program (EPR) that is regulated by the Province.

    By setting up approved Recycle BC Depots, the RDEK is classified as a Collector. That means that we are PAID per tonne for all recyclables that we collect at these Recycle BC Depots. The amount we are paid varies depending on the volume of recyclables we collect, in our first few months we are averaging between $80 and $120 per tonne.

    By contrast, the RDEK has to pay for every tonne we collect through the Yellow Bin Program.

    The more recyclables we can divert to the Recycle BC Depots, the more money it will save taxpayers. Plus, you can recycle over 76 additional items at the Depots. Better service at a cheaper price...it's a win, win.


  • I heard I have to sort my recyclables in this new system. That seems like it's going to take me way longer and I don't have room to store all these different bins.

    about 1 month ago

    For more than 20 years, we've had the yellow bin system - where we put all our accepted recyclables (paper, cardboard, tin/aluminum cans, grocery bags and plastics #1-#6) into one bin.

    Recycle BC does require some sorting of recyclables; however, once you get used to the new system, it is very easy to do and doesn't necessarily require much - or any more - storage depending on the system you already have in place at home. 

    Everything that is accepted in the yellow bins currently goes into the two larger bins at the Depot: paper/cardboard and plastic and metal containers. So, if you set up your bin at home to keep paper/cardboard on one side, and plastic/metal on the other, it's easy to put each side in the appropriate bins.

    The other "sheds" at the Recycle BC Depot take white styrofoam, printed styrofoam, flexible plastics, plastic bags & overwrap and glass.  NONE of these are accepted in the yellow bins and represent new opportunities to recycle.  Other than glass, they also don't take up much space and are typically a smaller portion of your recycling each week. You can keep an additional bin or plastic bag and easily drop these items in the appropriate tote on site. AND, if you stuff a plastic bag with your "extra items" - you can just toss the bag in the bags / overwrap bins when you're done!

  • What is a Recycle BC Depot?

    about 1 month ago

    Over the years, the recycling regulations in the Province have evolved to require producers of recyclable products to be responsible for the recycling and end-of-life management of those products.

    Many people will be familiar with some of the older Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for things like tires, oil and electronics, where you pay an eco or environmental fee at the store when you buy. That fee is intended to support a system for that product to be recycled and managed through the end of its life. One of the newer EPR programs is aimed at printed paper and packaging. It is managed by Recycle BC and the eco-fees are charged directly to the producers rather than consumers. 

    It is very important to understand that this is a new option and a totally separate program from the yellow bin system. People will have to use the Recycle BC Depot if they want to access these new recycling opportunities as we do not have access to the same markets through our yellow bin system.

    Recycle BC Depot are now open at the Kimberley Transfer Station, Columbia Valley Landfill and Cranbrook Bottle Depot.  A new Depot opens at the Cranbrook Transfer Station December 10th and in the Elk Valley in early 2020.