Accepted Recyclables

*** Important Notice***

On May 19, 2014  the items accepted in curbside recycling changed. Additional items have been added and are listed below; however, film plastics (grocery bags, bread bags etc.) are only accepted at Recycle BC recycling depots and no longer accepted in our curbside recycling program. Please read below for more details.

Click Here [PDF - 1.6 MB]for a quick reference guide for recycling at curbside and local recycling depots.


Film plastics are accepted at all CVRD recycling centers and Island Return-It Bottle Depots at no cost.  Additionally the following grocery stores accept single use grocery bags for recycling at no cost:

  • Thrifty Foods ( Duncan & Mill Bay) – Bin at front of store
  • Country Grocer (Cobble Hill) – Bin at front of store
  • Save on Foods (Duncan & Laysmith) – Bin at front of store
  • Walmart Supercentre (Duncan)
  • London Drugs – Bring them to the counter
  • Chemainus Foods – Will donate to local thrift store


What paper, plastic and metal items are accepted at curbside? [PDF - 787 KB]

What items are accepted at MMBC depots and how do I prepare them? [PDF - 1.8 MB]

Why are these changes required?

What items have been added to curbside collection?

What will happen if items that are not accepted are placed in curbside recycling bins?

How do I recycle items no longer accepted in curbside collection?

Why is glass not accepted in curbside recycling?

Accepted Curbside Recyclables Changed in May 2014!

In 2011, the Government of British Columbia amended the Recycling Regulation to require that, starting May 19, 2014, the businesses that supply packaging and printed paper to residents assume responsibility for managing these items after residents discard them. This is called extended producer responsibility, or EPR, and the provincial government has been introducing EPR regulations for various types of materials for the past 20 years.

Starting May 19, 2014, businesses that supply packaging and printed paper to BC residents will be responsible for collecting and managing these materials so they can be recycled. Recycle BC , a non-profit organization working on behalf of these businesses, will be responsible for residential recycling programs in many areas across BC, either directly or by working with local governments, First Nations, private companies and not-for-profit organizations.

Through Recycle BC’s packaging and printed paper recycling program, many BC residents will be able to recycle types of packaging that are not commonly included in current curbside, multi-family and depot collection programs, including milk cartons, foam containers and packaging, plant pots, aluminum foil packaging, certain types of plastic film packaging and drink cups.

The Municipality of North Cowichan  has  signed onto this Recycle BC program and an annual incentive of nearly $350,000 towards its curbside recycling program will be paid to the Municipality by  an industry led and funded non- profit organization named Recycle BC.  The Municipality will continue to manage the recycling collection program but Recycle BC will market these products.  For more information on Recycle BC please see their website:

Signing on with Recycle BC will result in changes to some of the acceptable materials in the municipality’s curbside recycling program, specifically the removal of film plastics from curbside collections and the addition of several items which are listed below.  

New additions to accepted curbside recycling include:

  • Gabletop containers (e.g., milk cartons)
  • Aerosol containers
  • Plant pots
  • Aluminum foil containers
  • Aseptic containers (e.g., soy milk, soup containers)
  • Plastic clamshell containers (commonly supplied by delis and bakeries)
  • Paper packaging coated with wax or plastic (e.g., milk cartons, ice cream cartons)
  • Hot and cold drink cups


Curbside recycling bins containing items that are not acceptable will be left at the curb by the municipality’s service provider and a brief note explaining why the recyclables were not collected will be placed on the collection bin. If recyclable items are placed in the garbage our curbside collectors will not collect the garbage and will leave a note explaining why they were left at the curb.  Broken glass will continue to be accepted in garbage collection providing it is placed in a container to prevent injury to curbside collection staff.  The use of plastic bags to contain garbage will also continue to be permitted.

Contamination levels of residential curbside recycling must be kept below 3% in order for the muncipality to receive the incentive provided by Recycle BC. Keeping contamination levels below this limit will result in savings on taxes related to curbside recycling for residents.  

The most common causes of contamination of the curbside recycling program include the recycling of:

  • Greasy pizza boxes (acceptable in organics collection bin)
  • Styrofoam (CVRD Drop-off Depots accept residential quantities of foamed polystyrene for recycling free of charge. Make sure it is clean before bringing it in.)
  • Glass (Non-refundable, clean glass jars and bottles with lids removed can be dropped off at a CVRD Recycling Drop-off Depot. or Island Return It Bottle Depot)

Items that are NOT Included in Curbside Recycling (Depot Only) 

To find a location to recycle items which are not accepted in our curbside recycling program please search our "waste wizard" at the top of the page or phone the CVRD recycling hotline at (250) 746-2540 (toll free 1-800-665-3955).

Accepted at Recycling Depots Only 

Depot Only


Not Accepted

Non-deposit glass bottles and jars

Clear or coloured

Empty and rinse bottles and jars.

No glasses, dishes, cookware, window glass or mirrors

No ceramic products

No deposit glass bottles (take to Return-It Depot for deposit refund)
Plastic bags and overwrap

***Note*** there are two streams for different film plastic materials which must be seperated accordingly.  Search the product/material in the "waste wizard" at the top of the page for detailed sorting instructions


Plastic Bags and Overwrap:

Examples include plastic bags for groceries and dry cleaning; bags for bread, newspapers and flyers; pre-washed salad bags; bags for produce and dry bulk foods; frozen vegetable bags; outer wrap for soft drink can flats; water softener salt, wood pellet and garden product bags; outer bags for diaper and feminine hygiene products; overwrap on mattresses, furniture and electronic equipment


Other Flexible Packaging:

Stand up zipper lock pouches (ex. granola or frozen berry packaging) crinkly wrappers and bags (ex. coffee and chip bags) , cellophane,  flexible packaging with plastic seal (ex. packaging for fresh pasta or prepackaged deli meats) non-food protective wrap (ex. bubble wrap, plastic envelopes) mesh bags for onions, avacados, oranges and lemons etc.

No lumber or construction wrap

No foil lined potato chip or snack bags

Plastic foam containers and trays  Clean meat trays, foam egg cartons, foam clamshells for take-out food, cups and bowls 

No liquid-absorbing pads

No shrink wrap for meat, poultry, fish or cheese

No paper napkins

Plastic foam cushion packaging

To protect electronics, small appliances, etc.


Separate colour and white plastic foam

No foam peanuts, packing chips or noodles

No blue or pink foam board insulation

Glass (Depot only)

Accepted Description Not Accepted
Non-deposit glass bottles and jars

Clear or coloured

Empty and rinse bottles and jars.

No glasses, dishes, cookware, window glass or mirrors

No ceramic products

Deposit glass bottles (take to Return-It Depot for deposit refund)

 We ask for glass to be separated from other recyclables because glass can easily break during collection. When broken glass mixes with paper and other containers it becomes difficult to properly recycle these materials, meaning that less glass—and less of the other material—is recycled. Broken glass is also a safety hazard.