Recycling FAQs

We have everything you need to know to perfect your recycling skills! Get details on how to sort, what to sort and where to go with items that don’t belong in curbside recycling for pickup.

Tips for Sorting Recyclables

What can be recycled curbside?

Items that can go in your recycling for curbside collection include:


Greeting cards Carry out beverage trays Molded paper such as coffee cup trays Envelopes
Gift wrap Cores from paper towel and toilet tissue Magazines, catalogues and phone books Newspapers, inserts and flyers
Gift bags Shredded paper (contain in clear plastic bag first) Boxboard boxes Household paper


Plastic packaging for toys, batteries, etc.

Plastic bottles, jars and jugs 

Plastic trays and clamshells

Foil wrap and take out containers

Plastic or paper take-out cups, bowls and lids

Caps, tops, lids and pumps

Plastic garden pots and seedling trays

Aerosol cans (empty)

Spiral wound cans and lids from frozen juice concentrate, chips, etc.

Metal cans

Cartons for soup, milk, etc.



What cannot go out for curbside recycling?

Some of the items currently found in curbside recycling need to be diverted to other waste streams or sent to the depot.

Common items that are currently being found in curbside bins that should instead be recycled at a depot such as Bings Creek Solid Waste Management Complex are:

  • Film and soft plastics (ie: plastic bags or plastic wrappers)
  • Styrofoam
  • Glass
  • Electronics

Common items that are currently being found in curbside bins that should instead go to other streams are:

  • Food/yard waste – compost using green organics cart
  • Hard and soft cover books – donate to a second-hand store, or dispose of in garbage
  • Clothing - donate to a second-hand store, or dispose of in garbage

Where can I learn what can and can not be recycled curbside?

There are a few helpful reference tools available:

  • MNC Curbside App: Quickly and easily learn where your items belong by downloading the "MNC Curbside" app (for Android and iPhones, available through the Apple Store or Google Play) and using the Waste Wizard sorting tool which allows you to quick search specific items and gives you details on where and how to dispose of items if they don’t belong curbside for recycling.
  • Waste Wizard online: The Waste Wizard tool is also available for desktop users at the top of our Curbside Collection webpage.
  • Quick Guide: Also check out this Quick Reference Guide [PDF - 2 MB] – print it and post/share for easy references

Why is glass not collected in the curbside recycling program?

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. Glass can be disposed of at Bings Creek Solid Waste Management Complex (3900 Drinkwater Road, Duncan).

What do I do with soft plastics, plastic bags and film plastics?

Plastic bags and film plastics (such as overwrap) are accepted at Island Return-It Bottle Depots, Bing’s Creek, and Peerless Road Recycling 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 & Ladysmith) – Bin at front of store
  • Walmart Supercentre (Duncan)
  • London Drugs – Bring them to the counter
  • Chemainus Foods – Will donate to local thrift store

Please make sure that the bags are clean before taking them to be recycled.

Where can I dispose of old appliances, paint, etc.?

Any paint cans, whether full, half-full, or empty can be dropped off a local recycling depot, along with items such as old appliances or computers. If appliances or electronic devices are in good working order please consider donating to a reuse centre, like the Salvation Army.

Recycling Containers & Bags

What type of container can I use for my recyclables?

North Cowichan does not supply containers for recycling. Recycle containers need to be clearly labeled to avoid confusion. Municipal Hall has yellow recycling stickers for containers free of charge and yellow bags for $2.00 each. Acceptable recycle containers must:

  • be designed to be manually lifted (no commercial totes/carts);
  • have capacity no greater than 120 litres (30 US Gal);
  • not to exceed 20 kgs or 44 lbs (including contents) when placed at the curb for collection.

Where can I get recycling bags/containers?

Yellow recycling stickers for containers (free) and yellow bags ($2.00 each) are available at North Cowichan's Municipal Hall (7030 Trans-Canada Highway).

About the Service

Is recycling voluntary or mandatory?

Recycling is a mandatory program as garbage collection may be refused should it contain recyclable material.

Is there a limit on recyclable material I can put out?

There is no limit on the amount of recyclable materials you can put out on your collection day; however, each container should be no more than 120 L (30 US gallons) in size so the collection contractor can easily lift the materials into the truck. Some other jurisdictions allow much larger bins (up to 240L) as their recycling trucks are equipped with hydraulic arms that can lift these heavier recycling containers. North Cowichan's recycling contractor trucks are not equipped with these arms, so recycling containers must be lifted by hand, necessitating smaller bins.

What happens when I include items for curbside recycling pickup that aren’t accepted?

Non-acceptable items can contaminate the recycling stream, and make it harder and more costly for the recycling program to be successful. Currently, North Cowichan is seeing a 7% contamination rate, which is significantly above the required 3%, which means we have some work to do improve as a community! Over the coming months, we’ll be offering ongoing information, resources, events and other recycling-related activities for residents in North Cowichan. To help with sorting, the municipality will also undertake inspections of curbside recycling bins in January, 2022. Residents can expect to find stickers on their bins with guidance on sorting as needed – continued infractions may result in unacceptable material or bins left behind.

Why is my recycling day different than my neighbours’?

The recycling routes are not the same as the garbage pickup zones. Your recycling day is identified by your colour zone and whether it is an “A” zone, or a “B” zone. Your neighbours may differ from yours, as they may be in the opposite “A” or “B” zone. Recycling is collected on an alternating cycle; normally every two weeks. Download our "MNC Curbside" app from the App Store or Google Play store to receive reminders sent to you before your collection day!

Does North Cowichan coordinate the commercial collection of Recycling?

No, all apartment, strata, business, and institutional complexes within the municipality must arrange their own recycling services. Buildings may either self-haul recyclables to drop-off depot locations or utilize the services of a private waste hauler.

Who do I call if I have collection related concerns or questions?

The Municipality's curbside recycling is collected by a contractor. Questions can be directed to them at 250-715-0955. Since they are directly involved in the curbside recycling collection issues, they can normally answer your questions the best. The CVRD Recycle hotline (250-746-2540) can also help you with other recycling questions.