Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most Frequently Asked Questions of recycling depot staff.
And the answers.
1. How can I tell which plastics are recyclable?

Most clean plastic packaging is recyclable. There are a few exceptions, such as: plastic strapping - which gets caught in machinery; paper/plastic combinations (e.g., certain coffee bags); and squishy foam. If you are unsure whether we can accept a certain item, please ask a depot attendant for assistance.

We also recycle non-packaging plastic (e.g., a lawn chair) but it has its own designated collection bin. Non-packaging plastic must be clean, free of paint, and free of metal.

There is a small charge for these items as they must be taken to Vancouver for processing and recycling.

2. How clean do plastic packaging, metal containers, and cardboard need to be before I place them into the depot recycling bins?

The cleaner the better, but a little residue at the top of a bottle, for example, is fine. Please remove all food bits (it keeps the rats at bay), and rinse juice and pop containers to keep the wasps away. Thank you.

3. Do I need to take the labels off jars and cans?

No, however labels that are left on cans and jars are removed in the recycling process and are not recycled.

If you remove the labels you can recycle them with paper.

4. Can caps and lids be recycled?

Yes; metal lids can be placed in the tin can bins and plastic lids in the plastic packaging bins. 

5. Should I flatten plastic bottles and crush cans?

No. If you flatten the containers it takes more to fill the bag and we lose the deposit on the extra containers in the bag. A full bag of refundables is estimated to contain a particular count (e.g., 288 cans in a clear plastic bag).

6. Can plastic bags be recycled with plastic containers?

It’s a common mistake, but no.

Soft, stretchy plastic bags are accepted separately in a bin marked Plastic Bags.

Ziplocs, saran-wrap, shrink-wrap,  plastic/foil zippered pouches, bubble envelopes, mesh onion/avocado bags, and crinkly chip and candy wrappers go in the Crinkly Plastics bin.

Fused paper-and-bubblewrap envelopes are garbage.

Pop/beer can yokes are collected and recycled separately.

FYI: Cloth bags are often available for free at the recycle depot. They can be found in the FreeStore and hanging by the paper basket.

7. Can aluminum foil be recycled? 

Yes: aluminum is recycled with steel cans and they are collected together. Please wash off any food residue. Otherwise raccoons, rats, and ravens will dig through accumulated foil and make a mess.

8. If something is made from recycled paper or plastic, can it be recycled again?

While it’s true that recycling paper and plastic over and over will degrade the quality, that doesn’t mean you can’t recycle it. Many recycled products contain a percentage of both virgin and post-consumer recycled content.

When glass, paper and cans are recycled, they become similar products that can be used and recycled over and over again. With plastics recycling, however, there is usually only a single reuse. 

According to EcoCycle, most bottles and jugs don’t become food and beverage containers again. Pop bottles may become carpet or stuffing for sleeping bags; and milk jugs are often made into plastic lumber, recycling bins and toys.

Plastic is a great starting place for reducing your reliance on single-use containers, such as plastic water bottles.

Be inspired to rethink and reuse. Try carrying a reusable drinking container like a metal water bottle instead.

With paper, the quality of the recycled fibre is assessed at a mill. The higher-quality fibre is used to create paper, while the shorter, lower-quality fibre is turned into things like toilet paper, paper towels and cereal boxes.

Some cardboard and paper can be composted. See how easy it is to compost at home by visiting Victoria's Compost Education Centre website.

9. How do I find out what to do with hard-to-recycle items?

Ask a depot staff member, look for further information on this website, and/or visit MyRecyclopedia. A wide variety of products are recycled at our depot for free or for a small fee. Appliances, light fixtures, computers, printers, stereos, TV's, CD's, DVD's, VCR tapes, cassette tapes, cellphones, light bulbs (including fluorescent), as well as batteries and car batteries are just some of the items you can recycle with very little effort by bringing them to our depot.

Also see British Columbia's Recycling Handbook (a simple guide to what can be recycled under BC's stewardship programs) at


Other stuff:

Check out these creative recycling programs. Preserve transforms pesky plastics into recycled toothbrushes, razors and the like.

Pender Island Recycling Society

(250) 629.6962 | E-mail »