Beverage containers dropped off for recycling are bagged up at a depot in Surrey.

Beverage containers dropped off for recycling are bagged up at a depot in Surrey.

Container recycling lags in Metro Vancouver

Too many recyclable bottles, cans go to landfill and Surrey is worst offender (with infographic)

Metro Vancouver residents are recycling laggards when it comes to taking back their empty bottles and other deposit containers.

And those in Surrey and Vancouver appear to be the worst of all.

So says Encorp Pacific, the non-profit agency that oversees the Return-It network of depots on behalf of member companies.

The system has an overall beverage container recycling rate of 80.1 per cent across B.C., a number that has improved from 72 per cent in 2006.

But Metro Vancouver is significantly worse than other regions at about 74 per cent, according to Encorp CEO Scott Fraser.

“Surrey and Vancouver are our two biggest challenges in terms of lower recovery rates and the largest numbers of unrecovered containers,” Fraser said.

Encorp says recovery rates are also low in the North Shore, Tri Cities and Abbotsford, but relatively high in Langley, New Westminster, Maple Ridge and Delta. (See accompanying charts below.)

An estimated 155 million beverage containers sold in Metro Vancouver each year never make their way back to depots, despite the offer of deposit refunds.

About half the containers that end up unrecycled in landfills are dropped in outdoor garbage containers or come from businesses, institutions or industry, while roughly a quarter each come from single family and multi-family residential.

The business/commercial sector has a container recycling rate of only 58 per cent in Metro, dragging down the region’s overall performance.

More cages for deposit containers on the sides of outdoor garbage bins could help binners retrieve and recycle them, Fraser said.

“We really would like to see recycling containers next to every street garbage bin,” Fraser said. “A harried family with three kids with juice containers walking down the street wants to put them in the first thing they see. And if it’s a garbage can we lose those containers.”

Encorp has begun offering free binner-friendly container recycling receptacles to municipalities that promise to service and clean them. They’re designed for areas with high pedestrian traffic.

Fraser said deposits are never paid out on many containers that are put in the blue box curbside recycling system – now overseen by Multi-Material BC – because they’re often crushed in mechanized sorting machinery and can’t be identified.

Some Metro Vancouver politicians have raised concerns that recycling of glass bottles will decline because MMBC no longer accepts them in the blue box in most municipalities, directing residents to instead bring glass to depots.

Depots also generally do not accept or pay refunds on beverage containers bought in the U.S. because no deposits were paid into Encorp’s system to cover their recycling.

Encorp marked 20 years of operating the container deposit system this year and recorded its 15 billionth container recycled in October.

Encorp’s statistics don’t include beer, wine and spirit bottles and cans.

They come back at much higher recovery rates – more than 92 per cent – under a separate system jointly run by major breweries.

Encorp’s Fraser said the disparity in return rates between the two systems is because liquor consumers are accustomed to returning empties when they go to buy more beer or wine.

THE UNRECYCLED | Create Infographics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock council say closure of the city’s pier, promenade and parking lots are not under consideration at this time, but have approved other COVID-19 options for the waterfront including stepped-up RCMP patrols that are already part of detachment planning. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock pier, promenade, parking lot closures off the table – for now

Council members warn decision subject to future provincial health orders

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Sterling Cunningham file photo)
White Rock officials question if tourism relief will come soon enough

For business, budget ‘feels more like a placeholder,’ says chamber head

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
South Surrey, White Rock MLAs call Tuesday’s provincial budget ‘disappointing’

MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Trevor Halford say residents are getting less for more

Memorial for Travis Selje on 64th Avenue in Cloverdale, west of 176th Street. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Epilepsy-defence driver found not guilty in crash that killed Surrey teen Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

Canadian money (Black Press Media files)
Surrey, Burnaby residents to pay $141K for their part in U.S.-based Ponzi, pyramid scheme

B.C. Securities Commission says the two raised about US$15M from more than 1,400 investors

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2016. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
UPDATED: Sinixt, First Nation bordering Canada-U.S., can claim Indigenous rights, top court rules

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Firefighters carry equipment from the scene of Monday’s Willoughby fire. The April 19, 2021 blaze turned the Alexander Square development at the corner of 208th Street and 80th Avenue to rubble. (Rob Wilton/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley Fire: The aftermath of the inferno

The scene remains active as investigators work to determine a cause

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Most Read