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Recycling Process

What Happens to my Recycling?

Residential packaging and printed paper is collected from households. It is then brought to a sorting facility in Surrey.

Items are then put on a sorting line, where the materials travel along a series of conveyor belts. Oversized contamination is manually removed. The process then continues using equipment such as screens, magnetic separators, optical sorters and air classifiers to separate the different materials into their specific categories.


  1. The plastics are sorted into 6 different categories. These plastics continue along conveyor belts for a final quality control clean-up before landing in their own storage areas as sorted materials.
  2. Once the material is sorted into the specific types of plastics, they are baled and sent to be processed into new raw materials. The plastic bottles, tubs, jars and film from BC are sent to Merlin Plastics to be made into new raw materials.
  3. The different plastics are washed, shredded into small flakes, and made into small plastic pellets. Finally, these raw material commodities are sold to manufacturers and turned into new products!


  1. The materials are hydro-pulped to break up the paper into separate fibres.
  2. Contaminants such as wire, plastic, string and globs of glue are screened out and the pulp is de-inked.
  3. The watery pulp is then sprayed onto flat wire screens and the water is drained from the pulp.
  4. Recycled fibres bond together as they move through a series of press rollers which squeeze out more water.
  5. The paper-resembling sheets are then pressed through heated metal rollers which dry the paper.
  6. The pulp from each material is then recycled into new products.


  1. The materials are separated into aluminum and steel, crushed, and then baled into a large block.
  2. The aluminum is melted down and reformed into more aluminum cans.
  3. Metal tins and cans are baled and then melted down to be turned into scrap metal, which can be used to make new steel/metal products.

New Products

The following list shows examples of new products that are made from your recycled items.

Plastic Bottles and Jars; Clothing fibres, pillow stuffing, ice scrapers, carpet, fleece jackets, compost bins, speed bumps, new plastic bottles and jars

Aluminum Cans; New aluminum cans

Metal Tins; Scrap metal to make new steel/metal products (i.e. rebar)

Tetra Pak containers; Toilet tissue, cardboard boxes and other paper products

Gable top milk cartons; Industrial paper products

Boxboard; Industrial paper products (i.e. cardboard)

Mixed Paper; Newsprint, magazines, writing paper, books

Newspaper; Newsprint paper, roof and felt paper (for construction industry)

Corrugated Cardboard; New cardboard products, paperboard, egg cartons

Plastic Overwrap on Water Bottles; Garbage bags, agricultural film wrap

Milk Jugs; New milk jugs, plastic lumber (for playgrounds and furniture)

About Recycle BC

Recycle BC is a non-profit organization responsible for residential packaging and printed paper recycling throughout British Columbia. Recycle BC ensures packaging and printed paper is collected from households and recycling depots, sorted and recycled responsibly. The Recycle BC program is funded by businesses, like retailers, manufacturers and restaurants that supply packaging and printed paper to BC residents, to shift recycling costs away from homeowners. Learn more at