A lot of food-soiled paper-products are compostable, but not recyclable with clean papers. Put these items in the green bin. Examples include:
- Paper napkins
- Food-soiled newsprint (often used to line a kitchen catcher)
- Paper towel
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Wooden chopsticks, skewers, popsicle sticks
Check with your municipality to confirm what exactly can go in your green bin.
Download printable PDF poster.
What DOES NOT Go in the Green Bin?
Inorganic materials like glass, metal and plastic can't be composted.
Plastic and plastic-lined bags, even the ones labelled "biodegradable" or "compostable," are not accepted at all local facilities as they can cause operational problems, may not break down properly during processing, and may contaminate the finished compost. If the operator identifies plastic bags or other non-compostable materials in the green bin, the entire load may be rejected and sent to landfill. Leave them out of your green bin to be safe, unless specifically allowed by your municipality or service provider.
The following list includes examples of items that do not belong in the green bin. If you have questions about a specific item,
contact your municipality or waste hauler.
- Animal carcasses
- Butter wrappers
- Bread tags
- Cereal and cracker box liners
- Chip and cookie bags
- Coffee cups and lids
- Cotton swabs and balls, make-up remover pads
- Dental floss
- Dirty diapers
- Elastic bands
- Foil wrap, containers and pie plates
- Glass jars
- Metal cans
- Parchment paper
- Pet food bags and other lined bags
- Pet waste or kitty litter
- Personal hygiene items
- Plastic bags and plastic-lined bags, even those marked “biodegradable” or “compostable”
- Plastic containers and plastic cutlery, even those marked “biodegradable” or “compostable”
- Plastic wrap
- Produce stickers (PLU stickers), even those marked “biodegradable” or “compostable”
- Rubber bands
- Soil, sod, rocks
- Swizzle sticks
- Twist ties
- Vacuum contents and bags
- Wipes (e.g. baby wipes, make-up remover wipes)
What If I Still Don’t Know Where It Goes?
Many types of food containers and packaging are made of more than one material, and these are the items that can be the most confusing. To help you figure out what goes where, use the below tests:
Take the Grease Test
If you get a paper takeout container, do the grease test. If the grease goes through, it's safe for the green bin. If it doesn't go through, it may have a coating or plastic liner, and should go in the garbage.
Do the Tea Bag Tear Test
If your tea bag tears easily when wet, it’s made of paper and can go in the green bin. If it doesn’t rip easily, it’s probably made of plastic, and goes in the garbage.
Keep Coffee Cups Out of the Green Bin
Regular coffee cups have a plastic liner so they can’t go in your green bin. Put them in your residential recycling.
Lined Paper Bags
If your paper bag has cellulose on the inside, it gets the green light for the green bin. If it’s lined with plastic (even plastic labelled “compostable” or “biodegradable”), put it in the garbage.
Some materials that might seem to belong in the green bin, like pizza boxes and egg cartons, are accepted as part of Recycle BC’s program. Use the
Waste Wizard tool on their website to find out if you should recycle them with your containers or paper, or take them to a depot.
If you have questions about a specific item, you can also try
contacting your municipality or waste hauler.
If you’re still unsure if something goes in the green bin, play it safe and put it in the garbage.