A waste composition study completed at the Greater Vernon Diversion & Disposal Facility in 2021 and 2022 found that cardboard was one of the most frequently found items in garbage, accounting for 4% of the total waste disposed. While four percent may not sound like a large number, it amounts to millions of kilograms of material annually. Cardboard is easily divertable and recyclable, so the RDNO is reminding businesses and residents of the steps they can take to keep cardboard out of the garbage.
There are many options for recycling cardboard. Businesses and multi-family residential buildings can obtain cardboard or mixed recyclables bins through a private waste collection service provider. Multi-family buildings also have the option of receiving service through Recycle BC program. Most single-family households in the RDNO are served by the Recycle BC curbside collection program and have convenient access to curbside recycling for a wide range of residential packaging and paper products, including cardboard. Recycle BC depots accept paper and packaging materials as well.
When recycling your cardboard, please remember to flatten it. This helps reduce the volume it takes up in the collection vehicle, resulting in less fuel used to collect and transport cardboard. For residential curbside recycling collection, if your flattened cardboard boxes do not fit in your blue box, Recycle BC advises that neatly stacking them beside your blue box is an option. This can even save you a trip to the recycling depot. Flattening your cardboard also ensures other materials like packaging foam and other plastic products do not end up mixed with the cardboard, which increases contamination and reduces the potential for the cardboard to be recycled.
Heavily soiled or contaminated cardboard cannot be recycled. In cases where cardboard has food residue on it, it can be composted, such as through curbside food scraps collection programs or commercial compost bins. It is important to keep plastic-lined paper, tape or other plastic out of compost to prevent plastic from being released in the environment.
Reducing the amount of cardboard in our landfills provides a number of benefits. In addition to reducing waste, it keeps more organic materials out of our landfills which can produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Also, reducing, reusing and recycling cardboard conserves valuable natural resources.
Businesses and multi-family dwellings in need of recycling collection services for cardboard are encouraged to contact a waste hauler for service. The Recycle BC program provides residential recycling curbside and depot collection programs, and more information about this program can be found at: https://recyclebc.ca/north-okanagan.