Bottle Depot vs Recycle BC

Poster explaining that Bottle Depot will no longer accept blue box materials at their Victoria locations.

This poster went around recently. It says that Bottle Depot, the biggest recycling company in Victoria, won’t accept Blue Box materials anymore.

It was a real kick in the gut when I saw this, and for a lot of other people as well. We try our best to recycle responsibly around here. Especially amongst my close friends, we separate out the glass, metal, and paper for the Blue Box, leave our refundables out for entrepreneurs to take, and keep soft plastics in huge bags stuffed under the kitchen sink until we can either reuse them or take them to the recycling depot.

With all that effort and care, it pains me to find out that our recyclable materials aren’t getting recycled, but instead going… where, exactly? To the dump? I have no idea.

When this issue came up I began to realize how little I actually know about recycling. I didn’t know, for example, that the Blue Box program is paid for by BC companies.

In my last post I was wondering how I could convince, or help others convince, our provincial government that EPR was a good idea. Turns out they are decades ahead of me. Turns out that it’s still not good enough though. According to the Times Colonist, the Blue Box program isn’t paying their service partners for collection enough to make their business worthwhile. I don’t completely understand how that’s even allowed, since according to BC’s recycling regulations, “[P]roducers of regulated products are required to manage industry-led EPR programs that include collection and recycling.”

Since I don’t understand at all what’s going on here, I wrote to the email address listed on the poster for some more information. I hope they answer, and if they do I’ll update here.

Hello, 

My name is Shannon and I’m a Canadian citizen and resident of Victoria, British Columbia. 

I’m curious about the recent announcement by Victoria’s Bottle Depots that they will no longer accept Blue Box materials for recycling. They say that they are not being paid enough by Recycle BC to make the business worthwhile. 

How does Recycle BC determine what to pay Bottle Depot and other recycling centers? How much do they typically pay for a ton of, for example, mixed glass and metal? 

I’m also wondering why is it that the customer (Recycle BC) is the one deciding what the price is, rather than the service provider (Bottle Depot)? Was there a recent contract negotiation that led to this change in service? 

If Bottle Depot is no longer accepting Blue Box items, where are they going? To the landfill, or to some other recycling facility off island?

And finally, now that Bottle Depot is not accepting these materials, how can Victoria residents responsibly ensure that our recyclable materials are recycled, and not diverted to landfill? 

Thanks for your help, 
Shannon Graham