Big surprise: You shouldn’t put explosive propane tanks in the recycling bin

Nov 2 2017, 11:51 pm

Everyone wants to do their bit for the planet, right?

Whether you start out by using reusable shopping bags for your groceries, reducing your waste, or just recycling as much as you can, every bit helps.

Sure, the thought of recycling can sometimes be overwhelming, but a little bit of extra effort can make a big difference.

After all, not absolutely everything can be put in your blue bin.

Recycle BC winds up finding all sorts of weird items in their collections. From old TVs to partially-full propane tanks. (Seriously.)

Not only are these items not included in Recycle BC’s program, they can also be dangerous, causing explosions that risk the health and safety of the people sorting through all the accepted packaging.

So what can and can’t be recycled? Here’s a list of things you can and can’t put in your recycling bin to help you do your bit for reducing BC’s contamination levels.

No: Durable plastic products

Plastic containers can of course be recycled, but plastic that isn’t packaging can’t be included. This includes the likes of plastic toys or clothes hangers. You can keep these items together and donate them or throw them in the garbage. It’s that simple.

No: Electronics


Okay, so you might come across an old home telephone or cell phone that you bought years ago when you’re cleaning out your place. But it’s not cool to throw it into your blue bin. This also applies to electronics like computers, small appliances, light strings, and other devices. Instead, bring them to the correct disposal centre or recycling depot.

No: Propane tanks

Propane tank/Recycle BC

You can’t put any kind of compressed gas tank in your recycle bin. This includes the likes of refillable propane tanks used for camp stoves, disposable propane canisters, butane canisters, helium balloon tanks, and oxygen tanks.

It’s seriously dangerous to include these items in your curbside or multi-family recycling because they pose massive health and safety risks. Compressed gas cylinders could rupture and catch fire, so it’s vital that they’re disposed of properly at a safe drop-off location!

No: Bags of mixed garbage or food debris

Mixed garbage/Shutterstock

You have a black bin for your garbage, so it has no home in your blue bin and it won’t be accepted by Recycle BC. Neither will organics like food and yard debris. You have a separate bin for those too… remember?

Yes: Cartons and paper cups

didposable coffee cups ( stockmorrison / Shutterstock)

Things like beverage paper cups, milk cartons, and ice-cream tubs can go straight into your blue bin. Yes, coffee cups and lids are recyclable in your blue box! Now you know.

Yes: Flyers and magazines


If you have an old hard cover version of the Guinness Book of World Records from 1999 or a Harry Potter book, don’t throw them in your recycle bin. But if you have a soft directory like an old telephone book, some old magazines, letters, or envelopes, you can easily throw them in.

No: Plastic bags/soft plastics/flexible plastic packaging

The first of the new garbage and recycling bins are installed at the intersection of West Georgia Street and Granville Street. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

You might think that you’re doing good for the environment by putting stand-up pouches, cereal bags, chip bags, kitchen stretch wrap, coffee bags, crinkly cellophane wrap, and candy wrappers, in your blue bin. Reality check, you’re not.

These items are for the trash because they currently can’t be recycled! Bags for groceries, dry cleaning, bread, and flyers are, however, recyclable, but they don’t go in your blue box – take them to a recycling depot near you (including London Drugs stores).

No: Scrap metal and construction material

Think about it: automotive parts, chains, pots, frying pans, and other hardware shouldn’t be included in recycling with your containers. Neither should wood waste or construction material. Keep it together and bring it to the correct drop-off location like a responsible adult human. Rinsed steel containers from food cans as well as aluminum cans and empty aerosol containers can be recycled, so you’re good in that respect.

No: Clothes and shoes


Since the winter weather is behind us, you’re likely giving your wardrobe a revival and getting rid of old winter clothing that you know you’re never going to wear again. Bag up these items, plus anything like shoes or soft toys, and place them in a clothing bin or at a drop-off clothing bank to ensure that they’re going to the right second home. That way you can feel good about recycling your clothes, too.

No: Homeware items

Clear or coloured non-deposit glass bottles and jars can be recycled, whereas glass including bowls, plates, mugs, drinking glasses, windows, mirrors, and glass pot lids shouldn’t go into your grey glass bin. It’s super important that glass is kept separate from other containers and paper – broken glass mixed in with other materials causes real problems with ensuring the recyclability of all the materials! The same goes for mattresses. Keep these items separate and bring them to the correct centres for disposal.

No: Foam packaging

Plastic foam containers and trays used for meat and produce, foam packaging from electronic appliances, and foam egg cartons can be recycled, not in your blue box, but at a recycling depot. And you’re not going to want to put things like liquid-absorbing pads used in trays for meat, shrink wrap for meat, poultry, fish or cheese into your recycling because they can’t be accepted. And you’re better than that.

Now that you have the know-how to recycle like a pro, all you have to do is take a moment to think about where you’re placing your old wares. And if you ever get stumped, there’s a Recycle BC app for that!

Recycle BC is responsible for residential packaging and printed paper recycling across BC. The organization works to ensure materials are collected, sorted, and responsibly recycled. You can find a recycling depot near you now and get started, or simply take out your recycling boxes and bags on the next pick-up day.

For more information, visit Recycle BC on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Catriona HughesCatriona Hughes

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