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Recycling Questions? Ask Sonja and Helen Edition #9

Recycling Questions? Ask Sonja & Helen

Every two months, Recycling Renewal Program (RRP) Coordinators, Sonja and Helen, answer your questions on what can and cannot be recycled at Health Authority owned hospital and residential care sites. 
Recycling in health care facilities is different to recycling at home or in an office. Our facilities generate biomedical waste, so our recyclables pose a higher risk to recycling vendor staff that sort items by hand. We want to help ensure you have the information you need to dispose of your waste items correctly.

Missed previous editions?

We post the recycling question and answer series with photos and posters on the BCGreenCare.ca site here.

Edition #9: Empty medicine vials

Q. Where should I dispose of empty medicine vials at Lower Mainland hospitals and residential care facilities?

Dispose of empty medicine vials in the Garbage.

Regardless of whether or not the vial is made of glass or plastic, they should all be disposed of in the garbage when they are empty.

Some examples are:

·         Ampicillin for injection

·         Cefazolin for injection

·         Penicillin G sodium for injection

·         Lidocaine and Epinephrine for injection

·         Sterile water for injection 












Q. But, why can’t I recycle empty medicine vials in the Mixed Container bin?

These items aren’t accepted by our recycling vendor for two reasons:

1.       Glass medical containers, including vials, aren’t accepted by our vendor due to low market demand and perceived contamination risk. See Edition #4 for more information on how to dispose of your waste glass items.

2.       Even if the empty vial is made of plastic, the lid (closure system) generally contains some rubber or metal and can’t be removed. This means that the item is mixed waste and can’t be recycled.

Remember: the only glass accepted by our recycling vendor are food and beverage containers in the mixed container recycling bin.

Send us your questions!

Unsure about what can and can’t be recycled and why? Or do you have an inspiring story about recycling in your unit? 

Send an email to marianne.dawson@fraserhealth.ca. We will include your question in a future edition or contact you directly.