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Waste and Recycling FAQ

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Have you ever wondered what happens to the items you put in the hospital recycling bins?  Or why we can’t recycle more?  Check out these Frequently Asked Questions.



  • Waste diversion is calculated by dividing the kilograms of waste that went to recycling and compost by the total waste generated in all streams.  We end up with a percentage of waste diverted away from landfill.
  • By 2030 all health organizations have a goal of reaching 50% waste diversion.  That is a stretch goal and most acute care sites are currently averaging between 30-40%.  Long-term care sites are averaging between 40-70%.
  • Visit Our Progress page for more details on waste goals and targets.

  • Recycling was paused for parts of 2020 and 2021 due to concerns from recycling staff about the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2, since staff handle recyclables by hand. Recycling in our smaller facilities was restarted in November 2021.
  • You can see what happens to the different recycling streams in our Zero Waste Education and Resource Guide

  • Unfortunately recycling soft plastic packaging is currently not an option in our facilities. The barrier is the recycling market itself, and not our desire to recycle. The soft plastic packaging we use is low quality and does not hold much value, making it very difficult to collect for recycling on a large scale. The B.C. government is planning to prioritize funding for plastic recycling research, targeting hard-to-recycle plastics, so our options may change in the future.
  • Pallet wrap is much more recyclable and is being collected and sent for recycling in most of our large facilities.

Many people think that confidential paper is not recycled, but that is untrue! After being shredded, the paper is then recycled and helps us toward our waste diversion goals.

In 2021 and 2022, the BC Ministry of Health ran several pilot projects in facilities throughout the province to determine the logistics of recycling masks. More information on the feasibility of expanding mask recycling options is expected over the coming months.

If you are missing bins, please contact us and we can connect you to the right department.

Health-care staff have a lot of competing priorities, but proper waste segregation is important for everyone’s health and safety. You can take the Waste Management Basics course on LearningHub and review the many resources available on this website.