Contamination Reduction Plan

As the City of New Westminster continues to grow and evolve, finding ways to reduce waste is an increasingly important part of minimizing the City’s impact on our environment. Recycle BC has identified that New Westminster has an overall contamination rate of 9.09% based on audits completed from November 1, 2022 to October 31, 2023. This is an unacceptable level of contamination within the Recycle BC program and the City is required to take action to track and reduce contamination.

The cost of contamination

High rates of contamination means fewer items can be recycled and may end up in the landfill. This is harmful to our environment. By recycling right, we can decrease our carbon footprint and protect our planet.

If we don't work hard to reduce our contamination rate, the City could face significant fines, and it would impact our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the City's Bold Steps for Climate Action.


    Additional costs to the City from fines could ultimately be passed along to residents through increased solid waste fees. Ongoing contamination could also result in bylaw fines to residents; carts that continue to be contaminated will not be collected and residents will be responsible for disposing of items.

    The City is dedicated to helping the community reduce contamination. To keep the recycling program affordable and sustainable the City has developed a Contamination Reduction Plan, which outlines the actions, commitments, timelines, and measurement tools we will use with the goal to significantly reduce our contamination now and into the future.
    • The City is committed to helping residents learn how to properly sort and prepare items for recycling. City staff are available to help residents gain a better understanding of what goes in their curbside recycling, compost and garbage carts and what items can be dropped off for recycling or disposal and how to properly distinguish between commonly mis-sorted items. Educational information will also be provided in several ways including the curbside collection calendar, utility notices, social media, cart stickers, postcards and more!
    • New Westminster’s residential recycling collection has a high rate of contamination.

      This means that more than 14% of materials collected in our residential recycling carts do not belong. Recycle BC mandates that the City’s curbside recycling program not contain more than 3% of contamination. If we are unable to meet this target, the City could face fines upwards of $480,000 per year.

      The City will be taking steps to address recycling contamination through a variety of measures. 

      In 2023, staff began applying lid labels to your recycling carts which identified acceptable and unacceptable materials.

      Beginning summer 2024, City staff will be conducting random audits of residential recycling carts. Upon inspection, if your recycling cart contains materials that don’t belong, you’ll receive a cart tag and materials will not be collected. This is the first step in a 3-step process to eliminate contamination. The second step would be a formal bylaw notice delivered to your address. The third and final step is a fine of $150. 


      1. TAG
        Reminder that unacceptable materials were found in your cart
      2. NOTICE
        Formal bylaw notice
      3. FINE
        $150 fine issued if unacceptable materials continue to be found in your cart

    For the City to successfully reduce its recycling contamination rate, and to ensure the curbside recycling program remains affordable and sustainable, all residents must do their part to Recycle Right.
    • Improper sorting, putting non-accepted materials in your recycle bin, can contaminate the rest of the recycling load, which means that the acceptable material ends up in the landfill. To recycle right means diverting waste from landfills is important for conserving resources, saving energy, supporting a green economy, and contributing to a healthy community.
      If you're not sure what material belongs in your recycling cart, download the Recycle Coach app.
    • Recycle BC is a non-profit organization that is responsible for recycling of residential Packaging and Printed Paper (PPP) in British Columbia. Municipalities like New Westminster participate in this recycling program and receive funds to collect these materials on behalf of Recycle BC. This keeps recycling affordable for residents and ensures more materials get recycled! However, when contamination rates grow, Recycle BC can’t properly sort the material, which means not as much of it can be used by manufacturers who turn our recycling into new items. To meet the requirements of Recycle BC, continue to participate in the recycling program, and avoid fines for contamination we need everyone to do their part to recycle properly. 
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