Recycling Contamination

The Cost of Contamination

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.

Our Goal

The City of New Westminster is committed to reducing our recycling contamination to under 3% by July 2024. 

How We're Going To Do It

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

Beginning in spring 2022, staff will be applying lid labels to your recycling and yard and food scraps carts which will identify acceptable and unacceptable materials.

City staff will also 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. 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. 

Contamination Enforcement

  1. TAG
    Reminder that unacceptable materials were found in your cart
    Formal bylaw notice
  3. FINE
    $150 fine issued if unacceptable materials continue to be found in your cart
  • What Materials Don't Belong

    Here are some of the common items that DO NOT belong in your recycling cart:
    • Most of the products we buy are not recyclable. Only their packaging is. Just because a product is made of plastic or glass (e.g., plastic toys, glass cups, plastic clothes hangers) doesn’t mean it can be recycled.
      Remember, packaging CAN be recycled, but products CANNOT be recycled.
    • Some items can be recycled, just not in our curbside collection program. These items must be returned to a recycling depot.

      Plastic bags and other soft flexible plastics

      Scrap metal
      Automotive parts, chains, pots, frying pans, hardware

      Clothing, rags, shoes

      Hard and soft-cover books

      Cell phones, computers, small appliances, light strings

      Drinking glasses, windows, mirrors, ceramics

    • Hazardous material can be a serious concern 
      for collection or processing staff. Carts found to contain hazardous material will not be collected.
      Examples include, propane tanks, batteries, flammable or combustible containers.
    • Items grouped together, such as several
      recyclables stuffed into a box or bag, cannot be sorted which means they cannot be recycled. 
  • Engineering Operations
    T 604-526-4691