From coffee cups to oil cans

B.C. pilots coffee cup recycling for IC&I locations

Every year, millions of coffee cups are disposed of in the Return-It, at industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) locations and public spaces. To help address this challenge, Return-It and Metro Vancouver are working with Tim Hortons and A&W Canada to pilot British Columbia’s first initiative to recycle coffee cups in commercial and public buildings.

Currently, coffee cups are collected and recycled through the province’s residential recycling program, however, more than half of hot and cold coffee cups that are disposed of as garbage in Vancouver come from IC&I sources. This pilot will measure and identify a recycling solution that diverts this material from the landfill.

“Achieving less waste by improving recycling systems reflects the public’s expectations of strong environmental stewardship in the region,” said Sav Dhaliwal, Metro Vancouver chair. “By addressing the recyclability of these common items, this pilot is an important first step towards zero waste and the transition to waste prevention and the circular economy.”

Available to consumers today, the pilot program seeks to find a recycling solution for disposable coffee cups that are not included under the residential recycling program. The initiative is evaluating a new collection network at commercial and public buildings in five downtown Vancouver locations, with customized bins designed to determine the most effective signage and configuration. Materials – including coffee cups, lids and sleeves – collected during the pilot will be used to test and develop new recycling solutions.

“At last count, Vancouverites were throwing out 2.6 million poly-coat paper cups a week. These cups represent a significant amount of otherwise recyclable material that is heading to landfill or the incinerator,” said Pete Fry, a Vancouver city councillor and member of the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Committee and National Zero Waste Council. “Ultimately, we need to change our relationship with single use items – but in the meantime, diverting this stock from the waste stream is an essential intervention and this industry-led pilot is innovative, convenient and worth celebrating.”

Managed by Return-It, the pilot will evaluate recycling end markets for the items collected, test the marketability of different disposable coffee cup materials (such as laminated cups), encourage public participation, and determine the viability of a broader, permanent program. Recycling Alternative will support the operations of this pilot and The City of Vancouver is supporting the program by providing building access and maintenance staff. Once the pilot wraps up, results and learnings will be gathered to develop next steps.

The six-month pilot – which accepts all brands of coffee cups – will include a market analysis to determine the long-term viability of a broader program. Bin locations can be found at

Nova Scotia launches oil container recycling

Businesses and consumers in Nova Scotia can now recycle their used oil and glycol products and containers.

Under new provincial regulations, collectors registered with Used Oil Management Association (UOMA) Atlantic will collect at no cost, used oil and glycol (antifreeze), used oil filters, used oil and glycol containers, Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) containers, and aerosol containers for lubricant and parts cleaner from waste generators such as garages. Consumers can drop off containers and used products at a network of collection facilities.

UOMA Atlantic is a non-profit organization established by the producers of oil and glycol products to manage the collection and recycling of their products from the point of production to end-of-life treatment. It is approved by Nova Scotia Environment to manage and deliver the used oil and glycol recycling program in Nova Scotia on behalf of the producers of these products.

“We are pleased to be a partner in changing the way that used oil and glycol products are disposed in Nova Scotia”, said Jean Duchesneau, the general manager of UOMA Atlantic. “This program has brand owners take responsibility for their products to ensure they are collected and given a second life.”

UOMA Atlantic visited more than 1,600 generators across the province to introduce the program and establish a network of Collection Facilities for residents. More than 550 sites have registered to collect.