Uncle Dave's Guide to Recycling

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Before we dive in, let's start by acknowledging the hierarchy of waste (illustrated here in a soul crushing manner by the Government of Canada). Putting it simply, when it comes to waste, recycling is fairly low down on the pyramid. Higher up we have reduce, reuse/repair, remanufacture/refurbish and then we finally reach lowly little recycling. So, if we're talking bang-for-buck, this article isn't it. It would be far better if you never bought that thing you're now trying to get rid of, or if you were able to pass it along to another cyclist in need. However, we all (probably) own at least one bike, helmet and set of riding clothes, and at some point down the line, those things are going to need disposal. The point is that you're better off recycling that stuff than chucking it in the bin, so that's where this article steps in.

Whoever dreamed up the idea of the externalized cost should reside somewhere in the businessman hall of fame. It probably started with some caveman, who upon finishing his meal threw his dinosaur bones into his neighbours section of the river. Maybe the idea didn’t gain momentum until an enterprising Roman cornered the market on olive futures and then convinced the local government to start a trade war with Greece. Who can say? What is known is that to really maximize shareholder value, what you need to do is maintain all of the profit while you download the consequences of your activities onto society at large. Junk food companies don’t pay for health care. Automobile companies don’t pay for roads. Gas companies don’t pay for global warming. Facebook doesn’t pay for the destruction of society. Take the profits up front and somebody else deals with the negatives? Frickin’ genius!

Getting back to that original externalized cost, if we began to unravel the truly staggering cost of garbage to society we would be shocked by the number. Who pays to dispose of all of that unnecessary packaging that shrouds your product? Who cleans up the contaminated drinking water caused by all of the chemicals slowly leaching out of a landfill? Who picks up the cans and cups littering our curbs and ditches? It sure as fuck isn’t the people that made the thing. Instead, we’ve created billion dollar systems (publicly funded, of course) just to deal with the remains of the shit that people sold us. Frickin' genius!

To completely and totally belabor the point, imagine if an individual acted out in a way similar to corporations? People shoot their neighbours (probably) for using the wrong trash can or blowing their grass clippings over to the wrong side of the lawn. Offices descend into chaos if somebody doesn’t immediately scrub their own dishes and place them back exactly where they found them. We all know that we’re supposed to be accountable for our actions but we somehow can’t wrap our brains around somebody pissing directly into our face when it’s on a large enough scale. Not only have we accepted this sort of thing, we’ve allowed for a status quo that encourages a crushing avalanche of garbage because the impacts are so far down the line and the problems belong to somebody else.

What about recycling though? While it’s true most of us have easy access to recycling, this pushes these issues out of sight and out of mind. But you only have to dig through a few waste composition studies to realize that, despite an easy to access blue bin in our back yard, we’re not doing a great of a job in diverting things from landfill. Take this recent (2021) Waste Composition Study completed by Metro Vancouver (which encompasses all of the municipalities in the Greater Vancouver area). If you were to look at the garbage thrown out by the average family (Page 25 – Single Family and Multi-Family categories):

- 20-21% is recyclable

- 34-39% is compostable

- 6-7% is textiles

Looking at those numbers another way, something like 60%+ of what is considered to be “garbage” by the citizens of Metro Vancouver, doesn’t need to go in the garbage! Drive down the road to Seattle, and things aren’t much better (judging by their 2020 Waste Composition Study – Page 26).

- 33% Recyclable or Recoverable

- 30% Compostable

For them, only 37% is non recoverable (or in other words, garbage), so again, 60%+ doesn’t belong in the garbage! And this is from the West Coast, liberal havens that are supposed to care about this stuff! By most measures, we kind of suck at this. It’s estimated that each citizen of the USA creates more than 800 kg of household waste, and that the US only recycles 35% of their municipal waste. Canada is worse at 24%!

And of course we do! Suck at this, that is. We’ve downloaded the burden to the consumer with a hope that they will do the right thing, and we hang the blame on them if it doesn’t work out. We rely on scattershot approaches and individual decisions, and flit about the edges with subtle tweaks and shaming and are surprised that we don’t see dramatic changes in the numbers?

With that in mind, well, let’s talk about how you can play your part! Change starts at home! While it sounds like I’m here to tell you that you can save the world with a few trips to the recycling depot, that’s not my goal. If you look at the data above though, we are the problem. Our leisure pursuits and purchasing habits are exactly the reason why our numbers are so terrible and finding a solution starts by understanding how the current system works and then in figuring out where the shortcomings are.

Now, I can’t possibly address how this works in every single neck of the woods. Recycling in North America is a mishmash of rules and providers. What stands in one city may very well not apply in the next. I can’t possibly go into proper disposal for everybody, everywhere. For the most part though, many of these issues are universal. By focusing on the challenges in British Columbia (and the successes) you will most likely learn something about your own system, or at least figure out how to start asking the right questions.

The other elephant in the room is all of the stuff that we don’t see. All of the things that you buy don’t just magically show up in the store. Unbox and assemble your own bike and then start to imagine how all that waste adds up for a showroom full of bicycles. And helmets. And shoes. And waterbottles. We probably don’t even see half of the waste that we’re responsible for generating, as it’s dealt with by the point of sale before we even see the item. That’s a whole other set of questions that we probably need to start asking.

Recycling in British Columbia

Amongst a sea of doom, recycling in British Columbia is actually pretty great! The best decision that we made was to make the producers responsible for much of our recycling in the form of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Retailer Take Back Programs. There’s a lot of success with our system but it can be fairly confusing if you attempt to unravel it.

Extended Producer Responsibility means that the manufacturer takes on responsibility for the life of the product. From this, you get programs where manufacturers are obligated to create the means of recycling. In BC, this includes motor oil, batteries, cell phones, car tires and thermostats.

Retailer Take Back Programs are similar, but voluntary. As an example, London Drugs has a pretty great program where they accept soft plastic, batteries and other things that aren’t curbside recyclable.

And then there’s Recycle BC.

Somewhere around 2014, the BC Government decided that the recycling of consumer packaging and paper products should be the responsibility of the companies that manufacture and sell such things. Out of this legislation arose Recycle BC, the non-profit (industry funded) organization that is now responsible for recycling most of the things you would typically put in your blue bin for curbside recycling (with a few odd little exceptions that we will touch on shortly).

The wonderful thing about this is that the BC municipal taxpayer is no longer footing the bill for residential curbside recycling, and Recycle BC is responsible (by law!) to create programs for just such a purpose. This also creates one central organization to handle the majority of what we would consider to be “recycling”, resulting in transparency and a relatively standardized process across British Columbia.

This also allows British Columbia to avoid some of the "recycling is a scam!" pitfalls of recycling. If you live in British Columbia and you stick a bunch of your stuff in your blue bin, 90% will end up getting recycled and 72% of that will happen locally (page 23 of the 2021 annual report). It isn't like this everywhere, but you should learn what is happening in your own backyard before you start shouting at people to stop recycling. Read the good news here, here and here.

The less good news is that the scope of Recycle BC is very well defined and things that fall outside of that scope present a bit of a challenge. This winds up being a small amount of material, but once you find something that fits into this Catch-22 of being recyclable but not being a part of the Recycle BC mandate, it can be quite frustrating figuring out what to do with it.

So, that’s how we handle our recycling here in British Columbia, and there are most likely similar arrangements in your corner of the world, perhaps with slightly different EPR programs, and maybe with your local municipality standing in for Recycle BC. Let’s take a look at how that breaks down for individual items.


Clothing might be our largest consumable as mountain bikers. Even if we’re just riding in old shorts and t-shirts, the wear and tear and the crashes lead to a certain percentage of clothing that just isn’t usable any longer. The good news is that this is an easy one! I think.

If your clothing is stained or soiled, be it blood, grease or mold, throw it in the garbage. Anything else can be recycled.

“But Dave! Last weekend I bent over in the Whistler lift line up and my shorts ripped right up the middle and everybody laughed at me! Surely I shouldn’t donate those shorts!” Apparently you should! Donated clothing is all kinds of things. Some of it winds up on the rack of your local thrift store. Some of it winds up as rags. Some winds up as garbage in Africa… Regardless, apparently there’s some magical sorting center somewhere that knows exactly what to do with your unwanted clothing and the best thing you can do with any un-soiled clothing is to place it in a clothing recycling bin, or drop it at your nearest thrift store. Maybe wash it first? It can’t hurt to wash it first. If you do so, there’s a 45% chance it gets resold, a 50% chance it gets turned into rags or some other product, and just a 5% chance it winds up in a landfill. That’s better than a 100% certainty of it going to landfill. This recent VIA article outlines where you can take things in the Lower Mainland.

Clothing Reycling ii

This task feels sisyphean.


Next on the list of consumables are tires and tubes. In BC, there is a program managed by Tire Stewardship BC, where a number of retailers will take back your old tires and tubes for recycling (list here). Coverage across the province is pretty good, although Squamish is strangely not represented, and Whistler only has Chromag and Comor stepping up. Tires are processed locally into mulch for landscaping/playgrounds and tubes are turned into things like bottle stoppers.

Alberta has a very similar program to BC, with a number of shops (and other recycling locations) volunteering to accept old tires and tubes for recycling. They’ve gone the extra step of creating handy little caged compounds that you can throw your bicycle tires into. That seems like fun.

In the USA, there are a few specific programs, but I don’t see much that is widespread. Both Green Guru and Alchemy Goods have tube recycling programs, but nothing for tires. RB Recycling in Portland takes tires, but you will need to get them there.

In the UK, Velorim is a fairly widespread solution for both tires and tubes. Just plug your address in and they’ll give you the nearest place to drop things off.

Australia also now has a system set up for recycling tires, but there may be small fees involved ($2 per tire, $0.50 per tube). Have a look at the Recycle Bike Tyres website for more information and for the list of shops that are participating.

Germany is chasing perfection with regards to tire recycling, with Schwalbe taking the lead. They have some pilot programs to actually recycle material from old tires back into new ones, but nothing widespread yet and no information on where you are supposed to take your old tires.

bike tyres_0

Somebody had a busy weekend!


There are a number of companies experimenting with grips made of recycled material, but I haven’t found anything specifically about recycling grips.

People using old school push-ons may have better luck. There are places that accept “miscellaneous rubber”. I contacted a few of them in my area and none of them got back to me. If you’re really persistent, they’d probably take them.

Bolt on grip users should just throw them in the garbage. The mixed rubber/plastic is really difficult to recycle. The super persistent could strip the rubber off and recycle that like a regular grip, but good luck with that mystery plastic base.

And here's a thousand dollar idea! Why doesn't somebody figure out how to turn old grips into those fancy waveform chainstay protectors we're all so fond of?

Grease, Oils and Fluids

We tend to use a lot of fluids on our bicycles, and there are some fairly specific things that should be done with any waste fluid and containers. Most importantly, don’t dump any of this stuff down the sink, or into a catchbasin. Sewage treatment plants aren’t set up to process oils and chemicals coming down the pipes from your sink or toilet, and anything dumped down a catchbasin will most likely wind up directly in the ocean. People seem to really struggle understanding that sewers and catchbasins aren't magic.

Next, don’t throw your hazardous substance containers in with the regular recycling. Anything contaminated with oil or grease needs to be recycled separately.

That’s what you shouldn’t do. It’s very difficult to figure out what you should do.

After running up against some brick walls, I got in touch with SRAM to see if they had any guidance. They made a few calls, and got back to me with some specific recommendations. However, the most important thing that I learned from them is that what we consider to be “suspension fluid” can be treated just like “lubricating oil” for motor vehicles. This will make your life a lot easier if you are searching for a solution locally.

In BC, we have the BC Used Oil Management Association (BCUOMA), which is responsible for the collection and recycling of used motor oils, used oil filters and plastic oil containers. They also accept “hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid, gear oil, heat transfer fluid or other fluid used for lubricating purposes in machinery or equipment.” This is great, because that sounds just like what we have! Suspension fluid and mineral oil for brakes both slot neatly into this definition. In BC there are many locations that accept this stuff, so you shouldn’t have all that hard of a time getting rid of your fluid and containers. For locals, the North Shore Transfer Station would be a great place to start as they do accept BCUOMA oil and oil containers, but there are others who may be closer by. If you don’t live in BC, search for motor oil disposal and it should put you on the right path.

It gets murkier is we start talking about DOT fluid. Often, the guidance from municipalities is to “ask your local mechanic if they can recycle your fluids”. This is a pretty shit recommendation. It used to be much easier to do this, and it was well known that places like Canadian Tire would accept just about anything if you brought it back to them. Most of these places got sick of dealing with spilled fluid dumped on their doorstep in the middle of the night, so no longer have programs for this.

In the Lower Mainland, I found Take My Hazardous Waste in Surrey, which seems to be the one relatively accessible location for recycling all manner of fluids, including DOT fluid. I haven’t managed to find much else, though. Unfortunately, “ask your local auto mechanic if they can recycle your fluids for you” seems to be the best advice that I can give, at this point. This is pretty weak and it seems crazy that this isn’t a part of the BCUOMA mandate.


While we’re on a losing streak, let’s talk bicycle helmets, as it doesn’t seem like there is much that can be done with these. Donating helmets isn’t a great idea. I mean…buying a used helmet of unknown provenance is a terrible idea, so I don’t think it would be correct to be on the opposite side of that transaction. Still, if the helmet is still functional, there’s probably somebody out there that can use it. Maybe posting it free on a buy-and-sell is the way to go so that you can confirm provenance to the prospective user?

Recycling doesn’t seem likely, especially as helmets turn into even more complicated masses of mixed materials connected in unnatural ways. The folks at REI looked into the issue and came to the conclusion that it’s not feasible.

Beyond that, there are an oddly large number of people on the Internet suggesting you “upcycle” your old helmet into a really ugly hanging plant pot, or a lamp or something. I mean…fill your boots, but it looks like your old helmet belongs in the garbage.


Who knew that batteries would become such an important part of our cycling experience? From lights to derailleurs to e-bikes, more and more of our experience is powered by batteries.

In BC, we have an EPR for batteries run by Call 2 Recycle. They have responsibility over all single use and rechargeable batteries, including ebike batteries. They are also active in numerous other provinces (and in the US), so plugging your postal code in here is a good bet. The US EPA also has some tools to help you figure this out.

In British Columbia, most battery retailers will accept batteries for recycling (London Drugs, Save-on Foods, Best Buy, Canadian Tire, etc.), and every recycling depot that I’ve been to collects them as well. If you’re getting rid of an e-bike battery and no one else will take it you might have luck from the retailer where you bought it. If not, Obsession, Comor and Caps all come up when I do a search, so try them.

Broken Bicycle Parts

Any bicycle part that you break should be easily recyclable, unless it's made of carbon fiber. If it’s carbon fiber, until further notice, throw it in the garbage. I’m sure there is the odd exception to this rule and maybe that needs to be a future article.

Metal bike parts are much easier. While it most likely won’t be accepted curbside, the majority of recycling depots that I’ve seen have some kind of scrap metal bin. In Metro Vancouver this includes the Burnaby Eco Waste Centre, the North Vancouver Recycling Centre, the Vancouver Zero Waste Centre, and the Richmond Recycling Depot. All of these places will have a giant bin that you can toss any metal bits into. I’ve been told that mixed metal isn’t a problem, and if it has some plastic accoutrements, that’s no big deal, either. Broken handlebars, bent disc rotors, used brake pads and smashed metal rims all can be easily recycled and turned into something else.

If that doesn’t work for you, or if your region doesn’t offer this service, any scrap metal dealer is going to be happy to take your broken metal bits. Probably.

Working Bicycles/Semi Working Bicycles/Working Bicycle Parts

You could also throw any working bicycles/bicycle parts that you no longer want into the same scrap metal bin as noted above, but there is a better use for this stuff. Assuming you don’t want to go through the hassle of selling it, or there’s nobody around that will appreciate your gift of a used but working bicycle/bicycle part, there are many organizations that will happily re-purpose your working bicycle and/or parts.

In Vancouver, this is really easy. There are several organizations that have a relationship with the Vancouver Zero Waste Centre, so if you drop your old bicycle off there, they will get it into the hands of people who will re-purpose your bicycle (Our Community Bikes, AMS Bike Co-op and Kickstand). They will salvage what they can and use that to build a fully functional bicycle. Of course, you can always drop your bicycle off directly with those organizations if that suits you better. As well, I always see old bicycles set aside at the North Vancouver Recycling Centre, so I assume something is happening with those bikes.

Another North Van Option is Bikes for Tykes, which is run locally by Obsession:Bikes. They accept used bikes from Nov. 1st to Dec. 10th every year. - Ed.

Canadian Bicycle Recycling is another option. They have 3 locations listed for Toronto and 2 in Vancouver (Ride On, I belive). Bikes Without Borders is another option in Toronto, and Bicycles for Humanity in Calgary.

In fact, it seems like donating a working bicycle is pretty easily. Most cities that I searched had some kind of option – Seattle, Portland, Boise, Kelowna, etc. I’m confident that you can figure this one out.

Water Bottles

This is one of those ones that seems really simple but isn’t, at least not in British Columbia. If you look on the bottom of your reusable cycling water bottle, there’s most likely going to be a recycling code indicating a 4 or a 5. For most places in the world, that means that your bottle will be accepted in any recycling stream capable of handling that material. Indeed in Calgary and Toronto, they tell you to put your cycling water bottles right into the blue bin.

In British Columbia, this is not the case. If you talk to the processors, they will happily handle your cycling water bottle that is coded as a 4 or a 5. Certain recycling depots will accept these as well. But if you ask the specific municipalities, they will tell you that these belong in the garbage. So what gives?

The problem here is down to how the mandate for Recycle BC is defined. We mentioned above that Recycle BC is responsible for collecting all of the blue bin items from your house. This is great! Unfortunately, a reusable plastic water bottle does not fall under Recycle BC’s scope of responsibility, so they don’t want it in their blue bins. As mentioned above, the processors have no problem recycling these items, but Recycle BC doesn’t want to be the unpaid middle man that gets your water bottle from the back of your house to the processor.

I reached out to Recycle BC to ask them about this and I got various iterations of the above in response. When I finally asked them directly what would happen to a water bottle that makes it into the system…would it get thrown out, or what? This was what they had to say:

If reusable plastic water bottles made their way into the recycling system, they would be recycled; however, I need to emphasize that plastic products (e.g. water bottles, storage bins, etc) are not accepted in our program. The Recycle BC program operates in alignment with Schedule 5 of BC’s Recycling Regulation, which obligates businesses, such as restaurants, manufacturers, and retailers, to fund the end-of-life management of the residential packaging and paper that they place in BC’s marketplace. Although the water bottle would be responsibly recycled, it is the producers of residential packaging and paper who would bear this cost.

So, there you have it. I’ll leave you to do what you will with that information. The rest of the world can (most likely) recycle them along with their laundry detergent bottles and yogurt containers.

What about compostable bottles Dave? Surely those are great and much better for the environment? I mean, yes and no.

First off, if you often lose your water bottles in the forest, then I think a compostable bottle is the best “solution” for you, aside from purchasing a better bottle cage. It will break down quicker than a regular bottle. However, don’t mistake that for some sort of permission to just go discarding these things wherever you want. And don’t throw it in your compost or yard waste bin, either. According to Cannondale, their compostable bottle takes 3 months to break down in an industrial compost system! This is why any plastic in your yard waste bin is a problem, as it won’t break down via regular composting methods and it will just get spit out the other end as plastic. As well, if that thing takes 3 months to break down under ideal conditions, imagine how long it’s going to lie there trailside if you happen to fling it into the forest? Not pretty. Oh, and as for recycling…compostable plastics are contaminants within the regular recycling process. So they’re not really recyclable.

How great are compostable plastics! They don’t degrade all that quickly in nature (or in commercial composting systems) and you can’t recycle them. Great job, industry!

Other Tools and Resources

There are so many people out there that will be happy to help tell you how to recycle something. Or, more likely, that have created an online tool to help you out.

Metro Vancouver has a tool that will give you recycling locations throughout the region for various items. Just plug in what you want to recycle and where you want to do it and it will help you out.

After that, most municipalities have a Waste Wizard to help you out. Vancouver, North Vancouver (District and City), Burnaby, Surrey, and on and on. It’s more likely that your North American city has this feature than it doesn’t.

Summary of Recycling and Disposal Methods

Category Suggested Disposal Resources and Links (BC focussed)
Clothing Recycling Depot
Tires Participating Bike Shops
Grips Garbage N/A
Grease, Oil, Suspension Fluid, Mineral Oil Brake Fluid Recycling Depot
DOT Brake Fluid Your Friendly Local Garage or Specialty Hazardous Materials Depot
Helmets Garbage N/A
Batteries Recycling Depot (small batteries) or Bike Shop (e-bike or other specialty batteries)
Broken Bikes or Parts (Carbon Fiber) Garbage N/A
Broken Bikes or Parts (metal) Recycling Depot
Working Bicycles or Parts Recycling Depot or Bicycle Rescue Organizations
Water Bottles Definitely Not in Your Blue Box N/A

In Conclusion

We started this piece by talking about how it is that we got to this point. Why is it so easy for people to just throw things into the garbage? Well, in writing this all down in one place, you can start to see how insane the system is. If recycling a stack of cycling related items requires 3-4 stops and a half day of effort (my local Zero Waste Centre can handle much of it, but I’d need a separate stop for tires, suspension fluid and any working bike parts that I had), of course most people are just going to throw it all in the garbage! It’s right there! Some guy comes by and picks it up every week or two! We make throwing things in the garbage so easy, and we make doing the right thing a bit difficult. Of course we get a result that reflects this.

Personally, I enjoy the process of recycling. It makes me feel good to pile a bunch of crap in the back of my vehicle and then wander around a recycling facility figuring out where it all goes. It makes me feel less guilty for all of the waste that I generate. If I can convince a handful of you to create a similar habit, that’s not nothing.

But meaningful change doesn’t come from individuals. The system needs to change if we’re to dramatically shift these numbers. What does that mean, exactly?

Starting with recycling, we need to recognize that a whole bunch of people aren’t willing to go any further than the edge of their property line in order to do the right thing. Ideally, we’d increase the number of items that are accepted for curbside recycling. This can be expensive though, as adding streams increases the amount of complexity of an already demanding job.

Where that isn’t possible, we need to make it easier for people to visit their local depot. There needs to be more of them, closer to people, and they need to accept more things. We need to make it easier for people to make the decision to recycle things, and we need to make it harder for people to throw things out. Deposit systems are remarkably effective at changing behavior, for example.

Those are just small pieces though. The root cause of these issues has something to with the scattered nature of responsibility. Plug “recycling depot” into google maps right now and you’ll probably be surprised by the number of locations that pop up. Wander into any one depot though and it probably doesn’t accept all of the same things as the one just down the road. Again, in BC we have 17 or so EPR programs responsible for everything from batteries to small electric power tools. Without one central control point it’s no wonder every single recycling depot is just a little bit different, and figuring out what you can take where requires research. This is just another roadblock for people to do the right thing. One agency should manage all of this stuff. Even better, one federal agency should manage it across the country.

Getting back to the hierarchy of waste, we're going to have a lot more success if we move up the food chain. Fixing recycling is focusing on cure, rather than prevention. If we can stop the disposable products and unnecessary packaging from being created in the first place, that’s going to have a much greater impact than more depots or greater curbside acceptance. We need to shift the burden away from the individual, who can only do so much, and on to the producers, who can have a massive impact even with just small little changes.

The first step in this is killing the idea of value added packaging. Things should come in plain, easily recyclable packaging that tells you what it is, protects the item in transit and that's it. Laminated, fold out packaging in 50 different colours and five different materials needs to go away. The next time you unravel a helmet from a mountain of packaging, or need a separate trip to the recycling depot to handle the detritus surrounding your new mini pump, fire an e-mail off to the manufacturer to tell them how much they suck. They won't care if you don't.

After that, we need to look at the disposability of items and fix that. Things like right-to-repair laws and rules around parts support can help to extend the life of items. If manufacturers were obligated to support their products for a set length of time, I bet we'd see a lot of changes. Either way, be it packaging or products, we need to make manufacturers an integral part of the solution. Imagine if every company did what Trek did with their bicycle packaging? Imagine if they were required to do this, by law? That would have a far greater impact than you trekking off to the recycling depot every couple of weeks.

Those sorts of solutions are going to take massive amounts of political capital. Politicians have endless numbers of large businesses asking them to do the opposite of what is suggested above. The best possible thing that you can do is, after you get home from lumbering around the city dropping off recycling at various depots, send an e-mail to your MP/Congressman/British Lord telling them how annoyed you are by the whole thing. The solutions to these problems are known, but what we need are people brave enough to initiate the change.

Uncle Dave’s Music Club

It almost feels criminal including this song at the end of such a long article. It’s too good a song to get placed at the bottom of 5,000 words on recycling. But the message fits, so let’s do it.

I don’t know much about Genesis Owusu. I know that he is Ghanaian-Australian. I think he has more of a following in Australia than he does here. I heard him talk about this song once. About how he felt a bit paralyzed for inspiration, and used that feeling to write a song about that very idea. Get Inspired is one of those songs that twists everything you’ve heard just a little bit, and just fucking bangs. Curious to see what the rest of the album looks like!

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+9 trumpstinyhands Niels van Kampenhout Timer TerryP Mike Ferrentino Andrew Major Andy Eunson Vik Banerjee Velocipedestrian

I've always wanted to see companies taxed according to their packaging.  Does Company A really want to sell their microSD card in a 30cm x 20cm blister pack? Fine, but they will be taxed a certain amount, which opens the door to Company B to sell the same microSD card on a reasonable-sized card backer for $2 less (or whatever).  Tax the problem, make sure the tax is more than enough to cover the cost of the problem, and let the market decide.


+2 bishopsmike Jotegir

this. blister pack sizing is annoyingly inversely proportional to product size - plus an associated price factor that further embiggens things.  i bet someone could come up with a neat formula to model this ratio. costco packaging is especially egregious. to further gripe - the packs are the worst to open AND to try & separate the paper from plastic for recycling. 

to summarize:  fuck blister packs

also - reminds me i need to do a tire recycling run; the garage stack is getting large. i take it MEC north van no longer takes (according to list)? 

also - great work on this piece, dave!



getting rid of blister packs is a perfectly cromulent idea.


+1 bishopsmike

I know of a municipality which started taxing disposable packaging for take-away food and drinks. Good idea because most of that packaging gets dumped in public trash bins which the municipality pays for.


+8 Sandy James Oates bishopsmike Merwinn Paul Stuart Niels van Kampenhout Jerry Willows Cr4w Timer

Thanks for the info, Dave. Very thorough, logically presented.


+5 TristanC bushtrucker Tremeer023 Sandy James Oates Timer

In my city (Germany...) there is a little truck from the city's garbage facility that drives around town and collects any hazardous fluids and chemicals (like rat poison etc) left overs. Every 4 weeks it stops for some hours near my garage,  very convenient.


+1 Cr4w

I'm living temporarily in Germany and the recycling/waste system is amazing compared to the US, where I come from. Is it a drink container? Goes back to the store to get your small deposit back, so you can buy more beer. Is it other glass? Take it to the public recycling bins. Is it metal or plastic with a recycling symbol on it? Goes in a big yellow bag for recycling. Is it paper? Goes in the paper bin. Is it food? Goes in the compost bin. Is it everything else? Goes in the trash.

I think I empty my small "trash" bin once every couple months, but the compost is going out weekly and the recycling bag twice a month.

I haven't had to get rid of anything hazardous yet, but I think there's a collection site nearby too.


0 Velocipedestrian Merwinn

Amazing, yes - but in the end most of the yellow bin "recyclable" packaging goes into the waste incineration plant or to some third or second world country (like Turkey) and gets dumped there. Because nobody and no robots can get enough really recyclable PET or PE or PVC out of these mass of plastic. Black and silver doesn't work anyway, mixed or contaminated plastic won't be recycled, and many plastics end up as simple downgraded single use devices like those woodlike brown planks that smell funny if the average guy tries to make a campfire with them.

And even in Germany there are a lot of waste "recycling facilities" that are in fact waste dumps - when they have earned enough money for that local mafia guy, they go bust and the community has to care for it and spend millions to clean the mess up. Just buy some wrecked up old industry building or ground and stuff it with waste, get an old drunkard from Poland or else as CEO and then declare bankruptcy for the firm after you sucked all the money out.

There is so much hypocrisy about recycling.

I am just trying to fix my 35yrs old washing machine, luckily I found a good used motor on ebay - but even Mieles are so expensive to repair (new motor around 400€!), plus the Miele service coming to your house would charge you at least 120€ for just looking, that buying a new washing machine at 800€ would be a cheaper solution. Ebay is filled up with old (say 6yrs and older) washing mashines with minor faults that could easily be repaired but no one does. Never to mention the chinese washing machines for 250€ that are used for 5yrs and then get thrown away.

It goes for so many products, even bicycles - all this could be repaired with decent used parts, but who would do that when you get shiny new toys for less? Thinking of all those eBikes with dead batteries...



Machine sorting of packaging waste has improved dramatically over the last few years and is now really effective. For example the Steinert sorting machine in an Alba plant near Berlin. Its still quite expensive but the cost will come down over time.



Part of why BC isn't in the offshoring of recycling game is because many municipalities still have source separated collection.  Ya, it's a bit of a pain to have to throw your containers in one bin, keep your paper separate and stick your glass in yet another bin, but if that means your recycling is actually going to get recycled, the added hassle makes a bit of sense.  It will be interesting once the technology gets to a point where machine sorting is cost effective.


+4 Tremeer023 Adrian Bostock Cr4w Jotegir

This demonstrates the externalized cost in plastics recycling and the manner in which corporate responsibility was shifted to a personal level :

Add the recycle numbers to a product which means technically it can be recycled but it's quite unfeasible on an industrial level. Brilliant work from industry.
It's disgusting and a real sucker punch, I have difficulty processing this mentally. I carry on as I know that it's better than not, but I sense that it's a worse deal for other countries that it gets sent to :

We have to make things accountable at a corporate level not this diffused personal level that absolves corporations of the responsibility - like the concept of personal carbon footprints

When the cost of recycling/reusing the waste comes down compared to throwing it away then we will see a breakthrough in the same way that renewable energy is demonstrably cheaper than coal now. There are a lot of brilliant minds working on technologies to achieve this end goal and there is a lot of hope there, but it's not going to be from the people who tell us that everything's going fine.


+1 DanL

Climate Town does a good job of explaining plastic marking


+1 Adrian Bostock

It's baffling to me that government doesn't regulate this. Want to stop plastic waste? Use government regulation to phase out non-recyclable plastic by prohibiting it from being manufactured, sold or imported to Canada. But no. Somehow it's the consumer's problem. And so much of Canada's collected plastic for recycling is either dumped in landfills or in another country.



Looking at the appointment of the head of COP28 climate talks, I'm not terribly optimistic that anything other than market forces will change a thing. And even then, the market is never level, it's always tilted.
Renewable or alternative energy sources for example, will create some extreme geopolitical fallout/issues when it becomes a better option than oil.


+3 Paul Lindsay Vik Banerjee Jotegir

China is rad, homeboy doesn't even have an e-bike. What a savage.


+2 bishopsmike mnihiser

Man, those pictures of the piles of ex-bike-share bikes are so depressing. I've been to parts of the world where a single bicycle, no matter the condition (it will be repaired... somehow) is a somewhat difficult to acquire piece of transportation for a family of 5, opens up new work opportunities, etc. I know there's no functional way to get the junk bikes from point a to point b, but damn. 

The answer to the caption question "I wonder if you could find anything useful from this sea of bikes" is a resounding yes for these places. They find a way.


+1 bishopsmike

Great article. We have so far to go with this stuff.

As far as packaging goes I've noticed a trend where smaller companies that run their own factory seem to do a far better job of keeping things simple (and recycle-able). Paul Comp, White Ind and Wheels Mfg spring to mind with their nicely designed cardboard boxes. And RaceFace and Hope for reusable plastic zip-lock bags. I'm sure there plenty others. Oh, and I've emailed companies about packaging in the past and most of the time received a "thanks, we're working on it" reply. Whether or not that's true or not remains to be seen but at least they can acknowledging they're part of the problem.


+1 bishopsmike

There is an incredible amount of research compiled here. Thank you! Now I know what to do with all the tires hanging in my garage that don't fit any bikes I currently own. 

I enjoy upcycling a lot of this stuff; disk rotors look great on the Christmas tree, and I'm working on a clock made of worn out drivetrain parts.



Great article.

Re. tire recycling in Squamish - IIRC the Landfill takes tires and recycles them.

Finding who takes DOT 4 / 5.1 is tiresome. Company A will say that Company B will take it. So you call Company B and they say Company A does.... Sigh....


+1 DanL

"the Landfill takes tires and recycles them"

Not convinced.


+1 Cooper Quinn

In BC, almost every landfill/transfer station will have a recycling facility attached to it.  If you dig through the paperwork, it's probably funded in some way by Recycle BC.  So when he says "the landfill takes them", it's not like it's just some guy standing on the face of the landfill promising to recycle your tires for you.  It means the recycling facility has something set up to take care of them.



The Springfield Tire Fire recycling program.



The answer I was given at my local recycle/transfer station was to pour the DOT fluid into cat litter until it had completely soaked in then put it in the trash so it won't leach into the landfill.



I’m in Bellingham and I take my tires to Les Scwhabb to recycle. They didn’t charge me anything the last few times I went and they charged $5 the first time. Fair deal.



Unless things have changed since my last oil change in October, Canadian Tire still accept all oils and filters in their green containers outside the stores (in Quebec at least). I just pour mineral oil/ motor oil/coolant or whatever else in that category into containers and sharpie what's in them on the container. What happens after that I don't know, but they take it back. 

I've sold or given away most of my old tires and give away some still good parts to a local "bike recycling" place. They take what's good and dispose of what they don't need, but at least they can salvage some stuff. Usually my old parts are still usable as I take care of my stuff.

I find that nowadays, when I buy something I always think about the long term keeping of those things, and it's probably why I don't buy useless stuff and why it takes me so long to decide on what to buy. I'm the kind of guy to clean his winter boots after the snow has melted and puts then back in their box for next winter. I gave away my 10 year old boots this winter because my arch had flattened and my feet got longer (true story, I had to replace all my shoes!).

My next project is to replace the leather on my 12 year-old WTB Devo saddle since it's still good and I like the shape. I just need to find some cover material and a few hours.



Cavemen did not hunt dinosaurs, unless you count birds as dinosaurs, as they had been extinct over 65 million years before our they existed.



Pfft. Next you’re going to tell me that this actual photo of cavemen fighting a dinosaur is fake.


+1 Cooper Quinn

Your opening paragraph on externalized costs is one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a long time...except for leaving a potential distractor wrt cavemen and dinosaurs.  I'm glad that you've included this actual photo to counter this, but you could have avoided the situation.

Great article, chasing down recycling information in any given community is a much larger task than it should be.



This was easily one of the most entertaining and informative articles I’ve ever read on NSMB. I laughed! I cried! I learned!

Thanks Uncle Dave!


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