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How To Recycle Hard-To-Recycle Items

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Being located on an island, the Victoria Capital Regional District has a lot of limitations on where and how it can handle our neighbourhoods' waste. The more that can be composted or recycled the better, cutting down on pollution and giving us more room to develop and live.

And a lot of it can be — you might be surprised at how many items can go into your daily recycling. Plastic bags? Recyclable. Foam egg cartons? Recyclable. Aluminum aerosol containers, Pringles cans, plastic garden pots? All recyclable.

What can't you recycle? Furniture, plastic dishwashers, mixed material goods (such as running shoes and certain kinds of lined bags), sanitary hygiene products, dental floss, rubber bands, dryer sheets and lint, cigarettes, vacuum bags (and contents), foil snack bags, butter wrappers, cellophane, bubble- and cling-wrap, ziplock and garbage bags, pet waste, hair, cotton (balls, pads and swabs), bread clips and ties, baby diapers and wipes, mattresses and box springs (sometimes), foam board insulation, and noxious weeds.

Everything else can either go in your compost, your daily recycling, or to a larger recycling depot.

When trying to find out what goes where, the fastest way is to check Recyclepedia, where you can choose the kind of item you're trying to get rid of and get a list of the nearest appropriate depots.

London Drugs also has a comprehensive recycling program that accepts a lot of unusual waste, or you can double check with the RCBC Hotline at 1-800-667-4321.

But if you'd rather go no farther, here's a quick list of some of the stranger items you can recycle in the CRD, and where to take them.

Appliances & Power Tools

Small appliances, power tools, and outdoor power equipment — everything "from toasters to treadmills" — can be accepted at most Return-It Electronics and Bottle Depot locations. See a list of recyclable items and local drop-offs at CESA's ElectroRecycle.ca website.

Batteries & Cell Phones

Batteries (rechargeable and single-use) and old cell phones can be dropped off at most Call2Recycle locations. This includes Pharmasave, London Drugs, Crystal Pool, and even some library branches.

Most mobile device stores and repair shops will also take old phones and phone accessories for recycling, such as Rogers, Fido, Telus, and The Source.


Photo of a stack of old books. Wikimedia Creative Commons.Hard and soft cover books both can't go in your curbside recycling. Books that are in good condition can be donated to your local thrift store or library (if they're less than 5 years old), or sold to used bookstores. (Make sure to call before bringing them.)

Encyclopedias, out of date textbooks, Reader's Digest books, or books that are mouldy, damaged, or musty have to be taken to a depot. Island Return-It and Hartland Landfill both have programs for handling hardcover and softcover books.

Coat Hangers

Coat hangers in good condition are accepted by most local dry cleaners. Otherwise they can go in your regular metal or plastic recycling.


Many optometrists will accept old eyeglasses for recycling or charity donation, including Walmart Vision, Superstore Eyewear, and Visions Optical.

Lightbulbs & Lamps

Lightbulbs and lamps can be left at most recycling depots, and lighting and hardware stores such as RONA. Get more details at LightRecycle.ca.

Media: CDs, DVDs, Video Games, Floppy Disks & Tapes

Starting in 2012, tapes were added to the list of acceptable Return-It Electronics items, including audio and video tapes, 8 track tapes, and reel to reel tapes. They can be taken to any Return-It Electronics drop location.

(Note: This includes plastic tape and CD cases. Don't put them in your curbside recycling.)

Patio Furniture

Hartland Landfill accepts plastic lawn chairs and patio furniture, as well as plastic storage containers, garbage cans, plant pots, and clean drums and pails.

Propane Tanks & Sheet Metal

Large and volatile metal items like propane tanks and sheet metal are only accepted by certain kinds of collection sites. Ellice Recycle is one. Some will even pay you for your scraps, like Schnitzer Steel.


Photo of an old thermostat. Wikimedia Creative Commons.

That's right, thermostats have their own recycling program. Find a list of local drop-off points at SwitchTheStat.ca.

Many drop-offs are located in hardware supply and service stores, such as Sinclair Supply and Andrew Sheret.


Toys can often be resold or donated on sites such as Used Victoria, Craigslist, Kijiji, or Freecycle. Toys in good condition can also be donated to many thrift stores and non-profit charities.

Electronic toys designed for children 14 and under that are no longer in usable condition can be recycled through the BC Electronic Toy Stewardship Program. This includes interactive plush toys, R/C toys, ride-on toy vehicles, electronic board games, hand held game devices, and electronic promotional items (like you might receive in kids' meals).

Want more information? Make sure to check out Multi Materials BC's Recycling In BC website.

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