What happens to your Recyclables once they leave GIRO?

After you have dropped off your recyclables at GIRO the items are bagged or baled to then be transported to the various organizations that are involved in the recycling stream.


Once a week all refundables; glass (pop, wine, beer, liquor), plastic drink bottles, aluminum pop and beer cans, and food glass jars, as well as Electronic waste; TVs, monitors, VCRs, printers, CDs, tape cassettes and stereo equipment are collected by Island Return It (Encorp Group).

The food glass is sent to the Victoria Materials Depot (VMD) which is a major aggregate recycling and processing plant. This facility recycles concrete, ceramics, rock, asphalt, glass and construction waste. All these materials go through various stages of processing to be turned into road construction materials which keeps them out of the landfill. Residential food glass containers are also sent to Stone Pacific in Duncan.

The refundable glass is either returned to the Brewery for reuse or transported to a smelting plant to be turned back into glass.

Once a week bales of cardboard, plastics (PETE, HDPE, LDPE), as well as mixed paper, newspaper and mixed plastics are transported in the GIRO truck to Cascade Recovery at Duke Point.


  • HDPE (high density polyethylene) has a higher density in comparison to other plastics. HDPE is a hard resistant plastic making it ideal for milk containers, tupperware, shampoo bottles, bleach bottles and motor oil bottles. HDPE is non-biodegradable and can take centuries to decompose, so it is imperative to reuse and recycle this plastic.
  • LDPE (low density polyethylene) is a softer plastic used to make squeezy bottles and plastic bags. This plastic has no value.
  • PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) is a strong, stiff polymer used to make polyester clothing, beverage bottles, dish soap bottles. PETE and HDPE are a higher grade of plastic that have a consistent market value. They are transported to Merlin Plastics in Vancouver where they are shredded, cleaned and turned back into HDPE and PETE.
  • The remaining mixed plastics have no value. They will be downcycled into plastics that are not recyclable.

Cardboard and Paper products

The cardboard, mixed paper, sorted office paper and newsprint are all sold as commodities on the open market.

  • Sorted office paper SOP (paper containing no glue or dyes) can be recycled up to seven times before virgin wood stock has to be added during the paper making process. This paper has a consistent market value. We therefore encourage islanders to separate office paper out from mixed paper, in doing so you will allow paper to be recycled again and again.
  • Mixed paper (magazines, junk mail, envelopes, calendars) has little value and is downcycled into kleenex, tissue paper and wrapping paper, all of which can not be recycled. We therefore encourage islanders to find alternatives for wrapping presents. Poster paper, newspaper and fabric are all good options.
  • Cardboard and boxboard have some value and are sold as a commodity on the open market and turned back into cardboard.

Product Care Program materials

Paint cans, aerosols, lightbulbs, smoke detectors, flammable liquids and pesticides are all collected as part of the Product Care Program. High volumes of paint cans are dropped off at GIRO, and they are packed into large totes and picked up by Product Care every two weeks. Other materials like aerosols and flammable liquids are stored in containers until we have enough for a load. All paint collected by Product Care is sent to a consolidation facility in the Lower Mainland.

The paint is separated into latex (water-based) and alkyd (oil-based) paint. High grade recyclable water based paint is reprocessed into paint and coating products. Lower grade recyclable paint is used as a raw material in the manufacturing of concrete products (blocks, barriers, etc.). Paint aerosols are separated into liquid paint, metal container and propellant. Pesticides and flammable liquids are consolidated by product type and properties. These materials are sent to downstream processors for recycling, energy recovery, incineration or landfill.

All household batteries are boxed and sent weekly to Call 2 Recycle. They are then transported to a recycling plant in Trail B.C, where they are turned back into batteries.

Harris Gilmore Recycling in Victoria collect all the inkjets, toner cartridges and photocopy toner bottles. These get either reused or recycled as raw material. Any cartridges that are re-usable, are supplied to companies that re-manufacture them. Harris Gilmore supply most of the re-manufacturers on Vancouver Island and all over the Lower Mainland (Vancouver). These re-manufacturers supply individual business offices, government offices and residential customers with recycled inkjets or toner cartridges. They clean them, replace worn parts, and re-fill them with toner or ink.

All the packing materials are recycled in Victoria or Vancouver.

Non-re-usable cartridges are shipped to large raw material recyclers. These material recycling companies break down the components by shredding them, so they can be recycled as raw plastic pellets, for recycled plastic furniture manufacture, or reformed as plastic for toner cartridges, or other products. The metal is also melted down, or shredded, to be re-used as a raw material again.

Appliances – large and small and miscellaneous scrap steel

ABC Scrap in Nanaimo transfer our thirty foot metal bin every two weeks. They remove the freon from the fridges and freezers before shredding the steel and mixing it with denser steel like cars and heavy machinery to bring up the overall density. The steel is then shipped to steel mills in the States and to countries in Asia. Due to the present glut in the steel market we currently make no money on scrap steel which is why we continue to ask for a donation to drop off a large appliance and a suggested donation for all other scrap. It is still highly beneficial to recycle scrap steel as it is a non-renewable resource and more energy efficient to recycle steel than to mine for virgin ore.

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals

We have two bins, one for Aluminum (non-ferrous), and one for scrap steel (ferrous).
Once full the aluminum bin is squished with a backhoe to allow more space for drop offs. This happens several times before the bin is completely full and then the container is removed by ABC Scrap. This transfer happens approximately twice a year.

ABC sell most aluminum to the domestic market (North America) due to an increase in demand and manufacturing, car components being one of them.

The scrap steel bin fills to capacity every ten days, it is then transferred by ABC. The Freon is safely removed by their certified recovery tech and sent to a recovery centre in Ontario where it is refurbished for reuse.

Scrap steel is also being consumed more and more domestically due to higher demand for manufactured products. China though once the largest consumer of North American scrap steel, now have a large enough developed infrastructure that supplies enough scrap to feed their own needs and sell surplus scrap to many Southeastern Asian countries. Turkey is still the worlds largest consumer of scrap steel, but it is purchasing mainly from the East coast of the States and Europe.

Copper another non-ferrous metal is dropped off at GIRO in many forms; household wire, piping, pots and pans, cords from all non-working appliances. All salvaged copper is sorted and categorized based on quality and grade. Once there is enough collected it is purchased by ABC Scrap. They then sell it to China, who still buy the bulk of the worlds copper scrap.

Batteries are recycled to the Tech smelter plant in Trail BC, which is one of the world’s largest plants for the recycling and processing of lead and zinc.

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