Vancouver millennials not great recyclers, study finds

But is it fair to expect the same recycling outcomes from young people, who often live in multi-unit buildings and don't have cars to take materials to recycling depots?

Many millennials engage in 'convenience recycling,' Multi-Materials B.C. study finds

A new study from the organization set to take over Vancouver's recycling finds Vancouverites, and millenials in particular, aren't great recyclers. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Turns out a lot of Vancouverites don't quite get it when it comes to recycling, and the head of Multi-Materials B.C. is trashing millennials over some of it.

The problem, MMBC managing director Allen Langdon says, is with "convenience recyclers": people who recycle only when the appropriate receptacle is readily available.

He says a study of recyclers conducted in June, about two years after B.C.'s new recycling program was launched, found 35 per cent of millennials are convenience recyclers.

"In the younger cohorts and in places like Vancouver, we have more convenience recyclers whereas people in the older cohorts and people living in other places in B.C. make a more dedicated attempt to make sure they're recycling whether it's convenient or not," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Langdon says recycling should be more convenient in a city like Vancouver, even though many people — especially millennials — live in multi-unit buildings that might not have easy curbside recycling and may also lack a car to take things like styrofoam to recycling depots.

'Over-recycling' a problem too

The study found millennials are the least likely to check MMBC's recycling guide for accepted materials — only 12 per cent do that — and the most likely to "over-recycle"  meaning they recycle materials they simply assume are recyclable. Twenty-two per cent do that, according to the study.

"They tend to recycle what they've determined is recyclable," Langdon said. "In many cases they may be putting material in the bin that isn't recyclable."

On Oct. 3, the City of Vancouver will stop handling the city's recyclable trash and MMBC will take over.

While the survey found Vancouverites are somewhat more likely than the average British Columbian to consider recyclability when making purchases, Langdon says there remains some work to be done with younger people in the city.

He says over the coming years, MMBC will be working to educate millennials about how to make recycling easier and where they can take their recyclables.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Vancouverites not great at recycling, MMBC says, millennials to blame