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Canada’s packaging recycling rate sees growth

New report confirms recycling efforts continue to increase the amount of post-consumer plastic packaging being recycled across Canada

Canada’s packaging recycling rate sees growth

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) has released a new report informing Canadians that their recycling efforts continue to increase the amount of post-consumer plastic packaging being recycled across Canada. While recycling rates in general across Canada are stagnant, the plastics industry realized an additional 3% of plastic recycled in 2014 compared to 2013, as reported by Moore Recycling Associates Inc. This increase is primarily the result of more plastic packaging collected for recycling, specifically plastic bags and film and HDPE (#2) bottles. In total, at least 320.7 million kilograms of post-consumer plastic were collected in Canada for recycling.

The results are derived from a voluntary survey that is sent out to more than 500 companies that handle recycled plastics in North America. These companies are made up of reclaimers, exporters, brokers, material recovery facilities (MRFs) and other handlers of used plastics.

This year’s data, along with that of previous years, consistently indicates that material collected in Canada routinely remains in North America rather than moving to overseas markets. “We are proud to report that 78% of the plastic material reported was reclaimed in Canada or the USA. This amounts to more than 250 million kilograms,” says Carol Hochu, President and CEO of CPIA.

Plastic packaging collected for recycling includes plastic bottles, non-bottle rigid plastics such as deli, dairy, bakery, and produce containers, and flexible film packaging such as plastic bags and overwrap. These valuable resources are recycled into many new useful items such as fleece jackets, new plastic bottles, pipe, pallets, crates, buckets, decking, and other lawn and garden products.

The reported plastic quantities represent an increase of 800,000 kilograms for bottles and an increase of 7.8 million kilograms for bags and film, in large part because of plastic bags and film that are collected through curbside recycling programs.

“Canada’s plastic recycling infrastructure is well-established and working hard to increase recycling opportunities for everyone. With CPIA’s efforts and the entrepreneurship of the Canadian plastics recycling industry, the survey results show the industry is integral to the circular economy,” says Krista Friesen, VP of Sustainability at CPIA. “While a 3% increase may not seem like much, it is important to remember that we are seeing continued improvement in the lightweighting of packaging, so to realize any increase means that a larger volume of plastics were recovered.”

To put the issue of lightweighting in context, the average weight of a PET water bottle has dropped more than 57% in 15 years, from 19 grams in 2000 to 8 grams in 2015.

Report – “2014 Post Consumer Plastics Recycling in Canada” (April 2016)

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