Plastics recycling grows in Canada

A new report from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association indicates that the recycling rate for postconsumer plastics is growing, though by how much is uncertain. The problem is that some of the reported increase is a result of new recycling activity but some is a result of improved reporting and there are significant data issues in data collection in this field.

Despite the data problems it seems clear not only from this report but from other plastics recycling initiatives that Canadian recycling of post-consumer plastics is on the increase and that there is significant market demand from processors for more material.

The study reports that 268.5 thousand tonnes of post-consumer plastic was recycled in Canada in 2011, an increase of 24% over what was reported in 2010. According to a different study conducted for CPIA and published earlier this year, total plastics disposed of in Canada is 2,800 tonnes, meaning that somewhat less than 10% of plastics used in Canada are currently being recycled. GallonDaily cautions that all numbers may be less than totally reliable, but at least they give an indication of how much more work remains to be done in the plastics recycling chain.

Given their professed interest in product and packaging environmental stewardship, in economic development and provision of jobs, and in the reality that virtually all use of recycled material has lower overall environmental impact than use of virgin raw materials, GallonDaily continues to wonder why governments are not doing much more to stimulate development of new industries that use recycled materials as inputs.

A summary of the CPIA study 2011 Postconsumer Plastics Recycling in Canada and a link to the full report (free) is available at 

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