Announcing changes to Recycling Programs
Best practices for recycling Plastic Film (Plastics Bags & Soft Plastic) is to not put it in your curbside or mixed plastic’s recycling programs. Plastic film is best collected for recycling if collected separately at local depots.
Although this change will become part of the government mandated Provincial Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship program in May 2014, we will be implementing this change now to improve the quality of product from the Sea to Sky so that we can successfully move it to an end market recycler.
Only #2 and #4 plastic film is acceptable. #5 Polyethlene (Lumber Wrap) is only recyclable under a commercial program.
Prior to February of 2013, most North American recyclable plastics were shipped to China. In February 2013, China took a strong stand and new policy on recycling shipped to them now referred to as the “Green Fence”. This policy bans the import of all but the cleanest bales of recyclables. They have been working on cleaning up the process of the imports and how it is dealt with at their end, resulting in a stoppage of plastics exports from North America and the current stockpiling of mixed plastics.
Before the “Green Fence” when we shipped our plastics to larger recyclers, they may have high graded some of the rigid plastics out, shredded, granulated and packed the balance into bales and exported it to China.
Apart from the fact that plastic film in mixed plastics or curbside is the largest cause of contamination as often bags contain other non-recyclable wastes, technology to separate this product from other recyclables is still lacking. All commingled recyclables are separated through automation. Plastic film often gets wound up in the collection and processing equipment, requiring maintenance that costs money and time and creates inefficiencies for processing other recyclables.
Returning plastic bags to a depot is the most effective way to recycle them. The plastics stay clean and recyclable. The clean bags are collected or transported to Carney’s Recycle Ctr where they are baled as their own product which can now be sent to an end market recycler.
Historically, higher labour costs and environmental safety standards made processing scrap plastics into raw materials more expensive in North America than China. However, with a continued demand for plastic resin and a reduced supply, it may raise prices enough to allow North America to hire and invest in new technologies to recycle plastic locally.
This change aligns the residents of the Sea to Sky corridor with the industry and will improve the recycling efforts for all.