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Postconsumer plastic recycling increased in 2011, says study

By Joe Whitworth , 21-Dec-2012

Recycling of postconsumer plastic increased by 24% in Canada last year, according to a new report.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) said the increase is the result of more material collected for recycling as well as more companies providing recycling information.

A minimum of 268.5 million kilograms of postconsumer (including post commercial) plastic material was collected for recycling in Canada, reported Moore Recycling Associates Inc.

The packaging collected for recycling comes from plastic bottles, non-bottle rigid plastics (deli and dairy containers, bakery and fruit containers), plastic film, and outer wrap and foam polystyrene.

More to do

However, the CPIA recognizes there is more to do as Canadian plastic recyclers want more supply.

There is underutilized capacity creating ample opportunity for consumers and businesses to supply our recyclers with more plastics, they said.  

“For instance, it is estimated that the film and bag recycling capacity in Canada to be at 38% utilization of the capacity.

“There is also growth in demand for good quality non-bottle rigid plastic, including PET thermoforms and Polyethylene and Polypropylene containers and bulky rigid items, as recycled bottle supplies continue to be tight.”

Overall, 85% of the material reported was reclaimed in Canada or the US, and 13% was exported overseas with the destination for the remaining 2% unknown.

This every-day packaging serves an essential purpose by preserving product integrity and once completed the packaging is an excellent resource for new consumer goods,” said Cathy Cirko, VP of CPIA.

Simplifying collection practices for the public to recycle all plastic containers is helping grow plastic recycling.”

More recycling

The voluntary study, in its third year, surveyed more than 500 companies in North America, including 127 Canadian firms.

Recycled plastic quantities reported for 2011 represent an increase of 19% for bottles (29.3m kilograms) and 70% for non-bottle rigids (21m kilograms) primarily due to an increase in recovery.

There was a 14.7m kilogram increase in PET Bottle recycling according to the same set of reclaimers responding in 2010 and 2011.

The non-bottle rigid plastic stream saw the substantial increase due in part to more municipalities expanding collection to all plastic containers, beyond just bottles, said the CPIA.

Non-bottle rigid plastic saw a substantial increase in 2011 due to both an increase in recovery year-over-year and to some segregated resin material that was likely recycled but not reported in 2010.

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