Most plastics recycled in Canada stays in North America

TORONTO — Most post-consumer plastics packaging collected in Canada finds a home in that country and the United States, according to a recently released study.

More than 80 percent of scrap plastic packaging collected in Canada in 2013 — 528 million pounds —was reclaimed in Canada and the U.S., according to the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. Data from 2013 and the recent past indicate collected plastics routinely remain in North America rather than moving to overseas markets.

“It is evident the plastics recycling industry in North America is an important element in the circular economy,” noted CPIA President and CEO Carol Hochu in a news release.

Most plastics recycled in Canada stays in North America (2)


Given the extensive North American recycling industry, China’s Green Fence policy is having low impact on the Canadian sector, indicated CPIA Vice President of Sustainability Krista Friesen. China has been cracking down on its imports of contaminated scrap plastic to help curb pollution.

The study commissioned by CPIA shows more than 684 million pounds of scrap plastic packaging was reported collected in Canada in 2013. The 9 percent increase over 2012 was due to higher volumes as well as participation by more recycling firms in the survey. More than 500 companies recycling plastic voluntarily provided information for “2013 Postconsumer Plastics Recycling in Canada.”

The study examined bottles, rigid plastics, film, bags and outer wrap. Typical end uses of recycled materials include fleece jackets, new bottles, pipe, pallets, crates, decking and lawn and garden products.

Recyclers reported lots of available capacity to boost recycling volumes. Film and bag recycling in Canada is running at only 44 percent of capacity. Non-bottle rigid recycling is at about 72 percent of capacity utilization.

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