North America – ‘Recycling of plastic packaging across Canada has increased by 9% in a single year,’ announced Carol Hochu, president and ceo of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), at the recent IdentiPlast conference in the Italian capital Rome. In total, some 311 000 tonnes of post-consumer plastics was collected for recycling last year.
An advocacy association representing the majority of the 3170 companies along the value chain, the CPIA’s ongoing support to municipal programmes across Canada – both kerbside and depot – have enabled recycling access rates of 67% for retail shopping bags and 56% for film and other bags, Hochu told delegates. More than 80% of the plastic material reported was reclaimed in either Canada or the USA, which equated to approximately 240 000 tonnes.
‘We are now expanding our film recycling efforts,’ Hochu said. ‘Contamination is an issue, especially with other types of film – for example, clothing packaging film with paper labels stuck to them.’ To this end, a dedicated film recycling project was launched last April. ‘Material collected in the first four months showed high levels of non’PE contamination,’ Hochu confirmed.
The results are based on a voluntary survey of some 500 companies that handle recycled plastics in North America. Hochu also shared findings from a Neilson study of popular opinion about how best to utilise non-recyclable materials: energy recovery was deemed the best option by 89% of respondents, with 5% preferring landfilling.
The words ‘energy recovery’ sparked debate in Rome, leading several speakers to insist that waste-to-energy recovery in Europe should not count as recycling. EU representative and legal expert Dr Helmut Maurer observed: ‘Our way of counting recycling is flawed. Incineration is not recycling.’
Despite being ‘very impressed’ with the wide range of modern multi-layer plastics, he stressed that they are hardly ever recycled. ‘The reality after use is nothing to cheer about,’ Maurer argued. ‘We are lying to ourselves.’
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