Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure committee is moving ahead with a plan to recycle clear PET clamshell containers as well as all mixed rigid plastics like egg cartons and bakery trays.
A recycling plant will be built for the city next March to take on the new load.
The announcement comes after a year-long pilot program conducted at the Dufferin Material Recovery Facility – which handles about half of the city’s recycling – demonstrated the feasibility of that MRF to sort rigid plastics to the specifications of plastics recyclers, said the report.
The Blue Bin program in Toronto currently accepts plastic bottles, jugs, jars, tubs and lids. The city will now become the third major Canadian city – after Ottawa and Calgary – to recycle clamshells.
While Toronto has been developing a project to recycle the plastic containers for over a year, a spokesman for the city’s waste management department explained that the program had to be held back until the city could find a buyer for the recycled products and make the containers consistent. “People would go crazy if we sorted (plastic) and then put them back in the landfill,” said Jim Harnum, the general manager of the city’s Solid Waste Management Services department. “We want to sell it to somebody so that they can reuse it and make a different product.”
Once they had a buyer, the waste-management department had to ensure that food packagers used the same type of plastic – PET – for their containers. Without consistency, recycling the containers would be fruitless since the end product wouldn’t hold together. “Until recently, the city could not recycle plastic clamshell packaging because [it was made from] multiple plastic resins, which existing sorting technology could not process to satisfy market specifications,” said a recent report from Solid Waste Management Services.