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Canada’s plastic packaging recycling rate rises again: study

The study, conducted by the CPIA, found that the increase was the result of more plastic packaging collected, specifically PET bottles, PE clear film, and PE agricultural film.


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June 5, 2018 by Canadian Plastics

With access to plastic recycling programs nearing 100% in Canada, the nation’s recycling rate for plastic packaging increased by almost 1% in 2016 compared to 2015, a new study shows.

Conducted by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), the new report – called Post-Consumer Plastics Recycling in Canadafound that the increase in 2016 of 0.9% was the result of more plastic packaging collected, specifically PET bottles (#1), PE clear film and PE agricultural film.

In total, at least 325 million kilograms of post-consumer (including commercial) plastic packaging were collected in Canada for recycling, the study found.

The 2016 Post Consumer Plastics Recycling in Canada study was conducted for CPIA by More Recycling, and drew on results derived from two voluntary surveys that were sent out to more than 1000 companies that handle recycled plastics in North America. These companies comprise reclaimers, exporters, brokers, and other handlers of used plastics.

This new information comes following a CPIA report completed earlier this year that the network of recycling programs across Canada for plastic packaging has almost fully matured. More Canadians can recycle a wider range of plastic bottles and non-bottle plastic packaging, according to CPIA’s 2017 Canadian Residential Plastics Packaging: Recycling Program Access Report.

The access report confirmed that nearly every Canadian household continues to be able to recycle PET and HDPE (#2) plastic beverage containers (98% to 100%) and that access to recycling for other PET and HDPE bottles, jugs, and jars remains consistent at 94% to 96%. But in addition, tracking shows that recycling recovery programs are expanding collection for polystyrene (PS). The number of Canadian households that now has access to recycling programs that accept PS rigid packaging such as clear clamshells has increased to 71%, up from 63% in 2014.

The study also found that:

  • 92% of Canadian residents live within 10km of a retailer that accepts plastic shopping bags or reside in a community that includes it in its recycling program
  • 27 million Canadians or 83% reside within 16 km of a retail location accepting plastic bags
  • Population access through retail locations is as high as 94% in British Columbia
  • Most other provinces also show high levels of access and all provinces exceed a 60% access rate for plastic bag recycling at stores
  • Residential recycling programs access rate is 70% nationally
  • R2R recycling program access rate is 77% nationally
  • Combined residential recycling program and R2R national access rate is 92%

“We are pleased to see increases in both the amounts of plastic material collected – up by nearly 1% – and that more of these plastic materials are reported as being reclaimed in Canada, up to 84% from 79%,” CPIA president and CEO Carol Hochu said in a statement.