Canadian Plastics

Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Association suspends operations

The Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Association (CPRA) has announced that it has suspended operations, and is seekin...

December 17, 2007   Canadian Plastics

The Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Association (CPRA) has announced that it has suspended operations, and is seeking other alternatives to ensure the continued diversion of polystyrene from the waste stream.

“Our challenge has been that we’re an industry association,” explained CPRA chair Roman Talkowski. “To succeed today, you have to be entrepeneurial and highly adaptive to changing market conditions.”

CPRA has dedicated itself to processing and marketing post-consumer polystyrene as recycled resins to North American manufacturers. The association’s members have invested nearly $7 million in recycling equipment since the CPRA commenced operations in 1991. However, over that period, the association noted it had to contend with high fixed costs, single material dependence, and blue box volumes that fell short of capacity.

Following Toronto’s decision to accept polystyrene in its blue box program in 2008, the association spent $300,000 on new sorting equipment in anticipation of higher volumes. However, because the plastics recycling is a North American market trading in U.S. dollars, the weaker greenback resulted in a 30 per cent decline in revenue for the association.


“Even though we had made a significant investment, we couldn’t hold on until Toronto’s volumes kicked in,” said Talkowski. “We became a victim to timing. We simply cannot continue to sustain the operation.”

According to the association, the CPRA has met with financial advisors to determine the best course of action to limit the financial exposure of all parties. As a result, CPRA has suspended operations, and has filed a Notice of Intention to File a Proposal. The association noted that it’s already working on a operation that is more competitive than the Association business model.

“We believe that a different business model can succeed and that polystyrene recycling has a strong future,” said Talkowski. “We will do everything to transition to a recycling option that is more responsive to indirect market forces and therefore more competitive.”

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