Canadian Plastic Recycling

Posted on 2/25/2013 9:40:26 AM By Jeff Timm

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) recently reported in December, 2012 that post-consumer1 plastic recycled in Canada increased by 24% in 2011 from 2010.  The CPIA sponsored the 2011 Post-consumer Plastics Recycling in Canada survey and Moore Recycling Associates Inc. conducted the study.  The plastic packaging collected for recycling comes from a variety of everyday consumer goods such as plastic bottles, non-bottle rigid plastics (such as deli and dairy containers, bakery, vegetable, and fruit containers), plastic film, bags and outer wrap and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS).

recycle, bottles recycling, recycle bottles

Figure 1 – Recycled plastic bottles - Source -

Much of the results track the U. S. recycle activity, i.e. PET bottles account for the largest segment of recovered material (239.4 million lbs.), non-bottle PET recovery is increasing dramatically, high density polyethylene (HDPE) is second in recycled volume (146.7 million lbs.), etc.

In total, more than 268.5 million kgs. / 591.9 million lbs. of post-consumer plastic was recycled in Canada.  The 2011 recycled plastic breakdown represents an increase of 19% for bottles (29.3 million kgs. / 64.6 million lbs.), an amazing increase of 70% for non-bottle rigids (21 million kgs. / 46.3 million lbs.) and a modest increase of 1% for plastic bags and outer wrap (272 thousand kgs. / 600 thousand lbs.).  Eighty-five percent of the materials collected were reclaimed in Canada or the U. S. while 13% was exported primarily to China.

One improvement in the survey methodology for 2011 over prior years was the addition of a recycled EPS segment, 752.0 thousand kgs / 1.66 million lbs.  This recovered EPS was derived predominantly from protective packaging for durable products and some from food packaging e.g. for meat trays, clamshells and coffee cups. The EPS packaging is recycled into flame resistant protection products, crown moldings and decorative frames for mirrors, pictures and wall hangings.  Facilitating this new interest in EPS recovery is the expanded use of foam

eps, eps densified, densified eps, eps being densified 

Figure 2 - EPS being densified

densification equipment which compresses the foam enabling more efficient, cost-effective shipping to meet the growing recycled foam market demand in Canada, U.S. and for export.  

The non-bottle rigid plastic stream saw a substantial increase of 70% in 2011 due in part to more municipalities expanding collection to all plastic containers, beyond just bottles.  These additional items include blister packaging and clear-thermoformed PET clam shells and trays.  Higher demand for non-bottle rigid plastic recycle is still high including, PET trays, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) containers and bulky rigid items.

The CPIA recognizes there is more opportunity to increase streams as Canadian plastic recyclers want more supply.  For example, it is estimated that the film and bag recycled materials only address 38% of the demand.

The study has lots of data and can be retrieved at the web link below.

1Post-consumer, including Post-commercial is material recovered outside of curbside or drop off collection programs and includes items such as totes, pallets, crates, film and commercial packaging.  This does not include post-industrial recycle materials generated in manufacturing processes and converting processes, such as scrap, trimmings and cuttings.

Related Links:

Canadian Plastic Industry Association (CPIA)

Moore Recycling Associates

2011 Postconsumer Plastics Recycling in Canada Study

comments powered by Disqus