Recycling has frequently been in the news lately.
In 2018, China stopped accepting contaminated plastic. That caused considerable problems in the recycling system.
Recycling brokers were shipping large amounts of low quality or poorly sorted plastic to China as there were very few if any mills in North America that would take it.
Many communities had added plastic bags, wrap and other low quality plastics to the list of recyclables because China was taking it. The changes in China left them scrambling to find other markets.
The CBC program Marketplace went undercover in Malaysia. This country has restricted plastic imports to 62 licensed companies. But the plastic continues to ‘pour in.’ Marketplace found many illegal plastic recycling companies with poor working conditions and terrible environmental consequences.
The other Marketplace story put a tracking device in three bales of plastic bags sold to three different companies for recycling in British Columbia. Only one bale was recycled. One was incinerated for energy leaving behind a very toxic ash and the other went to the landfill.
How does this relate to recycling in Flin Flon?
First of all, most if not all the plastics being recycled in these situations were plastic bags and other low grade plastics. The companies we send our materials to have never taken these plastics because they cannot find companies to recycle them.
These companies have indicated they send all their plastics to mills in North America.
Plastic recycling is facing challenges. The prices for sorted plastics have dropped drastically in the last few months.
More mills in are needed in North America and there needs to be a willingness to pay the cost of doing recycling the right way.