The results are derived from a voluntary survey of more than 500 companies that handle recycled plastics in North America. These companies are made up of reclaimers, exporters, brokers, material recovery facilities and other handlers of used plastics.
"We are proud to report that over 80% of the plastic material reported was reclaimed in Canada or the USA. This amounts to more than 240 million kilograms. It is evident the plastics recycling industry in North America is an important element in the circular economy," said Carol Hochu, President and CEO of the CPIA. This year's data, along with that of previous years, consistently indicates that material collected in Canada routinely remains in North America rather than moving to overseas markets.
Plastic packaging collected for recycling includes plastic bottles, non-bottle rigid plastics (such as deli and dairy containers, bakery, vegetable, fruit containers), and plastic film, bags and outer wrap. These valuable resources are reused to make, for example, fleece jackets, new plastic bottles, pipe, pallets, crates and buckets, decking and other lawn and garden products.
The reported quantities of plastic recycled in 2013, compared to 2012, represent an increase of 13 million kilograms for bottles and an increase of 10 million kilograms for plastic film, such as bags and outer wrap. Of particular note, there was a 23% increase in plastic film and bags recycling attributed to both an increase in collection and strengthened participation in the survey.
Canadian plastics recyclers want more supply; they have underutilized capacity creating ample opportunity for consumers and businesses to supply recyclers with more plastics. It is estimated that the film and bag recycling capacity in Canada is at a 44% utilization rate and non-bottle rigid recycling capacity is at a 72% utilization rate.
"Given the extensive recycling infrastructure, the impact of China's Green Fence on Canadian businesses was minimized," said Krista Friesen, VP Sustainability, CPIA. China enacted the Green Fence policy in 2013, which allows it to reject shipments at ports if they are deemed too contaminated. "CPIA's efforts and this new report show that the Canadian plastics recycling industry is strong and growing. Consumers, communities and businesses are encouraged to continue to grow their plastics recycling programs. Used plastics are valuable resources to be re-manufactured into new products," added Friesen.