Plastic recycling has been in the news quite a bit lately. Market conditions have changed, especially for low quality, mixed plastics as China and other countries started requiring imported plastic to be cleaner and better sorted. In addition, the Federal government, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) has developed a Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste to guide management of plastics nationally, based on a circular economy approach.
Plastic collected for UOMA programs is different than the bails of mixed plastic material making the headlines. Oil containers collected (as well as antifreeze and diesel exhaust fluid containers in some jurisdictions) need to be washed thoroughly and remade into sellable feedstock before processors are eligible to receive incentives from the UOMA programs. These containers are also predominantly made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE – #2), and since program materials are not mixed with other recyclables at any point in the processes, the resulting clean feedstock retains value and can be sold directly to manufacturers. Of course, the quality of our recycled plastic feedstock depends on our members. Please continue to consider the type of plastics and the ease of recycling these plastics when determining appropriate product packaging.
Your recycling programs already fit nicely into the circular economy and should complement Canada’s Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. The UOMAs were developed by our members based on the Extended Producer Responsibility model, which is an important mechanism to ‘close the loop’ on waste.
So far, UOMA plastic recycling programs have not been significantly affected by market changes. The UOMAs are closely monitoring market conditions and have begun the process to better understand the full plastic supply change to inform future decisions. In addition, the UOMAs are investigating emerging plastic trends, such as an increase in non-deposit bulk plastic drums and changes in packaging to ensure that your requirements continue to be met.