The “National Sword Program” has been initiated by China, with the goal of cutting down on foreign waste including plastics, industrial waste, electronics and other household waste materials entering their county. The only viable recycling market for post-consumer plastic film was in China prior to this new program coming into effect. China is the main market for recyclable materials, and as such, these materials are shipped from across Canada, the United States, and other countries. The Sword Program has caused a large slow-down in the processing of recyclable materials, and a huge backlog, not only for us, but for all exporters, globally, of recyclable goods to China. REACT does not have the sorting/storage capabilities to keep bundles of plastic until this backlog clears, if, in fact, it ever does.
Post-consumer plastic film has always been a difficult commodity to find a mill for, and often was marketed at a net loss. In addition, the market for recycling plastic bags and plastic wrap has been reduced due to low oil prices, which makes it cheaper to make new plastic from petroleum. Due to these factors many other recycling programs, such as the City of Regina’s, never accepted plastic film to begin with. Saskatoon is now looking at banning plastic bags, and Victoria, Montreal, and Vancouver have either implemented bans or are seriously considering banning plastic bags. The European Union will require an 80% reduction of plastic bags by 2019. This means virtually every European country is now considering ways to bring about reductions. In the United States, there are 133 different anti-bag regulations, city and county wide. Many other countries and cities have had bans in place for several years already. REACT is in favor of the banning of plastic bags due to the challenges of litter control at our landfills and the preservation of the environment and the safety of wildlife.
Since early January 2018, another recycling commodity has been materially affected by this wholesale ban on plastic film. Mixed paper constitutes about 26.5% of the recyclable waste stream, and approximately 85-90% of the world market for mixed paper is in China. Bales of mixed paper product can get contaminated by post-consumer plastic film, which gets stuck to or wrapped in the paper, and is impossible to completely remove in any sorting system. Containers shipped to China with a contamination rate of 0.5% or higher are being rejected and returned to the country of origin.
In order to ensure successfully recycling of mixed paper and maintain viability of the recycling system, post-consumer plastic film is being eliminated from the material received for processing, effective immediately.
The recycling of plastic bags has become a global issue and has been for some time. Many stores and consumers have taken anti-bag actions and incentives, and this has dropped usage, but the problem remains, and environmentally, will continue to be a problem until these products are completely eliminated or domestic markets for recycling becomes a viable option world-wide.
REACT is discouraged at the thought of this material ending up in our landfills as well, and therefore, encourage everyone to try their best to reduce or eliminate the use of these products until another viable solution is found. All types of plastic bags (even those with the recycling symbol) are not accepted at this time. Please bag all stretchable plastics in your waste bin to contain blown litter.
We thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter!
Proper Waste Management Today for a Better Tomorrow
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