Canada industry and municipal partnership releases flexible films plastics packaging diversion report
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), the Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) and Stewardship Ontario (SO) released the report on the flexible film plastics packaging.
The joint project, initiated in the fall of 2012, examined the current and potential future options for post use flexible film collection, processing and sorting and end uses.
Highlights of report findings are as follows:
- there is excess recycling capacity in North American for clean polyethylene film (PE) being generated today;
- to promote greater recycling of flexible films, in the short term, efforts should be focused on collecting clean PE stream separately;
- return centers for PE based collection proved to be the most cost effective option to provide a clean source although with lower recovery rates compared to curbside collection;
- curbside collection of PE film, on the other hand, can achieve higher recovery levels but requires further development of additional domestic wash capacity;
- collecting mixed films with PE film, at this time, is not economically viable due to the lack of cost effective sorting technologies and end market uses;
- however, mixed films can be used as an energy source or converted to a fuel for which there is excess demand.
Plastic films currently represent around 35% of the plastics packaging stream in Ontario with some types of flexible films growing at rates of over 5% annually, according to CPIA. Given the volume and growth, there is an increased interest and need to ensure this packaging stream is effectively managed after use. The report took a first time specific assessment of the current barriers, opportunities and associated costs to collect and process flexible film plastics packaging.
The CPIA, CIF and SO, jointly retained a consulting consortium comprised of Reclay StewardEdge, Resource Recycling Systems and Moore Recycling Associates to accomplish the undertaking. Advisory support was provided by Pac Next, which coordinated the provision of technical information from its membership.