North America should target ‘clean’ PE film
Canada/USA: To promote increased recycling of post-consumer flexible film, it is best to focus on the collection of ‘clean’ polyethylene film, a new report by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) has argued.
Based on the study, which covers the collection, processing, sorting and end uses of plastic film across North America, the CPIA says it does not expect any technologies to become commercially available in the near future to enable the cost-effective sorting of polyethylene film from other types of film.
Effective sorting of non-polyethylene/multi-laminate into different resin streams in materials recovery facilities or at reprocessors is thought to be similarly unlikely in the coming years.In 2011, less than 3000 tonnes of kerbside film was purchased for recycling in Canada and the USA combined – ‘even though there was more than 5000 tonnes of capacity’, the reports points out. It also notes that there is still ‘significant room for growth’ in the collection of commercial and relatively clean post-consumer polyethylene material.
Moving forward together
According to the report, Ontario’s kerbside film recycling capacity will reach 7500 tonnes per annum by the end of the summer, while there are clear signs of a ‘shrinking’ export market for North America. Given the ‘delicate’ supply/demand balance in North America, growth in supply and capacity will have to move forward together, asserts the CPIA.
One approach would be to boost the sorting and washing infrastructure as demand is ‘very dependent on the quality of the stream that is produced’. The association concludes: ‘An additional investment in film wash lines would be required, ranging from US$ 4 to US$ 8 million, depending on the additional quantity of film to be collected.’