Global Demand Changes Recycling As We Know It

Posted On Monday July 22, 2019

New regulations in China force North American municipalities to search for domestic solutions

Items waiting to be processed at plant

Since the 80’s kids have learned about the ‘Three R’s” – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We collect all our empty single use plastics for our blue bags and place them on the curb on our collection days. But, have you ever wondered where the recyclables go? Or, who even wants them? The answer to both questions is…China.

For over 25 years, China is the largest purchaser of plastic products in the world. In fact, China has imported 45 per cent of the world’s plastic since 1992, and 90 per cent of plastic waste sent to China was in the form of single-use.

What changed?

In 2013, the Government of China launched Operation Green Fence to enforce quality standards around imported materials. This lead to the National Sword Campaign which brought more restrictions and even bans on specific metals and plastics. China’s new regulations for recycling imported waste have forced municipal recycling programs across North America to search for new ways to deal with plastic waste domestically.

What now?

Canadian plastic recycling companies have come together to lead global change on how plastics are valued, used, recovered, re-used and recycled. The changes to regulation in China could result in increased domestic manufacturing for recyclables here in Canada.

What does this means for you?

Municipalities are taking a difference approach but most have developed strong educational programs that teach residents how to divide waste into: Recycle, Organic and Garbage. The goal is the same: Build strong relationship with processing facilities by offering contamination free products.

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