The presentations from the recent Material Quality Workshop organized by the Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators (AMRC) are now available for download from the AMRC website www.amrc.ca/proceedings.html
Held at the Holiday Inn Select, Oakville on October 30, the workshop attracted more than 90 delegates, and featured perspectives from all sides of the recycling industry.
The day began with presentations from those companies who buy Ontario blue box materials: David Burch of Abitibi, Keith Bechard of Entropex, Shawn Somerday of Klockner Pentaplast, Jennifer Dube of Plastrec, Bill Tynion of Anheuser Busch and Scott Van Rooy of Strategic Materials. They spoke about how the quality and the make-up of recyclables has changed over recent years, reflecting changes in collection and the introduction of new products into the Ontario marketplace.
Jake Westerhof of Canada Fibers and George South of Miller Waste Systems Operators then talked about the changes they are seeing and how these changes are affecting operations of material recovery facilities (MRFs).
Among the concerns raised were the increasing amount of polypropylene in what has traditionally been a high-value HDPE stream and the amount of non-bottle PET that cannot be recycled in North America. Another concern — one which will affect revenues — is the changing make-up of the fibre stream. As the relatively high-value old newspaper portion of the stream is reduced in favor of other lower-value fibres, prices paid for mixed fibre loads will decrease (see illustration).
Two guest speakers from the United States provided a broader perspective on the issue of material quality. Martha Leflar of the Charlottesville, VA-based GreenBlue Institute, has been working with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to develop design guidelines for sustainable packaging. (More atwww.sustainablepackaging.org)
David Cornell from Kingsport, Tennessee, has been involved in plastics recycling for more than 30 years and is a key player with the Association of Post-Consumer Plastics Recyclers (APR). Cornell spoke about the growing concern about contamination of HDPE and PET streams by others plastics. The APR’s Design for Recycling guidelines call for polypropylene (PP) and LDPE is be less than 5 per cent of a bottle’s composition. Any material that can smoke or fume during extrusions should be avoided, as should barrier layers that degrade the plastic. Polylactic acid (PLA), PETG and PS containers that look like PET but have a lower melt-point, should be less than 0.1 per cent of any load.
Completing the picture were speakers from the retail sector. Julie Yan talked about changes the Hudson’s Bay Company is making to “green” the products it sells and Anne McConnell of Procter & Gamble who spoke about the re-launch of concentrates in the detergent market and the communication challenges the industry faces in charging more for a smaller package, even though it will last longer and makes more environmental sense.