Non-beverage containers are benefiting from years of strong prices and steady demand for used beverage containers in Canada. Representing roughly half the total PET and HDPE bottles generated, these containers — the kind used for food and household cleaners, laundry detergents, mouthwash, shampoo, soap and automotive products — provide opportunities for municipalities to increase revenues at little added cost. They are easily collected and marketed along with their beverage counterparts, in existing programs.
In 2000, the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC — a Council of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association) recognized this benefit, plus demand exceeding supply. They began a push for “all plastic bottle” collection to increase capture rates for PET and HDPE. Plastics #3 to #7 were excluded because at less than 10 percent of total plastic bottle generation, there is not enough supply.
Demonstrating the effectiveness of “all plastic bottle” campaigns to pull through more material are programs like those in British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. These report recoveries of non-beverage containers in the range of 24 to 29 percent. Where provincial stewardship programs exist for motor oil bottles, recoveries range from 18 to 63 percent. The opportunity for all provinces to achieve higher recoveries of PET and HDPE through capture of non-beverage containers is apparent.
Balanced against the ease of non-beverage container pull-through is a supply crisis in the U.S. beverage container market. Declining capture rates combined with competition from Asian markets is creating serious problems for domestic recyclers that industry and regulatory agencies are working hard to address. (See “All Bottled Up” article in the April/May 2004 edition.)
Contact Damian Bassett at 416-594-3457, ext 3457 or visit www.csr.org (CSR Sheet located under “Publications”)