Solid Waste & Recycling


Letters (January 01, 1999)

The "plastic can"Guy Crittenden (see the October/ November issue's editorial) and Professor Marvin Tung are correct--anyone involved with design or recycling of packaging would be unwise to ignore the...

The “plastic can”

Guy Crittenden (see the October/ November issue’s editorial) and Professor Marvin Tung are correct–anyone involved with design or recycling of packaging would be unwise to ignore the ongoing technical advances of polyesters (or polyolefins) in the move toward sustainable conservation of discarded packaging. Hopefully any FDA apprehensions on the potential interference of PEN on PET’s proven recyclability have now been fully alleviated by inputs from industry.

Polyester beverage container recycling in the Maritimes and Western Canada is already around an 80 per cent rate–among the highest in North America. Discarded HDPE plastic milk jugs in B.C. have a 50 per cent recycle rate.

An important aspect regarding the recyclability of discarded plastic containers is “design for recyclability.” One concern is the use of composite plastic/paper labels. The major soft drink companies have successfully addressed this issue by utilizing polyolefin labels rather than PVC or paper/plastic composites on their well accepted PET containers.

How much more shelf lie may be deemed necessary or afforded for today’s PET polyester soft drink container is principally a matter of cost performance. Shelf prices for soft drinks in larger size containers don’t appear to demonstrate too much upward price movement. Should “lost fizz” (as the editor refers to) in single serve soft drink containers become an issue, continuous technical plastic developments will no doubt rise to the occasion.

Most companies producing glass packaging have fully recognized the significance of polyester as “environmental glass” and already have rapidly growing plastic container divisions, either polyesters or polyolefins. Full consumer and recyclability assessments of “polyester” in beer packaging is well underway on several continents. Plastics sustainability managed are certainly more part of the solution than the problem.

Jim Cairns

Environmental Plastics

Advisory Service

Vancouver, BC


I would like to complement you on the very interesting cover article “Incineration in Canada” (October/ November issue). However, while the data presented in the article by Richard Gilbert may be factually correct, the reality is that the general public is very much anti-incineration. The widespread misinformation campaign has presented old data while not recognizing the vast improvements in current technological capabilities.

As a follow up to your article, you may wish to challenge your readers with identifying the building in the photo I’ve attached. This is the incinerator located in Vienna, Austria. The building is located about 10 km from downtown Vienna, close to the River Danube, just below the Vienna woods.

While there was a great deal of controversy centered around the siting of this facility, I was informed by a local resident that most of the debate centered around the artistic merits of the building rather than its function.

Maybe there is a lesson here for Canadians?

Michael Day

National Research Council Canada

Institute for Chemical Process

and Environmental Technology

Ottawa, ON

Incineration correction

Regarding the article “Incineration in Canada,” (October/November issue) I would like to clarify readers’ understanding of the manner in which Toronto and potentially other GTA regional municipal partners intend to engage the marketplace for long term solid waste diversion and disposal capacity.

With respect to waste disposal capacity, the intention is to require that facilities be in place in 2002 or 2007. Proponents of facilities that will not be in place before 2007 (e.g., new EFWs) must provide capacity for the period 2002 to 2007 (e.g., by contracting for capacity from an existing waste disposal facility).

The process intended to canvass the marketplace, evaluate proposals, and decide upon preferred long term waste management capacity solutions is described in the report Solid Waste Management – Marketplace Engagement Process Stage – One Planning Document. The report has been released for stakeholder consultation and is available by contacting Tracey Ehl at 416-392-6698.

Michael Pratt


Proctor & Redfern Limited

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