In the late 1980s and early 1990s, polycoat represented a relatively small percentage of the post-consumer paper stream and was essentially a specialty material handled by a select group of paper mills. At that time, many mills tried but ultimately failed to offer long-term, stable end markets.
Today, however, there is ample market capacity in Canada for polycoat containers. In central North America two paper mills have recently emerged that offer Ontario municipalities stable end markets. Atlantic Packaging in Toronto has been purchasing polycoat since 2001. Paper Tigers, a broker out of Illinois, representing Great Lakes Tissue in upstate Michigan, has been sourcing used polycoat from Ontario and Quebec municipalities since the late 1990s.
In western Canada, offshore markets exist in Japan and Korea. However, a few years ago brand owners and packaging suppliers pushed for a local market. To that end, Norampac’s mill in Burnaby, British Columbia modified its pulper to process polycoat packaging for use in corrugated medium and linerboard.
Spot market prices for baled, mixed polycoat have remained stable over the past 24 months, ranging between $60 and $70 per tonne. (Source: The Price Sheet, CSR.) According Donna Roberts of Atlantic Packaging, “Polycoat tends to be not as sensitive to traditional ONP or OCC market fluctuations because it is a fairly new grade of recovered paper and demand is not out sizing supply.”
Currently, 80 per cent of Canadian households have access to polycoat carton recycling and interest from municipalities is increasing. Tetra Pak has a policy to provide modest financial support to new municipalities adding aseptic cartons to their blue box programs.
In the future it may be possible to include other polycoated packaging, such as paper ice cream tubs and paper cups, in gable-top and aseptic bales. Atlantic Packaging has experimented with clean paper coffee cups and reports no problems. However, at this point they are reluctant to source cups from residential recycling programs because of potential contamination issues (lids, stir sticks, tea bags, polystyrene cups, etc.). (See Diversion article, page 14.)
Contact Damian Bassett at 416-594-3457, ext 3457 or visit www.csr.org (CSR Sheet located under “Publications”)