The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and World Economic Forum (WEF) has released a report calling for industry and governments to apply circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows in order to transform the plastics economy and drastically reduce negative impacts such as contamination of oceans. Multi-Material BC (MMBC) is cited in the report as an example of a successful program in which industry and governments are working together to recover and recycle plastics in order to keep materials out of the environment.
The WEF report, “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics,” says there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today. If global plastics production and recovery does not change, the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean (by weight).
MMBC is a non-profit organization that is fully financed by industry to manage residential packaging and printed paper recycling programs in British Columbia. In May 2014, responsibility for end-of-life management of residential packaging and printed paper shifted from governments and their taxpayers to the businesses that produce these materials and MMBC was formed to help businesses meet their obligations under BC’s Recycling Regulation. The program achieved an 80 per cent recovery rate of its members’ materials since launching in 2014 – exceeding the regulated target of 75 per cent. Over 1.24 million households receive curbside and multi-family collection services from MMBC.
In the World Economic Forum report, MMBC is specifically recognized for having “harmonized and redesigned collection and post-collection [of packaging and printed paper] in British Columbia. For collection, it has developed agreements with local governments, First Nations and private collectors to operate curbside, multifamily and depot collection programmes in different communities.” The report goes on to say that the MMBC program “allows the province to achieve productivity previously unavailable to residential recycling programmes.”
The New Plastics Economy report provides for the first time a vision of a global economy in which plastics never become waste, and outlines concrete steps towards achieving the systemic shift needed. The report, financially supported by the MAVA Foundation, was produced as part of Project MainStream, a global, multi-industry initiative that aims to accelerate business-driven innovations to help scale the circular economy.
Excerpt from “The New Plastics Economy”:
“Multi-Material BC (MMBC) has harmonized and redesigned collection and post-collection activities in British Columbia. For collection, it has developed agreements with local governments, First Nations and private collectors to operate curbside, multifamily and depot collection programmes in different communities. While collectors make operational decisions about their programmes, the set of materials accepted by MMBC is harmonized.
‘This helps alleviate confusion, allows MMBC to conduct larger promotion and education campaigns across all communities and means that residents don’t have to re-educate themselves when they move to different communities’, Allen Langdon, Managing Director of MMBC, says.
Post-collection an approach has been developed to service the entire province as a single after-use shed. This approach allows the province to achieve productivity previously unavailable to residential recycling programmes.
For example, by sorting all containers in one central high-performing facility rather than investing in retrofitting 4 or 5 traditional MRFs. In addition, it has enabled MMBC to start leveraging this system as a platform for engaging producers in real-time trials and studies to test and support new innovations in packaging.”