In a deal inked at the beginning of April, Ottawa-based company Haycore Canada Inc. will pay Toronto $35.50 for every tonne of plastic it ships to the company’s Prescott plant. The recycling company had expressed interest in buying Ottawa’s yogurt and margarine containers. But the City of Ottawa stopped accepting those plastics last year and has refused to reinstate them despite a public outcry.
Ottawa made the cuts because the plastics were difficult to market at the time, and local politicians said they were too expensive to collect and process, costing about $760,000 more to recycle in 2003 than landfill. Mayor Bob Chiarelli estimated it would cost the city $2 million to bring the program back.
Council was concerned about the program’s ongoing viability, but now that Canada’s largest city is working with Haycore, the Ottawa is under pressure to revisit its decision and reinstate the recycling of certain plastics, including grocery bags, yogurt containers and margarine tubs, as it did for 10 years.
Plastics are categorized by numbers one to seven. While the city recycles plastics that are graded one and two (which includes soft drink bottles and milk jugs), lower grade plastics numbered three to seven are harder to sell. Residents have been confused by the program changes and lower grade plastics are mistakenly put into blue boxes anyway and then have to be picked out and sent to the Trail Road landfill.
Haycore grinds the plastic into pellets which it sells to companies that make items such as flower pots and plastic furniture. The plastics market tends to fluctuate depending on the price of oil, and Ottawa waste managers say that prices will have to remain high before Ottawa will consider it safe to invest in the program again.
Metro Waste Recycling Inc., which runs Ottawa’s blue box program, will make a presentation at the next committee meeting on April 26 to update councilors on Toronto’s program.