In one of its strongest worded news releases, the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) recently criticized plans by the City of Toronto that it accuses of “passing the buck” and “punishing consumers.”
The news release states:
Rather than accepting its responsibility to facilitate more recycling, the City of Toronto seems intent on passing the buck. This fall, it will consider a series of proposals aimed at punishing consumers and businesses for using certain packaging materials.
Rather than keep its promise to include more materials in blue box pick-up, the city now appears to be moving towards a series of negative interventions designed to limit consumer choice. Plastic shopping bags, coffee cups, and polystyrene food containers are some of the products being targeted for possible consumer bans, taxes, and/or deposit payments.
“Over the past few years, industry has invested millions of dollars in building recycling infrastructure and establishing markets for re-manufactured goods,” said Cathy Cirko, Vice President of the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC), an organization dedicated to finding sustainable solutions for minimizing plastic waste in Canada. “We could take every plastic bag and polystyrene product available in Toronto. None of this material has to go to landfill.”
Retailers are implementing in-store reusable options. Consumers, too, are invested in recycling — especially now that Toronto is imposing user fees for garbage collection, and there is an incentive for residents to put more materials in their blue bins.
“The new blue bin system was introduced to recycle these materials. So why is Toronto giving up on the program now?” asked Cirko.
Toronto currently collects 55 per cent less plastic packaging per household than the average recovery rate in Peel Region, York Region, Hamilton and London.
Eighty per cent of plastic packaging is recyclable, which would help the city achieve
its 70-per-cent diversion target by 2010. As well, it is estimated that Toronto would pocket some $5 million a year in additional revenue by recycling these plastics.
“It’s time for the City of Toronto to step up to the plate on recycling,” said Cirko. “The private sector is ready and willing to improve recycling for Toronto’s residents. We have the capacity to do more, but we need the city’s help.”
Ontario can divert 20,000 tonnes of packaging made from polystyrene a year from landfill — products such as meat trays, yogurt cups, and drinking cups — and re-manufacture it into construction materials, picture frames and other valuable goods. Newly expanded polystyrene recycling capacity is available in two markets — giving Ontario the power to recycle 100 per cent of its polystyrene through facilities operated by Grace Canada of Ajax and the Canadian Polystyrene Recycling Alliance (CPRA), which has facilities located in Toronto, Mississauga and Port Hope.
“I can take as much polystyrene as I can get,” said Sam Alavy, CEO and owner of CPRA. “Bring it on, Toronto!”
EFS-Plastics Inc., a Canadian-based company with German investment, has invested in a modern and efficient recycling and re-processing plant in Elmira, Ontario. It can now recycle plastic bags and film.
“We have already invested millions in bringing well-established and respected practices from Europe to the outskirts of Toronto,” said Martin Vogt, President, EFS-Plastics Inc. “We are happy to invest in Ontario, and we hope our plans to help divert waste from landfills will be warmly received.”
EPIC estimates that, with other new investments coming on stream in the province, the potential capacity to recycle polyethylene film and bags could grow by 11,000 to 22,000 tonnes per year.
About the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC)
The Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) is an industry initiative committed to the responsible use and recovery of plastic resources. EPIC is a standing committee of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA).
EPIC is dedicated to sustainable plastics recycling and to minimizing plastic waste sent to landfill. EPIC facilitates the development of sustainable programs to effectively manage plastics waste and acts as a resource to individuals, groups, companies and the educational community.