British Columbia’s paper and plastic packaging collection rates rebounded in 2021 from pandemic-related challenges, reaching a record recovery rate of just over 94%.
According to Recycle BC’s 2021 reportmore than 214,000 net metric tons were collected through the packaging and paper products program, an increase of more than 5% from 2020. This equates to a recovery rate of 94.1%, compared to 85.8% in 2020.
Recycle BC is a not-for-profit organization that provides residential packaging and paper recycling services to residents of British Columbia. It is funded and operated by companies that supply packaging and paper.
Broken down by material, plastic has an overall recovery rate of 55%, with 67% rigid plastic and 28% soft plastic recovered. The paper had a recovery rate of 101% in 2021 compared to what was supplied to the market.
“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were further realized in 2021 as residents placed a greater volume of materials in recycling bins, bags and depots, resulting in an increase in tons of materials collected and an increase in the recovery rate compared to the previous year. “, notes the report.
In 2020, for all plastics, the rate was 52%, while rigid plastics and flexible plastics were recovered at rates of 64% and 24%, respectively.
The non-profit organization has also launched three collection pilots: five pop-up drop-off collection events, a pilot curbside collection of soft plastics and foam packaging from homes, and eight community collection events of flexible plastics.
“The goal was to test the feasibility of collecting these materials from households at a reasonable cost to increase recovery rates and resident satisfaction, while maintaining low contamination rates,” the report said.
The six-month sidewalk pilot project was launched in mid-November 2021 and ended in mid-May 2022. Approximately 1,600 households in a service area participated, and Recycle BC will publish the results after their analysis , says the report.
Additionally, he is working with the University of Victoria to test the use of flexible plastic packaging in fibre-reinforced concrete.
For the second year in a row, Recycle BC also saw “significant growth” in metric tons collected, with a 17% increase over the past two years, or 30,000 more metric tons. The report suggests the increase is due to people working from home, dining out less and shopping more online. He also noted that the reporting schedule for the year due to the pandemic could also play a role.
“More than a third of this increase occurred in 2021,” the report said. “It should be noted that in the midst of the pandemic, we have responsibly managed such a significant increase in materials.”
Overall, the program recycled 197,745 metric tons of collected materials, disposed of 18,288 metric tons and managed 11,821 metric tons as technical fuel in 2021. This represents an 86.0% recycling rate for materials collected.
Recycle BC also expanded accessibility in 2021, with over 2.03 million households in 183 communities having access to recycling services, or 99.3%. However, program costs were down 19%, “almost entirely due to the upward trajectory of commodity prices in 2021,” the report noted.
More domestic markets
In 2021, Recycle BC shipped more materials than ever before to local end markets in North America, and “primarily in the Pacific Northwest,” the report says, including the majority of plastic and more of the half of the paper.
More than 97% of plastics collected in British Columbia were sold to a local end market in Vancouver, Canada, and most were turned into pellets for new packaging and products, the report notes, with the exception of “d ‘a small quantity of materials where there was no recycling solution, such as flexible plastic packaging’, which was used as fuel.
In 2014, 33% of the total weight collected was handled by national markets and 67% was exported. In 2019, the split was more even, with 48% processed domestically and 52% exported. The domestic percentage increased to 65% in 2020 and reached 72% in 2021.
“Recycle BC continues to seek local North American end markets first and foremost and therefore strives to be a preferred supplier for those end markets,” the report noted. “In 2021, Recycle BC sent the most materials to local North American end markets in program history, reducing reliance on foreign end markets, advancing the local circular economy and reducing carbon emissions. GHGs from shipping. »
A version of this story appeared in Resource Recycling on August 1.