Film packaging recycling poised for growth

Film packaging recycling poised for growth

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

A new report on flexible film packaging recycling in Ontario has been released, which shows that some types of flexible films are growing at 5 percent annually.

Jointly-released by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, the Continuous Improvement Fund and Stewardship Ontario, and prepared by Reclay StewardEdge, Resource Recycling Systems and Moore Recycling Associates, the report analyzes the current flexible film packaging market in the province, as well as future challenges and opportunities. Plastic films currently account for 35 percent of the packaging stream in Ontario but only have a recycling rate of approximately 6 percent, according to the report. Given their expected growth, the report recommends several steps to ensure they are managed responsibly.

For example, while the report concluded there was excess capacity in North America to process clean PE film, it emphasized that separate collection of this material was necessary to generate a clean stream of feedstock for these processors. Designated recycling centers are highly cost-effective in accomplishing this goal, but the report also acknowledged higher volumes generated from curbside collection. An estimated investment of between $4-8 million in wash-line capacity is needed to both compensate for the tightening of export markets and stimulate growth in North American processing.

Additionally, the report concluded that it is currently not economically viable to separate and process mixed films, although they can be used in fuel-conversion or energy recovery operations.

The full report, which contains detailed collection and processing cost numbers, is freely available here.

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