Ontario sees significant decline in paper collection

Ontario sees significant decline in paper collection

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Residents in Ontario last year put far less paper into recycling bins than they did in 2011, according to the province's recently released municipal recycling statistics.

Waste Diversion Ontario Municipal Datacall numbers show the province's residential curbside recycling collection program brought in roughly 545,000 tons of printed paper in 2012, which represents a 2.8 percent drop from 2011. Mixed paper collection numbers saw a steeper decline, at 17.2 percent.

Printed paper accounts for more than 55 percent of the total weight of the collected material, so even a drop of just a few percentage points has large repercussions on the overall volume. The decline in paper collection led to the overall volume of collected recyclables in the province falling 1.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. That decrease came despite significant volume uptick in several other materials, including aluminum and plastics.

Lower tonnages of fiber entering the recycling stream is hardly unique to Ontario. Falling circulation numbers of newspapers and other traditionally printed products due to the rise of digital media has meant significantly less paper in the market. Ontario, however, did see increases in printed paper totals from 2009 to 2010 and then again from 2010 to 2011.

While paper volumes fell last year in Ontario, several other materials saw notable rises. Aluminum collection was up 8.7 percent, plastics increased 7.4 percent and polycoat containers, which includes gable top containers and aseptic cartons, rose 14.1 percent (but still represents less than 1 percent of total recyclables volume).

Glass collection, meanwhile, fell 1.3 percent.

"Packaging is moving toward lighter materials such as aluminum and plastics," a Waste Diversion Ontario spokesperson told Resource Recycling. "That’s why the glass collection numbers are down. One reason for the increase in aluminum collected could be the introduction of new beverages into the market that are being sold in aluminum cans, like energy drinks and coffees."

The Ontario statistics are based on self-reporting that is required of all municipalities that receive funding and coordination through the province's curbside recycling initiative. According to the report, the program serves more than 99 percent of Ontario's population and more than 400 of the 444 municipalities in the province. The number of households participating in curbside recycling collection programs increased by 32,901 in 2012, reaching 5,046,082.

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