Paper could have a renaissance

Every two weeks we put two blue boxes on the boulevard. At our home, the blue boxes contain a mixture of empty cereal boxes, clear plastic containers that once held strawberries or some other fruit, salad dressing bottles and empty gallon jugs that once held milk.
Asselin Transportation collects all of the material in the blue boxes for the town and puts it all together for shipment to a Winnipeg sorting and recycling facility.
As residents, we are very good at recycling. We are good at taking our empty glass bottles and jars to the glass recycling depot at the Public Works garage and returning our beer and wine bottles for cash at the Beer Store.
We are good at putting our metal cans and cardboard into those boxes.
Once in Winnipeg, all that blue box waste is sorted to various piles of metal, paper, cardboard, and plastics. Metal and paper continue to have value to be recycled.
But for depots that handle the plastics, they are finding themselves in a crisis.
It is becoming a growing crisis as more and more nations are refusing to accept plastics from Canada’s waste diversion centres.
In fact, Canada is now in a spat with the Philippine government as a result of a Canadian company shipping recycled plastic to the Philippines in 2013-2014.
Last Thursday, Canada issued a tender asking for bids from companies to return those materials to Canada.
China alone reduced its acceptance of recycled plastics from Canada by almost 90,000 tons and has banned eight types of plastics from entering the country.
The costs of recycling plastic have grown by almost 40 percent as companies are now using labour to sort materials in the recycling stream more effectively leaving behind much of the mechanical methods that have been used to date
The crisis is growing. Almost 90 percent of all plastics used in Canada today end up in landfills.
Much of our cardboard is soiled from grease, vegetable oils and other products and that can’t be recycled. That material often ends up in incinerators.
Even the plastic-coated paper cups from Tim’s or McDonald’s can’t be recycled.
It is a problem we will face as more plastics will be diverted to the Fort Frances landfill.
Some Alberta communities have already banned plastics from the blue box program.
Some recyclers of plastic used to bid for the material from recycling centres.
Today, many of those collection centers are now paying the recyclers to take the products off their hands.
The solution may be as simple of going back to the future where only paper bags are available in stores and produce is held in molded paper-mâché baskets.
Rainy River Packaging recognized that there was a future for paper straws, paper wrappers, and many other paper packaging products.
Paper still might have a renaissance!

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