CBC Plastic Recycling Story Response

Oct 02, 2019

In regard to the CBC Marketplace story on September 28, 2019, about the fate of some plastic in the Lower Mainland that was meant to be recycled, the Capital Regional District (CRD) would like to assure residents that all the recyclable materials being collected through its residential curbside recycling program and Hartland recycling depot are in fact being recycled and not put in the landfill. 

These residential recycling programs are provided by the CRD on behalf of Recycle BC, the stewardship agency that is responsible for and owns all residential packaging and printed products collected by the CRD. Recyclables collected by the CRD are delivered to Recycle BC’s processing and marketing contractor, Green By Nature, which is a consortium of three companies that includes Merlin Plastics, the one company in the CBC article that was found to be recycling the plastics it was provided. 

The closure of China as a market for recyclable materials as of January 2018 has negatively impacted many recycling programs worldwide. This has been particularly true for many commercial and multi-family recycling programs, where the communal and anonymous way in which recyclables are collected results in more contamination, which lowers the ability to recycle these materials. The quantity of contaminated and unmarketable materials from many of these programs has therefore increased significantly. These conditions are being observed within the capital region for many commercial and multi-family recycling programs and some of their contamination and unmarketable residuals are being disposed of at Hartland Landfill. The challenge of finding new markets may partially explain what happened with the recyclables provided to the other two firms identified in the CBC story.   

Despite these challenges, Recycle BC continues to maintain markets for the residential recyclables it manages and their response to the CBC story can be viewed on the Recycle BC website

For more information about what happens to recycling: