Understanding Plastics & Recycling
Canadians discard three million tonnes of plastic waste each year, and only nine percent of it is recycled. The majority of plastics discarded as waste in 2016 were packaging materials; this includes items commonly used in the food and beverage sector.
With single-use plastics bans coming in 2022, it’s important to understand why certain plastics are being banned, and what alternatives we should look for. Many people assume that because an item is plastic, made with a specific material, or contains a resin code, it’s recyclable. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Plastics play an important part in our world and will continue to in various applications. Where you cannot find truly compostable product, ensure that the plastic you are using is both recycled and recyclable so you are diverting plastic from landfills and not creating virgin plastic. A great example of this is RPET plastic. RPET plastics (recycled PET) are made from recycled plastic and are also recyclable. This type of plastic would have otherwise gone to landfill and can be recycled over and over again.
Polypropylene (PP) is not sorted at the Material Recovery Facility level in Canada. It goes into mixed plastic bales or “tubs and lids” with many other types of plastic.
PP is complex to recycle since recycling systems prefer to target uniform inputs, such as clear bottles of one specific polymer - PP is made in many grades, in many colours, and in many formats.
PP often contains talc or other additives (multilayer products) to improve rigidity and reduce cost, but this addition makes the product non-recyclable.
Shredded PP is sorted from other types of plastic at recycling facilities via a “sink-float” tank. It should float, but the addition of talc increases its density and causes it to sink. It is then not recovered, and also becomes a contaminant for other types of plastic (ex: PET).
Multilayer materials and additives complicate the recycling process regardless of polymer type.
Mechanical, advanced or chemical recycling of food-grade recycled PP has not been proven at scale.
Both expanded and extruded PP to be banned in future single-use plastic bans.
“COMPOSTABLE” PLASTIC (e.g. PLA)
Cannot be visually separated from other plastics at recycling and composting facilities.
Contaminates both the final compost and recycling stream, as it downgrades the quality.
Looks and feels like plastic – no way to distinguish it from real plastic so ends up in landfills.
Does not break down easily – needs special composting conditions in a facility. Not home compostable.
Environment Canada has confirmed that compostable plastics are not a viable replacement for banned plastics.
Takes approximately 500 years to break down in a landfill or nature.
Polystyrene foam releases hazardous gases into the air if burned.
It actually costs recycling facilities more money to recycle than to use virgin styrofoam
It's 90% made of air, it cost more to ship than to reuse or purchase virgin plasic.
Black plastic is recyclable, but waste sorting systems can’t recognize black pigments against the black conveyor belt.
You cannot take colour out of plastic so it downgrades the value.
Aside from being mindful about plastics, and where each item ends up in its recycling or landfill journey, making switches to compostable products when possible can help eliminate waste.
Our products are 100% compostable. Outside of any future single-use plastic bans and FREE from harmful fluorinated chemicals (PFAs)