Over­flow forces re­cy­clables to be dumped

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

A “crit­i­cal” over­flow prob­lem at its Alexan­dria re­cy­cling plant has forced North Glen­garry to dump re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als -plas­tic and pa­per prod­ucts that can no longer be sold to China af­ter it erected its “Green Fence.”

While the town­ship at­tempts to solve the is­sue, peo­ple are be­ing asked to help out by con­sum­ing less. “We en­cour­age our cus­tomers to con­tinue to re­cy­cle and to take pride in the amount of ma­te­rial that is be­ing di­verted from land­fills. But we also urge them to find ways to re­duce the amount of over­all waste that they are gen­er­at­ing, whether it goes into the blue bin or the trash,” says the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

For the last few weeks, ma­te­ri­als that would oth­er­wise be pro­cessed at the Re­cy­clage Alexan­dria Re­cy­cling Équipe (RARE) de­pot in the in­dus­trial park have been trucked to the Glen Robert­son land­fill.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across Canada have had to stock­pile plas­tics or pa­per that can no longer be sold to the Chi­nese mar­ket.

“This has cre­ated a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem with over­flow of ma­te­rial that can­not cur­rently be pro­cessed. Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters are reg­u­la­tory stan­dards lim­it­ing the amount of ma­te­ri­als that can be stored on site,” the town­ship ex­plains in a press re­lease.

RARE con­tin­ues to process ma­te­rial that can be sold to re­cy­cling man­u­fac­tur­ers. There are do­mes­tic and Amer­i­can buy­ers for used steel cans, alu­minum, card­board and cer­tain plas­tics. How­ever, much of the ma­te­rial re­ceived at RARE is not mar­ketable. For ex­am­ple at this time there are no vi­able mar­kets for plas­tics num­bered 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

RARE is still sell­ing used news­pa­per over­seas, but due to ef­forts to meet the strin­gent sort­ing re­quire­ments that came into ef­fect this year, its “ef­fi­ciency has de­creased by half.”

The cen­tre’s en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pli­ance ap­proval al­lows for 650 tonnes of ma­te­rial to be kept on site. Non-com­pli­ance would ex­pose the town­ship to charges, fines and other penal­ties.

“Based on all of this, the town­ship has had to land­fill un­mar­ketable re­cy­clable ma­te­rial. This does not mean that con­sumers should re­duce their re­cy­cling ef­forts. Rather, we are ask­ing that you help us by be­ing more vig­i­lant in re­duc­ing the amount of con­tam­i­nants go­ing into our blue bins. We will con­tinue to strive to im­prove the ef­fi­cien­cies at RARE and to seek new mar­kets for our var­i­ous re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als,” the mu­nic­i­pal­ity says.

Mean­while, the town­ship has no­ti­fied the Corn­wall Dis­trict Of­fice of the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment that the sit­u­a­tion is crit­i­cal and

sought help from the prov­ince. A min­istry in­spec­tor has vis­ited the fa­cil­ity. What you can do to help

One of the most com­mon re­cy­cling mis­takes is leav­ing the cap on your wa­ter bot­tle or other stor­age con­tainer. The bot­tle it­self can be re­cy­cled, but the caps are made of a dif­fer­ent ma­te­rial that has to be re­cy­cled sep­a­rately.

Elec­tron­ics, bat­ter­ies and light bulbs should not be placed in your re­cy­cling bin. You can bring your un­wanted elec­tron­ics and other ewaste, in­clud­ing tele­vi­sions, com­put­ers, prin­ters, speak­ers and other elec­tronic de­vices di­rectly to the e-waste fa­cil­ity at RARE, at 265 In­dus­trial Ave. It is open Mon­day to Fri­day, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In its state­ment, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity notes, “As con­sumers, we all feel bet­ter about trash when we know that some of it is be­ing re­cy­cled. There is com­fort in know­ing that we have made an ef­fort to re­duce our en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print and to find a new pur­pose for cast-off items. Un­for­tu­nately, many of the things that land in our blue bins don't be­long there. Items such as cloth­ing, fur­ni­ture and shoes can be reused, but they are not re­cy­clable. These items are bet­ter do­nated to lo­cal char­i­ties.”

Food-stained ma­te­ri­als like pizza boxes, used pa­per plates, nap­kins, pa­per tow­els, and jars with food residue still in them, should not be put in a re­cy­cling bin. While the ma­te­ri­als them­selves are re­cy­clable, once they are con­tam­i­nated with food, they be­come a waste prod­uct. The food still left in these con­tain­ers com­pli­cates the re­cy­cling process by dam­ag­ing the re­cy­cling ma­chines and con­tam­i­nat­ing the other ma­te­ri­als.

RARE re­ceives, sorts and pro­cesses re­cy­clables from North Glen­garry res­i­dents and nu­mer­ous neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The town­ship “main­tains some of the high­est di­ver­sion rates in the prov­ince. This is a tes­ta­ment to the ef­forts made by our users to re­duce their waste and to re­cy­cle as many prod­ucts as pos­si­ble.”

The RARE plant has been in op­er­a­tion since the early 1990s. Over the years, pu­rity stan­dards for re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als have changed. This has re­sulted in adap­ta­tions of the R.A.R.E. sort­ing lines to meet these stricter stan­dards.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies that pur­chase re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als are de­mand­ing higher stan­dards and cleaner ma­te­ri­als with fewer con­tam­i­nants. If these stan­dards are not met, some of these re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als get des­ig­nated as waste prod­ucts.

“Green Fence”

Prior to 2018, China pur­chased ap­prox­i­mately two-thirds of all of North Amer­ica's re­cy­clables.

RARE sold vir­tu­ally all of its post-con­sumer news­pa­per to China.

There were no do­mes­tic mar­kets for this ma­te­rial clas­si­fied as ONP#6 and ONP#8. The clo­sure of China's ports last sum­mer, un­der what it calls the “Green Fence” pro­gram, halted im­port of all re­cy­cling ma­te­ri­als that did not meet its newer, more strin­gent qual­ity stan­dards.

This cre­ated a world-wide prob- lem af­fect­ing all en­ti­ties that re­cy­cle, es­pe­cially those in North Amer­ica, Europe and Aus­tralia. In ad­di­tion to the new stan­dards, China has re­duced its ac­cep­tance of most re­cy­cled ma­te­rial to 1/10th of one per cent of the ton­nage it ac­cepted in the past.

To make mat­ters more dif­fi­cult, China no longer ac­cepts any plas­tic such as bot­tles, bags, and var­i­ous plas­tic con­tain­ers. The world's largest con­sumer of re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als has re­duced its ac­cep­tance of post-con­sumer plas­tics to zero. The lack of no­tice by China of the port clo­sures has cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion where re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties world­wide are fran­ti­cally try­ing to find al­ter­na­tive buy­ers.

NO PLACE TO GO: Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have no place to sell their re­cy­clable plas­tics and pa­per prod­ucts.

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