February 2018 Ward 1 Report - Page 16

There has been a lot of talk about China’s ban on foreign recyclables. But what does this mean exactly for Calgary and the Blue Cart recycling program?

Materials like plastic and paper are recycled by manufacturers around the globe. Just like oil and precious metals, recyclables are commodities and their markets go up and down depending on supply and demand. Globally, China represents the largest recycling market.

For years, some companies that did not sort their recyclables properly have been sending low-quality and contaminated recyclable materials to Chinese mills and manufacturers. This behavior prompted the Chinese government to implement the National Sword program, which is aimed at improving the quality of recyclables being imported by Chinese manufacturers.

While the initiative officially took effect on January 1, 2018, third-party brokers that handle the shipping and import of recyclable materials knew it was coming and began to stop shipping materials to China in the fall of 2017. With a lot of uncertainty about how China will enforce the program, third-party brokers are reluctant to ship materials, even if they are sorted properly, for fear that the shipments will be rejected. They are now looking for other recycling markets where the rules and quality standards are clearer for them to understand.

How does this affect Calgary’s Blue Cart recycling program?

The City works with Cascades Recovery, a private third-party company that sorts and markets the recyclables. Some of The City’s plastics are recycled in Western Canada, whereas other materials are recycled overseas, including in China.

The City is not considering putting the stockpiled material in our landfills. Even though the market is in a downturn, these materials are highly recyclable. Just like commodities in other industries, they frequently stockpile during downturns in order to seek a better price when markets recover. Over the life of the Blue Cart program, a portion of recycling revenues have been set aside to allow The City to address volatile market conditions and situations such as this one.

The City is working with Cascades Recovery to locate new potential buyers. In the meantime, they are storing the affected recyclables.

The City cannot speculate on how long the market will fluctuate but they will continue to monitor this evolving situation and adjust in the future if needed. Currently, they have been able to find enough storage space. What is important to remember is that it is a market fluctuation and we want citizens of Calgary to stay in the habit of recycling and keeping these materials out of the landfill.

Want to help with recycling? Keep on recycling items in your Blue Cart and visit calgary.ca/whatgoeswhere.

For the full Calgary City News article, click here

Recycling in Calgary