In an effort to track the lifecycle of Canadian plastic waste, CBC's Marketplace bought bales of film plastic ready for recycling, secretly placed trackers in the bales and then put the plastic back into the recycling stream in British Columbia (B.C.).
Using an alias email, Marketplace reached out and commissioned three major waste collection businesses—Merlin Plastics, Waste Connections of Canada and GFL Environmental Inc.—with ties to municipal programs in B.C. to process the material.
As part of the project, the Basel Action Network also installed tracking devices into nine bales. CBC’s investigative team found that only one company actually recycled the plastic.
According to CBC, two trackers in Merlin Plastics' bales ended up at a recycling processing plant in Delta, B.C., suggesting it was recycled. Both of the GFL trackers went straight to a waste-to-energy facility, while trackers in the Waste Connections bales showed that the bales ended up in a junkyard in Surrey, B.C., as well as a landfill in Richmond, B.C., the report notes.
CBC’s Marketplace has more information:
Do you know where your recycling really goes after it's been picked up?
After several instances of Canadian plastic waste turning up overseas in places like the Philippines and Malaysia, CBC's Marketplace wanted to track the lifecycle of Canadian plastic.
Journalists bought bales of film plastic ready for recycling, hid trackers inside them, and then re-inserted the plastic back into the recycling stream in British Columbia — the province known for having the most efficient recycling program in Canada.