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Need to Know

SWANA Releases Canadian Recycling Myths Versus Facts Sheet

MES’ Filiaggi Expands Recycling Via Innovation, Partnerships and Education
Association urges the media to provide accurate information about the state of recycling in Canada.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) developed a flyer that provides current and accurate data on the state of recycling in Canada.

The challenges facing Canadian recycling increased when China imposed restrictions on the import of recovered plastics and paper in 2018. These restrictions have highlighted areas for improvement but have not changed the importance of recycling in Canada.

However, according to SWANA, “misinformed stories about the futility of recycling have been published, leading to unnecessary confusion.” SWANA’s “Recycling: Myths vs. Facts” flyer addresses some of the common misconceptions, including that recycling is “failing” or “collapsing” and that it isn’t worth the effort anymore.

“There are abundant reasons to be optimistic about the future of recycling in Canada,” said David Biderman, SWANA CEO and executive director, in a statement. “Additional domestic processing capacity is coming online over the next few years in North America that will help correct the current imbalance between supply and demand for recovered paper and plastic. Also, many communities are focused on reducing contamination, and recycling facilities are upgrading their equipment and slowing down their lines to produce higher quality material.”

The flyer addresses one of the most persistent myths surrounding recycling, which is that no one knows how to address the challenges that the industry is facing. SWANA wants to make it clear that although it’s not simple, solutions are being implemented. Public education and enforcement of local rules motivate people to recycle right. Recycling facilities are embracing new technologies such as robotics to keep up with changing market requirements and material streams. New facilities are opening and existing ones are expanding, providing more demand for recyclables. Organizations are considering redesign, reuse and repair to address hard-to recycle items.

“Although the recycling industry is currently having some difficulties marketing some of their materials, the industry isn’t broken,” said Art Mercer, SWANA’s incoming international secretary, in a statement. “Materials are recycled into new products and this has many benefits, such as energy and resource conservation. Just because it is temporarily difficult to market some of the items, this is no reason to stop recycling and throw these items away, often filling up landfills. Also, we need to remember that we all have a responsibility to reduce the items we buy and throw away. Recycling is not the only solution.”

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