Phil Ambroziak

North America’s recycling industry is about to undergo some big changes and Meadow Lake is no exception.

According to Layne Shkopich of Shkopich Enviro Ltd. – the company contracted to manage recycling and waste collection for the city and other nearby communities – changes in China’s recycling industry have made it necessary for recyclers in North America to amend products acceptable for recycling.

“China was the major buyer of recycled plastic, but that changed last year when China banned 24 materials from the recycling list,” Shkopich explained. “Searches for alternate sources to sell plastics to were unsuccessful and the stockpile of plastics many companies were holding is now having to go into the landfills. The bags have become an un-recyclable product.”

Also affected is mixed paper that has plastic film included.

“The processing systems do not allow for this to be extracted easily,” Shkopich added. “The concern is, if these products end up in the bales of mixed paper to China, the same fate will be met. This is why all plastic film must be removed from paper. Again, the processors attempted to develop systems to remove the plastic product from paper, but were unable to do so at this time.”

Still acceptable are household plastic with the numbered triangle symbol 1-7.

“The only exception to plastic bags is shredded paper,” Shkopich continued. “It is still to be bagged in clear plastic bags – the processor will remove the plastic as loose shredded paper would cause issues for the processing equipment if not bagged. As a recycler myself, I am disappointed these plastics are again having to go into the landfill, but with no market we have no choice.”

In Meadow Lake, curbside recycling was introduced five years ago. And, while updated statistics are unavailable, Shkopich did say there has been a fairly significant decrease in landfill fees since that time. He’s also optimistic the now banned products will be recyclable again in the future.

“I’m confident they will some day be put back into the stream,” he said. “I also don’t believe this change will have a huge impact on our local landfill unless things were to remain this way for many, many years.”

Meanwhile, Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal agreed the community’s recycling program has continued to grow in terms of use and popularity since it was initiated in 2013.

“Overall, we’ve been very satisfied with the program,” he said. “I’m not entirely familiar with the background behind these new changes, but, if anything, this will serve as another opportunity to communicate with and to educate the public about recycling. Any time we have a chance to talk about recycling, there’s a chance more people will be encouraged to recycle.”

Anyone seeking more information or assistance with regard to the new changes is encouraged to contact Shkopich Enviro at 1-855-236-5200 or visit www.shkopich.ca.

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