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A Council of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association






Why canít all plastics be recycled?

A viable and sustainable recycling infrastructure takes time and may vary across the country.Distance to market, population density and volumes of plastic are all factors to be considered.That is why opportunities for recycling may vary.



Why have packaging in the first place?

The purpose of packaging is to prevent contamination, provide shelf life and to protect products and food.Packaging also has to contain information on products use in both English and French and exists to reduce theft and be tamper evident.Packaging is an expense and consumer packaging manufacture work to reduce packaging.Sometimes people say the problem is packaging when in reality packaging reduces garbage.Itís been estimated that a thousand chickens need about seven kilograms of packaging to get to market today.They also generate about 800 kilos of waste products Ė innards and feathers Ė that are turned into pillows and cat food.If you bought your chicken live, as in Saigon or Kabul, most of the waste would end up in the dump even if you savoured the feet and gizzard.And it would stink.



What is done with products that canít be recycled?

Because some products are not currently recycled doesnít necessarily mean that they may not be recycled in the future. As new products grow in volume, there is increased opportunity to capture and recycle significant quantities. Markets for the captured materials evolve in a parallel fashion.Thus, over time materials may eventually go from not being recycled to being recycled.Take plastic tubs for instance: Once considered non-recyclable, plastic tubs are now being successfully recycled into an assortment of products that include shipping pallets, flower pots and lumber.


There will always be residual waste after diversion initiatives, some estimate anywhere from 0 per cent to 40 per cent.Residual plastics are far too valuable to bury in a landfill because they have high energy values. Some plastics are often considered ďfrozen natural gasĒ.Plastic residues can be used as a source of energy and this energy can be used to generate heat and electricity.There are many different types of energy recovery technologies available today and plastics are a good candidate for all of them.



Why canít Blister Packs be recycled?

Blister packs are those display packages with a cardboard backing and the item placed on it with a clear plastic covering the whole thing and sealing the contents within. Blister packs have been used to help reduce theft of articles.


Blister packaging is not a significant portion of the waste stream.In fact, preliminary waste audits have found that blister packaging make up approximately 0.24 per cent of the residual waste stream.


It may be possible to peel all the plastic off and recycle the boxboard. And in some programs there may be the opportunity to cut out the portion of the plastic with no cardboard or glue attached, and generally recycle that plastic.The remaining bit of plastic that is forever bonded to a layer of boxboard fibre is not recyclable and is residual waste that can be recovered for its energy.



Why are microwaveable trays made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and why canít they be recycled?

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is a strong, tough plastic that offers excellent gas and moisture barrier properties, making it perfect for bottles for pop, water, mouthwash, salad dressings and many other products. It is resistant to heat, mineral oils, solvents and acids.PET bottles are typically recycled into fibre, sheet and new bottles.


PET is also designed to be heat resistant for use in ovenproof films and as microwave food trays and boil-in-the-bag products.The heat resistant qualities of PET make it the material of choice for microwaveable trays.The PET used for trays cannot be recycled with PET bottles because of its lower molecular weight and viscosity.



If #7 bottles canít be recycled, why do we use them?

Simply put, they contain an oxygen barrier layer and as a result they provide a much longer shelf life for the products they contain.This is why you normally find this type of plastic bottle used to hold larger containers of fresh juice or condiments which usually last longer in the household.



Why is the same product packaged in different types of plastics?

Ultimately, the choice of material used in to contain products comes down to the brand owner.Brand owners will decide which type of container they want to use to package depending on factors such as product characteristics, function, shelf life, consumer information requirements, tamper proof evidence and cost.


The type of packaging chosen usually depends on the product it contains.For example, the packaging of bacon requires a package that will resist fats, prevent the passage of oxygen (which could turn the bacon rancid) and permit the package to be vacuum sealed. The only way to do this is with a film made up of several layers of different plastics. Unfortunately, these multilayer packages are very difficult to recycle since the layers cannot be separated.