Laurentian Valley, ON (September 28th, 2016) – Effective October 1st, for municipalities and businesses serviced by the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre, Styrofoam™ and plastic bags must be placed in regular garbage, not recycling bins. This difficult decision was made at the Ottawa Valley Waste Management Board’s June 29th meeting.
Waste Management Board Chairman, Laurentian Valley Mayor Steve Bennett, explains why these problematic materials were removed from the program. “Styrofoam™ and plastic bags cause significant maintenance and operational issues at the Centre. The cost to sort and ship these products to limited end markets far exceeds revenue received from the material. And in reality these materials actually make up a very small portion of the overall waste stream.”
Annually, the Centre processes over 6,000 tonnes of recyclables. In 2015, that included just over 5 tonnes of Styrofoam™ and 6 tonnes of plastic bags.
“The Board recognizes the importance of conserving the approximately 20 years of landfill capacity left, however, removing Styrofoam™ and plastic bags from recycling will have minimal impact on the current lifespan of the landfill.” Explains Mayor Bennett.
The removal of Styrofoam™ from recycling is a trend happening across Ontario and includes all types; meat trays, cups, plates and packaging materials. Plastic bags are also no longer recyclable in OVWRC’s program which includes bread bags, outside milk bags, grocery bags and blue newspaper bags. It also includes plastic wrap and other plastic film that people always assumed was recyclable, explains Sue McCrae, Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre General Manager.
“Material such as outer wrap on paper towel and water bottle cases, sandwich bags, potting soil bags and plastic wrap has never been recyclable in our program but people always placed them in the recycling bin which caused problems on our conveyor sorting line. These would have to be hand sorted by staff so other recyclables were not missed.”
Since July, when the program changes were first announced, the Centre has developed messaging to try and clearly convey the reason why the difficult decision to no longer recycle Styrofoam™ and plastic bags was made. The Centre has additional information on the recycling program changes, including a video, posted on their website at www.ovwrc.com.
A sample of what plastic bags/film and Styrofoam™ looks like as it travels along the conveyor sorting line at OVWRC. Styrofoam™ breaks into tiny pieces and bags become mixed with other recyclables making it impossible to effectively sort these materials.