Where does Port Alberni’s recycling go?

Probably the most frequently asked question that staff at the 3rd Ave. and the Alberni Valley Landfill Recycling Depot is, “Where is our recycling actually going?”

The amount of distrust in our local recycling system seems to be growing with an increasing number of newspaper articles and exposés on Canadian recycling going overseas or private contractor recycling ending up in a landfill.

While these articles have merit, Recycle BC and associated contractors do not fall within that category.

Port Alberni’s curbside recycling, 3rd Ave. and the Alberni Valley Landfill Recycling Depot are all participants in the Recycle BC program.

While the fluctuating nature of commodity markets means the end market for something today will not necessarily be the same six months from now, here’s a snapshot of where Port Alberni’s recycling is going as of January of 2020.

This information from the Recycle BC website, and confirmed with Recycle BC, indicates materials collected through their curbside, multi-family and depot programs are currently sold and processed as follows:

  • Plastic containers, plastic bags and overwrap collected in BC remain in BC, with a local end-market in Metro Vancouver that processes this material into pellets that can be manufactured into new packaging and other products.
  • Glass is shipped to Abbotsford to be processed into new bottles and to Quesnel to be made into sandblast materials.
  • Metal containers are sold to end-markets in BC, Ontario and the United States and can be recycled into new packaging, like aluminum cans, and sheet metal for automotive manufacturing.
  • Paper collected is sold to end-markets overseas, in the United States or in BC and can be made into things like egg cartons, boxes and other paper products.
  • Foam packaging is recycled locally in Metro Vancouver and overseas and made into things like picture frames and crown mouldings.
  • Other flexible plastic packaging is collected as part of a research and development project to determine how best this material can be recycled. During this time, material that is unable to be recycled will be recovered and produced into engineered fuel.

By the numbers

In 2018, 87.3 per cent of material collected through the Recycle BC program was managed by recycling.

A portion of the material collected could not be recycled, but moved up the pollution-prevention hierarchy by becoming engineered fuel to be used as a replacement for coal in industrial processes. This represented only 3 per cent of Recycle BC materials, the majority of which was plastic that could not be recycled.

Finally, 8 per cent of the material collected was sent to landfills because of contamination. The remaining material, accounting for less than 2 per cent, represents unshipped inventory at year’s end. All of this information is in Recycle BC’s annual report for 2018.

Recycling more than ever

Recycle BC has expanded the materials accepted in the curbside bin over the last five years, meaning Port Alberni residents can now include more items than ever in their blue boxes – items like aerosol cans and the caps, concentrated juice containers, plastic berry containers, hot and cold drink cups, empty coffee pods, plastic plant pots and more. All items must be rinsed and free of residue to ensure no contamination.

For more info on all the Extended Producer Responsibility services in the Alberni Valley, visit acrd.bc.ca/recycling

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