Canada's Flexible Plastic Packaging Recycling Study

Results of Canada's plastic packaging recycling study. PRFLEX initiative targets circularity, collection, and innovation. Learn about challenges and recommendations for a sustainable future

Canada's Flexible Plastic Packaging Recycling Study

Results from the first phase of a study into Canada’s recycling system found that flexible materials account for 47% of the plastic packaging put on the Canadian market.

The PRFLEX initiative, which aims to optimize the recycling system for flexible plastic packaging (FPP), was spearheaded by the Canada Plastics Pact, the Circular Plastics Task Force, Circular Materials, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, Recycle BC, the Film and Flexibles Recycling Coalition of The Recycling Partnership, and Eco Enterprise Quebec.

The goals of the PRFLEX study are to improve upstream innovation, design for circularity, collection, consumer education, sorting, recycling, and end-market development. The first phase of the study assessed collection and recycling rates for flexible plastic packaging in each province and did a gap analysis of the infrastructure and technologies in MRFs.

During a Dec. 13 webinar on the results, moderator Charles David Mathieu-Poulin, strategic adviser for the Circular Plastics Taskforce, said the research found that not only does FPP make up just under half of the plastic packaging that is put on the Canadian market, but there’s an estimated growth rate of 4.2% year to year through 2030.

“Everything that we’re going to be talking about today is going to become even more and more important as years come along,” he said, especially with increasing voluntary and regulatory pressure on recycling FPP: Under the country’s extended producer responsibility law for packaging, Quebec has a target of a 40% recycling rate for FPP by 2027, and Ontario a 25% rate by 2026.

Mathieu-Poulin said looking ahead, the report recommends better harmonization, dedicated collection of FPP in the industrial and business sectors, gaining a better understanding of composition and markets, acceptance of all FPP curbside, finding solutions for existing MRFs to reduce loose FPP, and improving the capability of MRFs to process FPP through technology upgrades.

Shorthouse added that the task force is “talking about putting together a steering committee of some sort or a governance body to drive these recommendations forward, so that it’s not just a report on the shelf but it does continue to engage the stakeholders and the partners that are needed to actually mobilize these recommendations.”


Keywords

Canada recycling system , PRFLEX initiative , Plastic packaging , Circular economy , Extended producer responsibility

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