Links and Facts About Recycling
The 4 Rs of Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Recover state the order of desirability in our efforts to manage waste. Our goal is to keep plastic resources at their highest value in the hierarchy. Recycling is preferred over landfill or recovery efforts for the energy savings and green house gas reduction. There are certain types of plastics that are a challenge to recycle through mechanical systems, and recovery can play an important role in achieving zero waste by complimenting recycling and reuse options. These technologies include pyrolysis (plastics to diesel or oil), energy from waste (using mass-burn in a closed-system where no harmful compounds or chemicals can be released), and chemical recycling (where the plastics are broken down into their building blocks, or monomers and then can be built back up into new materials).
The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners has created a report that provides an overview of the current technologies for recovery. The report addresses a $120 billion potential market for plastics and petrochemicals that could be met by recovering plastics that are currently going to the landfill as well as significant environmental benefits for pollution and emission reduction. The report provides an industry overview and features companies across North America that are operating unique technologies that could be part of creating a circular economy for plastics.
In April 2022, the CIAC released a whitepaper on advanced recycling titled Advanced Recycling White paper: Seizing the Circular Plastics Opportunity. “Many Canadian companies are leading the way on research into advanced recycling. These new technologies transform plastic products back into their basic molecules, allowing the production of new resins, pellets, and plastic products that will continuously recirculate in the economy. Investing in plastics recycling infrastructure and technology will increase the availability and use of recycled plastics in products. Given recycled plastic resins have a lower environmental footprint than virgin resins, it will also increase the availability of made-in-Canada low-carbon products, providing an important trade advantage.”
In July 2022, The Conference Board of Canada released a report called Infinite Cycles: Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness in Chemical Plastics Recycling.
“Chemical recycling is an important pillar of plastic innovation. Firms in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere are developing innovative chemical recycling technologies to remedy the limitations of mechanical recycling.”