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Study: Focusing on clean polyethylene could help film recycling

By: Michael Lauzon

June 6, 2013

Focusing on clean polyethylene film is the best way to boost recycling rates of the post-consumer material, according to a study led by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.

CPIA of Mississauga, Ontario, led a study on flexible plastic film packaging to look at options for post-consumer film collection, processing, sorting and end-uses. Results of the study are published on the websites of CPIA, the Continuous Improvement Fund and Stewardship Ontario.

The study reports that there is excess recycling capacity in North America for clean PE film. It concluded efforts should be focused on collecting clean PE films separate from other recycling streams.

If PE film is part of curbside recycling, additional washing capacity is needed. Sorting of PE film from other films is not currently cost effective, but if films are mixed they represent an energy source that can be burned as fuel.

The Continuous Improvement Fund is a partnership of Ontario municipalities, the City of Toronto, Stewardship Ontario and Waste Diversion Toronto. Stewardship Ontario is an industry-funded agency which overseas Ontario’s blue box curbside recycling programs and recovery of hazardous waste materials.