The City of Calgary is sending 2,000 tonnes of plastic clamshell containers to the landfill in August. After taxpayers paid a few hundred thousand dollars to store them, it turns out no one will recycle the containers. Lisa MacGregor reports.
An estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic containers currently sitting in storage will be sent to a landfill next month, city officials announced Tuesday.
So-called clamshell containers are challenging to recycle because of the labels and adhesives used on them, which require extra washing to remove. This, coupled with changes to global recycling markets, have left limited options for recycling the plastics.
Faced with a lack of options, the City of Calgary began sorting and storing the plastic containers in September 2017 to give markets time to stabilize and officials time to explore their choices.
However, on Tuesday, the City of Calgary said all available options for the previously-stored clamshell containers have been exhausted, and as such, they’re going to the dump.
“This is the first time we’ve had to landfill material due to market issues, and we are just as disappointed as many Calgarians will be about this,” Sharon Howland, leader of program management with waste and recycling services, said.
“These clamshell containers represent about one to two per cent of the annual Blue Cart tonnage,” Howland said. “While landfilling the stored clamshells is a small setback, it was important for us to focus on finding a long-term solution for all of Calgary’s clamshells.”
The cost to store the material has been $330,000.
The cost of landfilling the stored material — including unloading the storage trailers, moving the material to the landfill, burying and compaction — is $130,000.
“The total cost works out to $1.40 per blue cart household for the storage and landfilling of this material over the entire two-year period,” a news release stated.
The City of Calgary said it worked with its recycling contractor, Cascades Recovery+, to find a “consistent and reliable” solution for the recycling of clamshell plastics with local company Merlin Plastics, which started in April.
“There is no future without recycling,” Howland said. “We have a single planet with finite resources and we need recycled materials to conserve resources and put materials back into productive use.”
According to the City of Calgary, 95 per cent of local households use their blue cart recycling bin on a regular basis.
“Our overall recycling program is still going strong with Calgarians recycling over 600 million kilograms over the last 10 years,” Howland said.
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