Chinese ban on foreign recyclables having an impact in Sydney
Sydney is the latest city to admit it is being affected by China's ban on lower-quality recyclable plastics like shopping and grocery bags.
There are nearly 80 tonnes of plastics sitting idle at the Sydport Industrial Park in Sydney. Most of it is processed and baled, but has nowhere to go.
"There's not a lot of markets for film plastic, so that's really becoming an issue with us now – trying to find a market to send that material to to be recycled," says Francis Campbell, manager of Cape Breton Regional Municipality Solid Waste.
China’s ban on lower grade foreign recyclables was announced back in July. While there are some private buyers in North America, much of the market is saturated.
Campbell says Solid Waste is content with the plastics sitting idle, but only in the short term. But not all municipalities have the storage capacity that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does.
"There have been other municipalities that are looking at alternative methods to get rid of this stuff,” says Campbell. “Whether it's disposal or burning it in cement kilns – people are looking at all kinds of different ideas."
Halifax has been granted a six-month permit by Nova Scotia's Department of Environment to bury plastics in a landfill in Hants County. But that's only a temporary solution, and a move described as a “last resort.”
There's also the challenge of finding new buyers before the plastics degrade, as well as the financial hit.
The recyclables are currently being contracted
Gena Alderson, the waste diversion co-ordinator for southeast New Brunswick, tells CTV News, "The most significant impact for Southeast Eco360 has been on material prices. With the close of the china markets, our usual markets have been flooded with material and this has brought prices down over the last few months."
CBRM says it has no plans to send its plastic to the dump or discourage citizens from using plastic.
"We're pretty confident,” says Campbell. “Our operators and brokers are telling us there should be another market opening up in the next couple of months."
CTV News reached out to waste management officials on Prince Edward Island, as well as in the Saint John and Miramichi areas, but did not receive a response by news time.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.