PPEC says paper providers want to recycle and use them again.
It’s not quite ‘ban the bomb’, but Canada’s paper packaging industry says it wants the Ontario provincial government to ban old corrugated boxes from landfill sites.
Noting that Quebec is also banning used corrugated from landfill in 2013, PPEC’s (Paper & Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council) executive director John Mullinder says the Ontario paper industry wants its provincial government to follow suit, stating that a ban that covers public and privately-owned landfills would trumpet political leadership, while showing everyone wins, especially the environment.”
PPEC estimates the environmental benefits realized from banning OCC (old corrugated containers) from landfills in Ontario and Quebec include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 85,000 tonnes—which is the equivalent of removing some 15,000 vehicles from the road.
In Ontario alone, the OCC ban would extend the life of existing Ontario landfills by up to two-and-a-half years, which will provide more time to find newer landfills as the current ones are filled up.
Fiscally, PPEC estimates that Ontario and Quebec municipalities will achieve operational cost savings of between $12 million and $18 million from such a ban.
“And instead of these used boxes rotting in landfill, we get to use them again,” notes Mullinder.
The corrugated industry relies heavily on utilizing recycled materials mostly in the form of old boxes to convert into new boxes, containing a national average of 82 per cent of recycled material. While the majority of that recycled material is derived from used boxes collected from supermarkets and factories, PPEC says that a growing amount of recycled material is coming from the household Blue Box, with the most recent recovery rate for OCC via Blue Box was 87 per cent.
But it’s not enough, says the council.
“Ideally, we would like zero packaging waste going to landfill, and if a provincial ban helps us get there, then so be it. But we can’t do it by ourselves,” says Mullinder. “We need the province to step up and demonstrate leadership in this area. It makes good sense to harmonize with what Quebec is doing.”
PPEC points to Nova Scotia’s major waste diversion gains by banning recyclable materials, including OCC, from landfill several years ago.
“We’re starting off with OCC here, but clearly other recyclable material streams, and other provinces, could be included down the road,” states Mullinder. “But let’s get this one moving first.”
The council recognizes that, as with Nova Scotia, it will take a minimum of two years for any ban to have a real effect, and that enforcement of the ban is crucial.
“We suspect that at first, more OCC is likely to flow south to the U.S.—which has lower landfill fees—but that before long, waste haulers will have to factor in the increased energy costs of shipping that OCC greater distances, and then hopefully decide to ship them to an Ontario or Quebec recycling mill instead. Maybe a provincial ban together with a shipping-to-landfill charge at a transfer station is the answer,” says Mullinder, “but somehow we have to make landfilling these perfectly recyclable materials more costly, and recycling them more sustainable. We want those boxes.”
PPEC is the national trade association representing the Canadian paper packaging industry on environmental issues with members including both the mills that produce containerboard, boxboard and kraft paper packaging and the converters who turn this into boxes, bags and cartons.