Report card time! We’ve graded the 22 different material categories used by Ontario’s Blue Box system according to their most recent (2018) “sent for recycling” numbers.
We’ve also looked back to see how much printed paper and packaging was sent for recycling in 2003 to discern any improvements or otherwise. It was in 2003 that industry stewards (brand owners and retailers) first became legally obligated to fund 50% of Ontario Blue Box net costs and began collecting this data.
Here are the rankings with some historical perspective thrown in:
Corrugated Boxes 98%
Magazines, Catalogues 89%
Recovery for these materials was estimated at 72% back in 2003 so they have done very well. This is the fourth year in a row that corrugated box recovery has reached 98%.
Old Newspapers 80%
Old Telephone Books 75%
Clear Glass 72%
Steel Food & Beverage Cans 70%
Old Boxboard Cartons 62%
The largest improvement in recovery percentage since 2003 has been for old boxboard cartons (up from 42%) followed by steel food and beverage cans (up from 53%) and clear glass (up from 57%).
Coloured Glass 57%
Gable Top Cartons 56%
PET Plastic Bottles 55%
HDPE Plastic Bottles 54%
Aluminium Food & Beverage Cans 47%
Gable-top cartons have jumped from 10% back in 2003 to 56% but the others in this group have only made marginal improvements (between four and six points). The percentage of coloured glass sent for recycling has fallen four points over the period.
Other Printed Paper 38%
Other Plastics 34%
Steel Aerosols 31%
Aseptic Cartons 30%
The biggest improvements in this group were Other Plastics (up from 6%) and Aseptic Cartons (up from 10%) in 2003. There is clearly an opportunity to promote greater recovery of printing and writing paper. It should not be scoring a D here!
Plastic Film 10%
Paper Laminants 9%
Steel Paint Cans 7%
Plastic Laminants 3%
There has not been much progress in this group over the last 16 years of data. Paper laminants have gone from an estimated 1% to 9%; plastic film from 6% to 10%; plastic laminants from 1% to 3% and polystyrene from 3% to 4%. The recovery of steel paint cans has fallen significantly, down from 23%.
By broader material grouping, paper (72%), glass (68%) and steel (62%) scored a B; aluminum (41%) a C; and plastics (30%) a D.
These material rankings and the progress (or lack of progress) shown since 2003 should form the basis of current discussions over the future of Ontario’s Blue Box system. It is doing well in some respects but poorly in others. Why this is so, and how to address the “under-performers” (let alone set targets!), are key issues as we move ahead
Source: PPEC Analysis of Stewardship Ontario Blue Box data between 2003 and 2018