Canada Ships Recyclables to China and then Ships Them Back Again

Canadian Container Ship Photo

Image via: EnviroZine

We've reported in the past how the US and others ship waste (especially e-waste) to China for demolition and recycling. Add Canada to that list, who shipped over 20,000 tonnes of mixed paper each year for the last two years, reports the Toronto Star, not to mention another 10,000 tonnes of milk jug plastic to South Korea. Canada made $600,000 and $800,000 respectively for the last two years and hopes to start sending disposable coffee cups to South Korea too, but is this type of recycling sustainable?Depending on the locale, some municipalities in Canada let residents co-mingle recycling for ease of residential recycling, but this means it must be sorted and resorted and resorted. If its still too dirty, it can't be recycled in Canada, but facilities in China have an extra layer of employees who can clean and sort through this layer of recyclables.

Toronto's Solid Waste Department acknowledges that in the long term shipping waste around the world is not sustainable and hopes that eventually local paper mills and recycling facilities will be able to keep the materials local. Currently items are loaded on a train and driven to the coast where they are then stacked on boats, given several weeks to ship to China and then unloaded onto trucks and driven to recycling plants. Others feel this current system is just a "necessary evil" until communities develop their own recycling facilities. This ongoing loop means that currently items are shipped for breakdown in China, the materials are then repurposed into new products that are then shipped and sold in Canada, and then disposed of and shipped back to China.

On another note, a plan is in the works in Ontario to have producers pay the full cost of recycling their products, instead of residents paying half. :The Ontario Star
More on Recycling in China
In China, Recycling by Tricycle
Hong Kong's Real Recycling Blends Bin Collection With Street Sales
To Be Buried Under Plastic Bags and PowerBooks
60 Minutes Reporter Attacked in Chinese E-Waste Pit

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