Paper recycling continues to gain momentum across Ontario, according to the latest figures from the provincial Blue Box program administrator Stewardship Ontario showing a nearly 70-percent recovery rate for all the paper packaging entering the province’s households last year.
And with 76 per cent of all the paper generated by Ontario households—including printed paper, boxes cartons and bags—put back into the municipal recycling streams via the Blue Box curb side recycling network, Ontario residents are starting to demonstrate deep-rooted commitment to the cause of packaging sustainability, according to the Brampton, Ont.-based industry group Paper & Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council (PPEC).
“This is a very good result for paper packaging,” says PPEC executive director John Mullinder. “It tells Ontarians that their efforts to recycle paper packaging are worthwhile, and presents us with a feedstock that we can use again and again.
“Not many people realize that the average recycled content of the paper packaging we supply to the Canadian marketplace is 66 per cent,” Mullinder adds. “The impression that we grab a chainsaw every time we need a new box to deliver products is just so totally false.”
Mullinder says he’s especially impressed with statistics showing a 65-percent residential recovery rate for the lighterweight boxboard carton commonly used to package cereals and foodstuffs—showing a seven-percent gain from the 2007 numbers.
“These cartons are mostly 100-percent recycled content in the first place,” says Mullinder, “and in fact Ontario pioneered the further recycling of this material almost 20 years ago.
“It does present problems at the reprocessing stage, but to have some 65 per cent of it diverted from landfill is really good.”
Despite the improvement, residential households are still playing catch-up to paper recycling rates recorded by Ontario-based businesses, says Mullinder, citing a 92-percent recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCCs)—a 15-percent gain from the year before—and estimating overall corrugated recovery rate by industry at about 80 per cent.
“To put corrugated recycling in perspective,’’ says Mullinder, “just one large supermarket chain in Ontario sends more than four times as many old corrugated boxes for recycling than all the municipalities of Ontario combined.”