Supporting Canadian Industry & the Environment
How many items do you use everyday that are made of recycled plastics?
When you look around your home, chances are you see many items made of plastic that started off in your recycling bin – or your neighbours’.
More and more foods and other products are packaged today in plastic materials.
Recycling technologies that are common today were in their infancy just a few years ago ago and many more are in development. With these advances come new opportunities to extend the life of plastic materials, to reduce the amount of waste in landfill and create new products and packaging that are valuable to industry and consumers in Canada and worldwide. Once recycled, these items return as new products and packaging that you can use in different ways.
Our goal is to ensure that recycling options are available to as many households as possible and to encourage growth in areas where it’s not yet universally available.
For nearly 30 years, CPIA has taken the lead in promoting plastics recycling, working with our members, the scientific and academic community, the recycling industry, end markets, government authorities and consumers to safely and economically find new ways to recycle plastic packaging. What started as a focus on PET bottles and HDPE jugs has expanded to a wide range of recyclable plastics that continues to grow.
For CPIA and our members, these materials are just too valuable to waste.
- Industry employing thousands of people in Canada
- Value in the resin
- Reduce energy to create new products and packaging
What is Recycling?
For plastics, recycling is a process where different types of plastics are melted, then blended with new raw materials to create pellets or powder that companies use to create new packaging and products. This can be ‘closed loop’ recycling, where a recycled bottle might become a new bottle or the end product may be something completely new, such as when a bottle is recycled to into a fleece jacket, or a shopping bag becomes carpet or board for a backyard deck.
Recycling seems like a simple process, but it's tricky. It can be like using a recipe that will only work if you start with the right ingredients then prepare exactly according to instructions.
Are All Plastics Recyclable?
Most plastics are recyclable and CPIA works continuously to expand the range of possibilities to include those that aren't recyclable today.
Here's how to find out what to recycle
type but not recyclability Resin codes identify plastic
resins mix well together, but for those that don't, recycling them together is like oil and water and the resulting resin
can't be used . Plastic containers are made of different types of plastic resin identified by resin codes - numbers inside a triangle - on the bottom of each container. The containers look alike but they’re not because each resin consists of very specific chemical molecules. Some
Many plastic containers include a 'mobius loop' triangle with a number inside that tells you what plastic the container is made of. You can match this to information your community provides about the plastics it collects for recycling.
Why Aren’t All Plastics Recycled?
Recycling seems easy: collect, then grind, wash and rinse used plastics before you melt and shape recycled resins into new products and packaging.
In reality, recycling starts further up the ‘product chain’, with decisions made to ensure that a product successfully makes its way to consumers and does its job. The product or packaging may need to be lightweight, durable, anti-corrosive, insulating, unbreakable, coloured vibrantly or a mix of these and more characteristics.
Need a cup-shaped container to hold liquid and keep heat in without burning hands? Polystyrene foam is the answer. Need a bottle to hold corrosive materials, prevent congealing, overheating and decay due to light? That’s HDPE (#2). Or do you need a package that’s small, easy to open, will never break and mold into smaller spaces safely containing liquid? That would be a pouch (#7).
The variety of plastic materials reflects these options but it’s these characteristics that influence which resins are used for different product and packaging types.
Examples of products made with recycled plastic
The variety of products and packages created from recycled plastics is extensive and just keeps growing. From fleece sweaters to underground pipes and culverts to carpets, totes and even outdoor play equipment - the uses of recycled plastics are virtually limitless. Here's a selection of resources to find out more:
- CPIA's Image Bank series on Items made from Recycled Plastics
- Plastics Make It Possible - What Happens to Recycled Plastics?
- Recycle Your Plastics - What Plastics Can Become
Everything you want to know about plastics…
We’ve designed this section to answer all the questions we’ve been asked about recycling. But if you don’t, please send us your comments and questions and we’ll get back to you.