The burning question
What to do with packaging and paper products that don’t currently have value in recycling markets
In its article Matt Prindiville, Associate Director of UPSTREAM, tries to find the solution for the problem of packaging and paper products that don’t currently have value in recycling markets. Although producers operating in British Columbia − who are responsible for meeting a 75% waste diversion target for packaging and printed paper (PPP) − want to collect as many containers, newspapers, cans and other products as possible, they also collect non-recyclable materials in the meantime. Since the recycling of these latter materials is not economically or technically feasible, producers often simply burn or burry them.
Most EU programs: 1) make producers responsible for collection and waste diversion targets, and 2) allow them to burn anything that they can’t sell. This approach is widely shared in the United States as well. According to Matt Prindiville, this incineration focused policy is problematic from two practical reasons:
1. “incinerating low to no-value PPP materials prevents consideration of a critical waste reduction strategy: design change, and
2. incinerators make waste issues seem to “go away,” and decrease investment in design-for-the-environment, waste prevention, recycling and composting”.
The full article with the detailed reasoning and with proposed new policies which could lead to a real solution can be found on the website of UPSTREAM.