With China increasingly reluctant to accept plastic waste from other countries, the Lac La Ronge Waste Management Corporation stopped recycling the product earlier this month.
That’s according to Manager Betty Hutchinson who said it was no longer economically viable for the recycling facility to accept the waste. She noted China is only accepting plastic waste with less than five per cent contamination, adding the equipment used in La Ronge to process the plastic isn’t efficient enough to achieve those results. If there is no place the plant can send the waste, Hutchinson stated the corporation simply can longer accept it.
“It costs us $137 a metric ton plus freight to get rid of plastic,” she said, adding it’s been expensive to recycle plastic throughout 2018. “We used to actually get paid. We get paid for the materials we ship from here. It doesn’t typically cost us money.”
Unplastic La Ronge Co-Founder Autumn Carlson was surprised the corporation was able to continue taking plastic for so long, adding local residents are lucky. She said many other countries around the world were already shut off from sending those products to China a few years ago. With its fast-growing economy, Carlson noted China now has a plastic problem of its own and countries need to take responsibility for the products they waste.
“We need to phase out single use plastic in a very big way,” she said. “We, as consumers, need to ask our stores to start charging for bags and much more than a few cents. Store owners need to train employees to not offer bags unless they are requested.”
“It’s archaic that they are still supplied freely without any thought about the toxic microplastics they break down into,” Carlson said about plastic bags. “They need to come at a much higher price so that they are valued as such, and so whenever possible, cloth bags are always the most cost-friendly option.”
Residents are reminded, however, plastic, aluminum, tin and glass beverage containers are accepted at Sarcan in La Ronge. Juice boxes and cartons, milk jugs and most plastic bottles are accepted there.