New Years’ is the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by and set course for the year ahead. It’s also a good time to capture the milestones in a journey.

2017 started on a high note. In January, the national carton recycling rate was 57%. More than double the rate of 26% recorded in 2008, the year before the Carton Council of Canada was established.

This milestone was achieved, in part, through significant progress in Ontario where municipalities saw year-over-year increases in the amount of polycoat (post-consumer cartons) sold to end-markets over four years. In March 2017, the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority described the 7,000 tonnes of food and beverage cartons sold to end-markets by municipalities in 2015 — a 4.2% increase over the previous year — as the single largest year-over-year increase of any commodity. Way to go Ontario!

Nurturing young recyclers

Elsewhere in Ontario, the Carton Council engaged, on a pilot basis, four schools from the York Catholic District School Board in the Recycle Everywhere 101 program. The program complements schools’ existing waste diversion programs by providing additional recycling bins, meeting with students and teachers to discuss waste diversion and recycling “do’s and don’ts”, as well as follow-up support. Schools were happy with the presentations that were delivered, and the new bins and companion signage that were provided. And students were receptive to the program.

Looking to the future and Partnering to build awareness

Naturally the Council has also been fully engaged in Ontario’s consultations on the amended Blue Box Program Plan, led by Stewardship Ontario.

In British Columbia (BC), the Council entered into a new collaboration with Encorp Pacific, the agency overseeing the provincial beverage container deposit program. The consumer education campaign was developed to eliminate confusion about the different recycling systems for cartons. Posts ran on social media throughout the Fall and during the holiday period. The Council also renewed a collaboration with Recycle BC to promote recycling of dairy, dairy substitute, and non-beverage cartons to consumers. This digital campaign ran throughout November.

End-markets had challenges in 2017

As was the case with some other commodities, 2017 was challenging in terms of end-markets for cartons. While the first quarter of 2017 was stable and the monthly average value for post-consumer cartons tracked above $100/tonne, starting in April there was a drop in the average price.

While movement of post-consumer carton loads was difficult in certain parts of Canada over the second and third quarters of 2017, the outlook has improved. The Carton Council expects markets to further improve as new expected consumption for the grade will come on line during the first half of 2018 with the start-up of Paper Corea, a new mill in Korea, and a second line at the ReWall Company plant in Des Moines, Iowa.

As we begin a new year, the Carton Council intends to build on these and other achievements. We will continue to advance long-term solutions for the challenges we encounter through collaboration with stakeholders in the value chain to ensure sustainable recycling for cartons.

We wish you the very best in 2018!