In conversation with our local BOWEN WASTE SERVICE we have learned that as much as 30% of collected plastic recycleables will be rejected for recycling and will end up being incinerated instead. Also, we are hearing stories of ships carrying baled plastics for recyling being turned away by China (fair enough!) and cruising the seas looking to pay a country willing to take the load...often ending up where there are inadequate facilities. Plastics in the ocean, in the land, despite our efforts here at home to dutifully recycle.
What to do.
We are working with Bowen Waste to switch all of our take away packaging to COMPOSTABLE material. The glitch is of course that neither Bowen nor Vancouver have the facilities needed to actually turn all of these plant based packaging materials into compost, and so a large portion are pulled out and sent to incineration. Here's the advocacy part: we are working to have the Municipality support the installation and management of a green waste digestor on Bowen. (Write to the Muni if you support this idea!) If such a facility could be installed, and if all food service providers on Bowen could switch to compostable packaging, we could 1) stop trucking heavy food waste off island, 2) eliminate the thousands of non-recyclable coffee cups in the Bowen waste stream 3) generate energy from the digestor that could be re-directed and 4) keep take out containers out of the garbage.
And in the meantime, incinerating corn based food packages is better than incinerating plastic ones. And these corn based materials will eventually break down if they do end up in the environment, where plastic will not.