Following China's recent move to stop accepting recycling from Canadian municipalities, some people are concerned that recycling will end up being taken to local landfills to be disposed of.  

Susan Grimm, Team Lead for Airdrie's Waste and Recycling department, insists that's not going to happen anytime soon.

"Absolutely not.  At this point in time, there's not even discussion on that happening here.  In Airdrie for sure and I haven't heard that talk in Calgary either."

China had been taking about 50 percent of Calgary's mixed paper and plastic recycling but decided in July to stop accepting shipments of recycling from some countries, including Canada, by the end of 2017.  Since Airdrie sends it's recycling to Calgary, that has had an effect on the city, although Grimm says it's been minimal so far.

"The National Sword Program is the name of the program and because we send our recycling to Cascades (Recovery) there has been a slight impact, not nearly to the extent that Calgary has had.  Since our program started in April, we've only been affected since October and we have inventory of about 18 metric tonnes of plastic.  It's minimal and at this point, there's no effect and we're continuing to collect things the same way we always have.  We're not making any changes."

Grimm says that between April and December 2017, Airdrie has collected 2,700 metric tonnes of recycling.  

Grimm says Calgary is seeking out other potential markets for it's recycling and Airdrie plans to wait out the situation until that can happen.

"Recycling is a commodity like oil and gas and depending on market values and availability of suitable markets for product it goes up and down all the time.  We experienced this same type of issue in 2008 with newspapers.  We're going to wait it out and we're going to see one of two things.  The restrictions in China could potentially relax or a new source could be found, local or there's things in India and in Thailand.  There's different markets that are available."

Grimm indicates that China made the move to stop accepting shipments of recycling because they were receiving contaminated materials in those shipments.  Those contaminants included some hazardous materials and Grimm says she can't blame them for not wanting to accept dirty recycling.

In the meantime, Grimm hopes that residents of Airdrie will continue with the excellent job they've been doing with recycling.  "Keep the material clean, and make sure it's only material that should go in there and that's how we can continue to do our part."


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