Stored plastic clamshells to be landfilled

AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – Approximately 130 metric tonnes of stored plastic clamshell containers collected from blue carts in Airdrie will be landfilled in August. This makes up two per cent of total material collected through the curbside recycling program from Sept 2017 - April 2019.

“Airdrie’s focus is to keep recyclable material out of the landfill,” said Susan Grimm, Team Leader, Waste & Recycling Services. “We know that this is disappointing, but we have secured a solution to recycle plastic clamshells moving forward.”

Since the introduction of the Chinese National Sword program in 2017, the recycling market has been volatile and constantly fluctuating. One of the implications of this program was that the Chinese market stopped accepting plastic clamshells for recycling.

Instead of changing our programs or asking residents to put their plastic clamshells in the garbage, the City of Airdrie made a conscious decision to store plastic clamshells and work with Cascades Recovery+, our recycling processor, to seek alternative recycling options. Cascades Recovery+ has been investigating alternatives to landfilling this stored material over the past two years but unfortunately, a feasible solution to recycling stored clamshells could not be found.

Airdrie’s Waste & Recycling department is working with neighboring municipalities, AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association), the Province, producers and recyclers of packaging and paper products to develop a provincial Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program. An EPR program is designed to make manufacturers, not municipalities, responsible for the packaging that they produce. In other provinces this has encouraged producers to create alternatives for plastic clamshells, like cardboard or compostable clamshells.

Cascades Recovery+ works with Merlin Plastics to process plastic material. Clamshell plastic is difficult to recycle due to the types of labels and adhesives used which requires an extended wash process. Merlin Plastics has recently upgraded and expanded their washing process, which allows them to create a marketable product with plastic clamshells. Since April, plastic clamshells have been recycled with this new solution. Merlin Plastics cannot process previously stored plastic clamshells in a timely, cost-effective fashion due to volume.

Residents should continue recycling their plastic clamshells in their blue cart. To ensure our recyclables are marketable, recycling needs to be clean and dry. Residents who are not sure what goes where should visit

“We encourage residents to reduce, reuse and repair items where possible,” said Grimm. “Residents can also contact their MLAs, Angela Pitt and Peter Guthrie, to let them know that the Extended Producer Responsibility program is a priority for them and for the environment.”


Media contact:
Susan Grimm
Team Leader, Waste & Recycling Services
403.948.8800 ext 6296


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