The City of Calgary announced on Tuesday that they have run out of all options to recycle more than 2,000 tonnes of pre-stored plastic waste, and instead will be forced to bury them in a landfill. Despite the city insisting that this is the only way to effectively dispose of the waste, communities in the city have been left frustrated and disappointed by the news.

According to the city, the 2,000 tonnes is entirely made up of ‘plastic clamshells,’ the single-use container used in supermarkets to store fresh produce such as cherries, strawberries or tomatoes. 

The significant amount of plastic waste has been stored by the city since September 2017, and was constantly accumulating until April 2019. Storing the garbage for so long cost the tax-payer $330,000, and now moving, compacting, and burying it is likely to cost an additional $130,000.

The City explained that the containers were initially stored in order to thoroughly investigate all recycling options. Despite clamshell containers having  limited options for recycling, the city explored more than 50 different options for the waste. However, on Tuesday it was agreed that all avenues had been exhausted, and the best option would be to send the plastic to a landfill.

In April, the city did manage to find one way to recycle the plastic clamshells, by using local recycling company Merlin Plastics. However, the small business was unable to take the 2,000 tonnes of previously-stored plastic, as it could not recycle the material quickly enough to cut-down on the current storage costs.

Speaking in a news release on Tuesday, Sharon Howland, leader of program management with the City of Calgary’s Waste and Recycling Services, said, “This is the first time we’ve had to landfill material due to market issues, and we are just as disappointed as many Calgarians will be about this.”

Howland continued, “Our priority has always been to keep all recyclable materials out of the landfill.”

According to the Toronto Star, clamshell containers are notoriously hard to recycle appropriately, largely due to their shape, the work required to remove their labels and the materials often not being eligible for re-use.

While the city claims to have exhausted all options to recycle the waste, some Calgary residents remained unimpressed with the outcome, arguing that it should not be their responsibility to foot the bill.

One Twitter user wrote, “If a Calgary resident throws their plastic in the trash they get fined by council. So when council does it, shouldn't they pay us money, rather than charging us *even more*?”

Despite the setback, Howland explained it is important for residents of Calgary to remain positive. “We need Calgarians to continue recycling and keeping these materials out of the landfill. There is no future without recycling."

"We have a single planet with finite resources and we need recycled materials to conserve resources and put materials back into productive use,” she said.


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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