Paper Industry Wants Old Boxes Banned from Landfill

Canada’s paper packaging industry wants the Ontario government to ban old corrugated boxes from landfill. Quebec is moving to ban them from landfill next year and the industry wants Ontario to do the same, says PPEC executive director, John Mullinder. A provincial ban would demonstrate political leadership and is legally required to cover both private and publicly-owned landfills, he says. “It’s a win-win for everybody, but mainly for the environment.”

The council estimates that banning old corrugated containers (or OCC) from Ontario and Quebec landfills would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 85,000 tonnes (or the equivalent of taking 15,000 vehicles off the road).

A provincial ban on OCC would also extend the life of existing Ontario landfills by up to two and a half years, delaying costly measures to find new, always hard-to-site landfills as the current ones rapidly fill. PPEC estimates Ontario and Quebec municipalities will achieve operational cost savings of between $12 million and $18 million from such a ban.

“And instead of these used boxes rotting in landfill, we get to use them again,” he says. The industry relies heavily on recycled materials (mainly old boxes) to make new boxes, with a national average 82% recycled content. Most of that comes from used boxes collected from the back of supermarkets and factories, but an increasing amount is being sourced from the household Blue Box. The most recent recovery rate for OCC in the Blue Box was 87 per cent. But it’s not enough, says the council.

“Ideally, we would like zero packaging waste going to landfill, and if a provincial ban helps us get there, then so be it. But we can’t do it by ourselves,’’ says Mullinder. “We need the province to step up and demonstrate leadership in this area. It makes good sense to harmonise with what Quebec is doing.”

The council says Nova Scotia achieved major waste diversion gains by banning recyclable materials (including OCC) from landfill several years ago. “We’re starting off with OCC here, but clearly other recyclable material streams, and other provinces, could be included down the road. But let’s get this one moving first.”

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