ACIP Québec

ACIP Québec

June 11, 2008 07:30 ET

CROP Survey Says One in Four Quebecers Still Throws Out Empty Plastic Bags

Plastics industry re-emphasizes that bags are a 100% recyclable resource

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - June 11, 2008) - According to a recent CROP(1) survey conducted for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (the industry), Quebecers are unclear about the environmental benefits of plastic shopping bags. One third of Quebecers (34%) still don't know that plastic bags represent a recoverable resource that can be recycled. This seems to be the reason why nearly a quarter of the province's residents continue to throw away their empty plastic bags with the garbage. And surprisingly, almost half of Quebecers think that all biodegradable plastic bags can be recycled.

Plastic shopping bags are a recoverable resource

"Most people don't understand that plastic shopping bags are a good environmental choice second to only reusable bags. Plastic shopping bags are a recoverable, reusable and recyclable resource that can be easily managed based on the 3 R's of sustainable development,"said Pierre Dubois, charge d'affaires for the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC), an organization founded by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association to promote and encourage responsible use and recovery of residual plastic materials(2).

The industry would like to remind Quebecers that plastic shopping bags are 100% recyclable and can be used to produce electricity or re-manufactured into a vast range of other plastic products like composite lumber. "We want to encourage people to reuse their shopping bags as often as possible, then recycle them, because this is a valuable resource the industry wants to recover," Dubois said.

Quebecers recycle their biodegradable bags

Of particular concern, the CROP survey shows that close to 50% of Quebecers attempt to recycle their biodegradable plastic bags with non-biodegradable bags mixing the different bag types in the recycling stream. Recyc-Quebec released a major research study produced by the Centre de recherche industrielle du Quebec (CRIQ) last fall which demonstrated that biodegradable plastics cannot always be recycled with conventional, non-biodegradable plastic bags, and if the two plastics are mixed together, the biodegradable plastic may contaminate the recycling stream and have adverse effects on current programs for the recycling of all of the plastic film(2).

"The CROP survey confirms that few people know the difference between a recyclable bag, a biodegradable bag or even a compostable bag,"said Dubois, "It underscores the need for bags to be certified as recyclable. As an industry we must do a much better job educating consumers and ensure that plastic bags are certified and clearly marked for consumers as recyclable. We need to take the confusion out of the marketplace and make it easy for consumers to recycle all these plastic bags."

Quebecers are adopting good bag habits

The CROP survey also confirms that a majority of Quebecers have adopted smart use strategies that are leading to a reduction in the number of conventional plastic shopping bags being distributed. Sixty-nine percent indicated that they use reusable shopping bags made from cloth or heavy-duty plastic and 59% always or frequently reuse plastic shopping bags as garbage bags in the kitchen.

Coming soon: a code of good practice

The industry recognizes that there is a need for more public education and for better recovery and recycling of plastic shopping bags; particular focus here is on collection, sorting and certification. The industry is working closely with the provincial and municipal governments and retailers to advance reduction, reuse and recycling strategies on plastic shopping bags.

"We've committed ourselves to work with the government, Recyc Quebec and our municipal partners to facilitate better access to recycling and improve the performance of recovery work in municipal sorting centres, " Dubois explained. "The industry will soon present its code of good practice, which will round out and complete the code presented by retailers in April."

The industry code will contain a number of commitments to help promote the reuse and recycling of bags such as a certification program for bags.

The industry has also set up a website for Quebecers to consult when they need information on the right way to recycle their plastic bags.

About the Canadian Plastics Industry Association

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is a not-for-profit organization representing the domestic plastics industry. Its 450 members include resin suppliers, mold and machinery equipment manufacturers, processors, re-processors, brokers and recyclers.

(1)Survey results are based on 1,000 telephone interviews conducted from April 17 to April 27 as part of a CROP-Express omnibus poll. Geographic distribution of respondents was as follows: Greater Montreal Area 500, Greater Quebec City Area 200, elsewhere in the province 300. Statistically, a sample of this size (n = 1,000) is considered accurate to within 3 points, 19 times out of 20.

(2)CRIQ (2007), Assessing the impact of biodegradable bags on the recycling of plastic bags traditional.

Contact Information

  • Allard Hervieu Communication
    Stephanie Fortin
    514-499-3030 ext. 774