Manitoba

Hot summer, thirsty Manitobans likely reason for Recycle Everywhere's 1st drop in recovery rates: association

After seven consecutive years of improving recycling performance, the Recycle Everywhere program has seen its first drop in beverage container recover rates according to their 2017 annual report.

After 7 years of growth, Recycle Everywhere program saw 2% drop in beverage container recovery rates in 2017

The Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association distributes recycling bins across Manitoba to promote and facilitate primarily away-from-home recycling. The association's 2017 annual report shows a decline in recovery rates of two per cent, from 70 per cent of all containers sold in Manitoba in 2016 to 68 per cent. (CBCRA)

After seven consecutive years of increasing beverage container recovery rates, Manitoba's Recycle Everywhere program recorded its first decline in performance last year.

That may be because Manitobans were just drinking more beverages from recyclable containers during a hot summer, the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association says.

The CBCRA published its latest annual report on Tuesday, which shows bottle recovery rates dropped from 70 per cent of all containers sold in Manitoba in 2016 to 68 per cent in 2017.

In 2010, when the Recycle Everywhere program was established, the province set a 75 per cent recovery rate target. Actual rates hovered at just over 40 per cent at that point.

The executive director for the recycling association says while the number of bottles recovered is up from last year, a spike in sales in the Manitoba market caused the recovery rate to drop.

Ken Friesen says the spike in bottles entering the market probably has to do with the unusually hot and dry weather conditions in the summer of 2017.

The CBCRA has distributed thousands of recycling bins across the province to help reduce the number of beverage containers that end up in the landfill. (Twitter/CBCRA)

"The actual tonnes recovered increased by four per cent.… However, the generation in 2017 was up six per cent, which is a huge increase in one year," he said.

Performance plateau 'normal'

The CBCRA says hitting a plateau on its recovery rates was to be expected.

"In any business, you tend to have a growth period and you plateau before you grow again, so quite normal for that to happen," said Friesen.

"The last percentages before 75 per cent [the target set by the government] are going to be more difficult to achieve than the first percentages, when we were starting at 42 per cent."

Friesen says one of the association's initiatives for the coming year is to follow up with partners and municipalities that have installed Recycle Everywhere blue bins to ensure they are being deployed in the best possible way — meaning they're always paired with a garbage can.

"If you have a recycling bin on its own, you'll have too many people throwing their garbage into there … and that ends up contaminating that stream," he said.

"If you only have a garbage bin on its own in a public space, same thing — too many people still won't bother hanging onto their beverage container."

The CBCRA is a not-for-profit organization, funded by the beverage industry and tasked with reducing the number of single-use, non-alcoholic and non-dairy beverage containers that end up in Manitoba landfills by facilitating away-from-home recycling.

Earlier this year, a consulting firm that produces a Canada-wide report on beverage container recovery performance across all provinces refused to include the CBCRA's recovery statistics in its study, citing a lack of transparency in their methodology. The CBCRA refuted these claims.

About the Author

Jacques Marcoux

Data journalist

Jacques Marcoux is a CBC News investigative reporter specializing in data analysis. Previously he worked as a multiplatform reporter for the CBC's French network Radio-Canada, as a public relations officer in the agricultural industry and worked in competitive intelligence gathering in the financial industry. Confidential email: jacques.marcoux@cbc.ca