Garbage builds up on P.E.I. after China changes its rules

Island Waste Management has stockpiled more than 100 tonnes of plastic recyclables since the late fall after China said it wouldn't accept as much from North America.

China's refusal to take as much has left piles of garbage being stockpiled across North America

More than 100 tonnes of garbage has been piling up on P.E.I. after China said it would not accept as many recyclables from overseas. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Island Waste Management has stockpiled more than 100 tonnes of plastic recyclables since the late fall, when China announced it would no longer accept most recyclables from overseas.

CEO Gerry Moore said that the change has left jurisdictions across North America scrambling to find another solution.

Island Waste Management has been burning some of the plastic bags that have been stockpiled on P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"It's not only Prince Edward Island, but all jurisdictions across Canada and North America as a matter of fact where the marketing of that material has become a little bit of a challenge," Moore said.

Bales of the mainly plastic grocery bags are being compressed and stored on two to three transport trailers on Island Waste's property, waiting for new markets.

Island Waste also paid around $3,500 for another 60 tonnes to be burned at the Energy From Waste plant in Charlottetown.

"We burn plastic now that comes in through the non-recyclable plastic in our waste stream," Moore said. "Plastic for the most part is a solid petroleum product and is actually an excellent fuel source.

"We're fortunate here in P.E.I. to have the Energy From Waste facility so that we're able, particularly in this short term situation, to use some of the materials to fuel that facility."

Island Waste Management CEO Gerry Moore said the company is hoping to find new markets for the recyclables it collects on the Island. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Moore said none of the recyclable plastic will be going into the landfill, a solution some other jurisdictions in Canada are considering. He is hopeful a new market will open up in the next few months. 

  "On a temporary basis, we are utilizing at that facility to use it for heat for them. We see long-term  that the market will rebound and we will find markets, long term, for the plastic film."

Island Waste Management said this stockpile of plastic bags is a reminder about what they say is the importance of reducing waste in the first place. One way to make the pile smaller, company officials say, is to bring your own re-usable shopping bags to the grocery store.