An Ottawa Valley recycler has ceased operations, citing China’s refusal to import second-hand materials for driving prices down.
Beaumen Waste Management Systems Ltd. informed municipalities of its closing last Sunday evening, leaving residents in Renfrew County and Arnprior County in Eastern Ontario temporarily without a recycler – a consequence of the greater international recycling emergency.
Andrew Shouldice, president and chief executive officer of Beaumen, said the recycler has struggled since China stopped importing 24 types of recyclable commodities, beginning in 2018. He said nothing in North America is really recyclable unless there’s a buyer for the product.
“It’s driven the prices of all the recyclable material down,” he said.
The recycler is the latest to close as Canada struggles to find markets for its second-hand trash.
In May, The Globe and Mail did an analysis of international trade data and found that Canadian exports of scrap plastic fell by one-fifth last year. Exports to China, once the destination of most of the world’s recyclable exports, plunged by 96 per cent after the Asian country’s ban, while exports to Hong Kong dropped by 72 per cent. China’s ban raised recycling costs by as much as 40 per cent.
Peter Emon, a councillor in Renfrew, said he heard of Beaumen’s financial troubles while touring the facility three months ago. Mr. Emon said the close was because of rising costs of insurance and trouble purchasing new garbage and recycling trucks, as well as the lack of a second-hand market for recyclables.
“It just plummeted, and now it’s cut into [Beaumen’s] revenue,” he said.
Mr. Emon said Renfrew has asked its constituents to hold recyclables for a week until the municipality can a find a replacement. He said he’s hoping to have something in place by the second week of July, but adding that it could be challenging to find a new taker.
As Canada continues to search for new spaces for its trash, international markets are clamping down.
India, another larger market for recycled materials, announced plans to tighten plastic imports, and earlier this spring, Ottawa agreed to take back dozens of shipping containers full of Canada’s trash that have resided in Philippines ports.
Mr. Shouldice said the changes have been catastrophic for big and small material processing facilities. The trends, he said, will affect the entire global market.
“It’s pretty obvious that things are going to get worse before they’re going to get better,” Mr. Shouldice said.