Recycling in Canada is a failure

Canada’s Recycling Is Actually Polluting Our Planet

Canada’s recycling system is an unsustainable disaster overall, one that no one wants to talk about or even fix. That is except British Columbia.

You may be asking yourself, why is an online contact lens company in Canada talking about recycling and saving the planet? Simple: We dedicate ourselves to saving the planet with 51% of our net profits and we also feel as strongly about Canada not lying to itself or acting in dangerous or unsustainable ways. Please read below about how your recycling is probably not being recycling properly or at all in some cases:

You feel good about recycling, but here in Canada, think again…

Of course you feel good recycling. It is a very important act that we ALL must take part in every single day. Sadly, the reality is that your recycling is still polluting the environment in ways that will shock you! How can that be? It has been discovered that Canada has been dumping its recycling onto China (until 2018 when China finally said “Enough!”). When China decided it would no longer take Canada’s recycling (and some of its trash), other Asian nations have been stepping up to fill the void.

However, we are now learning that China (and other nations) don’t actually recycle our materials much at all. No! Instead they take the metals and other re-usable materials and then burn the rest. As we already know – burning trash and/or burning recycling is one of the worst things you do in terms of releasing pollutants into the atmosphere. You see, what once could be sold for profit (e.g. bounded plastics) now costs money to haul away, and the notion that Canadians are saving the planet by putting things in a blue bin is proving to be a delusion and a lie. That is except B.C., which is leading the way towards a truly more intelligent and honest system (more on this later in the article). The rest of Canada is living a lie and a destructive one at that. Moreover, politicians from P.E.I. to Alberta seem to be unable or unwilling to address it.

As the Global News 3-part series points out:

In a months-long investigation, Global News spoke with dozens of communities, companies and industry leaders across the country about the mounting challenges faced by Canada’s recycling industry. The result is dire: with few exceptions, more recycling is being sent to landfill, fewer items are being accepted in the blue bin and the financial toll of running these programs has become a burden for some municipalities.”

How can this be? Why is it that we can no longer trust our so-called “recycling programs”? Here are the key reasons:

  1. Canada has treated China and the Asian nations as a “drug” that has traditionally taken care of junk for us.
  2. Once commodity prices dropped, the “drug” wore off and Canada is left with an abysmal recycling system.
  3. What is much worse – Canada does not seem to be treating recycling as a “utility” like they do electricity or water use.

So why don’t we simply recycle our OWN plastics, paper and other materials? The actual reason for that simple. As stated above, Canada simply refuses to treat recycling as a utility, and instead allows the “market” to handle the problem. Here is the reality however, the market cannot handle the problem alone, just as the market is inappropriate in dealing with water and power/electricity. That is why we have public utilities. Modern society decided long ago that it was untenable and unsustainable to use the “market” for things such as key public matters. One cannot utilize a private market for distributing water, sewer services or power. So why then do we NOT treat recycling in this way?

The answer is more simple than you might think. Canada’s leaders are lying to the public about this matter and are very reticent to tackle this issue in any meaningful way. Costs in order to fully tackle this issue are astronomical, so when you say that you think Canada is a good, pro-environmental nation – THINK AGAIN! The fact is, we are only a net carbon absorbing nation due to our massive forests, but in reality, our urban centres are guilty of mass pollution and destruction to the environment as with most other mass urban locales. The ecological footprint of Canadian cities is little better than some of the worst offending cities and nations – except British Columbia and the Vancouver-metro region (see below).


*Image courtesy of Global News

British Columbia does what no other area of Canada will do

As stated above, B.C. however is moving in a better, more honest direction. Is this because B.C. is a far more environmentally conscious province? Is this because residents of B.C. won’t tolerate living a lie about recycling? We are of the opinion that both are true. What is even more interesting is that B.C. has taken a market-influenced approach that uses funds from those who MAKE products made with recyclables and plugs those funds into a larger “utility” that enables a truly smart approach to recycling.

According to Global News:

Anyone in B.C. who makes a product, sells a product or imports a product that’s collected in a blue bin has to pay to recycle its packaging. The province is the only jurisdiction in North America that is both funding and managing its entire recycling system — instead of leaving that responsibility to municipalities and their taxpayers.

The model is called “extended producer responsibility,” or EPR, and it’s regulated under a provincial law that came into force in B.C. in 2014.

The 3-part article goes on to say:

In this new recycling ecosystem, nearly 1,300 companies — including Apple Canada, Boston Pizza, Procter & Gamble and Loblaw — have come together to form a non-profit organization called Recycle BC, which carries out residential recycling in the province.

And the success is evident.

At 69 per cent, B.C.’s recycling rate is the highest recorded in the country. Recycle BC is accepting more items in its blue bins while other municipalities in Canada are cutting down, and it has dedicated plants that take products like shopping bags and berry and pastry containers, which recyclers in other parts of the country have stopped accepting or are paying to get rid of.

So, if you live in British Columbia, you can rest assured that your province is on the way to a more sustainable reality. If you live anywhere else in Canada, know that your province is not, and most likely is living a lie right before your very eyes.

What can you do about it? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Contact your local politician and complain LOUDLY.
  2. Write to your local newspaper or TV station and demand they address this issue often and loudly.
  3. Talk to your community and perhaps start an activist group that will put pressure on your local politicians to get with recycling in a serious and sustainable way.
  4. Lastly, vote GREEN. Ask any candidate for office what they plan to do about this. If they don’t have an answer, don’t do the polite Canadian thing by simply shaking your head. Instead, call them OUT, loudly and forcefully. If enough of us call a lie a lie, then perhaps the liars will have to clean up their act, or relinquish their position of power to someone who will actually give a damn!

Thank you for reading this important blog post and please SHARE THIS POST on social media. We need to tell all of Canada about this mess we have created so that maybe we can start fixing it before more damage is done

This blog article has been based on 3-part series by Global News (see part 1 at

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