Halifax dumping 75 tonnes of ‘unusable’ film plastic in another province’s landfill

Plastic shopping bags pictured in Halifax on Dec. 7, 2017. Steve Silva / Global News

Roughly 75 tonnes of film plastic collected in Halifax to be recycled will now be heading to a landfill in another province that the municipal government won’t disclose.

The figure is a portion of the 300 tonnes that has been stored for months but is now so degraded the materials are unrecyclable.

The municipality would be able to dump the plastic for a cheaper price at the Green For Life (GFL) landfill in West Hants, N.S., but the provincial government has yet to approve the application asking for permission.

The application was submitted last year.

“We don’t want other recyclers to know where we’re moving our material for possibly they can get a better deal than us or they can undercut our price, or lots of reasons,” Matt Keliher, Halifax’s solid waste manager, said in Dartmouth on Wednesday.

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“At this point, we’re not revealing where that material is being moved to, it’s just being moved outside of Nova Scotia where it’s permitted to be put into a landfill.”

READ MORE: Company asks Nova Scotia for permission to put plastic bags in landfill

The film plastic, which includes shopping bags and food wrap, has to be disposed of so that the municipality can “continue to process all the materials that arrive at [the] facility every day.”

When more space is needed, more film will be sent to the undisclosed province to be disposed of, and that’s coming with an extra cost.

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The cost of doing business

The municipality is now paying to have all of its recyclable film plastic processed.

The recycling troubles stem from China’s new import ban on certain wastes, something which is affecting many other communities in North America.

In the last fiscal year, $1,660,000 of the $2,166,000 in Halifax’s recycling revenues came from selling materials to China.

Now, the government expects little, if any future money, to come from China.

WATCH: Plastic bags may soon end up in Nova Scotia landfill

Click to play video: 'Plastic bags may soon end up in Nova Scotia landfill'
Plastic bags may soon end up in Nova Scotia landfill

Nova Scotia’s regulations don’t currently allow film plastic to be dumped in landfills.

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Dumping the material in the municipality’s Otter Lake Waste Facility would cost Halifax about $125 per tonne, though no request has been made for that, Keliher said.

Dumping the material in GFL’s landfill would cost about $100 per tonne.

“It’s more expensive to export this material to the other province,” Keliher, who wouldn’t disclose that specific cost, said.

“It’s better economically for HRM, and environmentally, to landfill it in Nova Scotia than it is to transport it to another province, and the greenhouse, the gas carbon emissions, and then the additional cost to export it is not in the best value of taxpayers.”

He said Miller Water Systems requested permission to put the film in a landfill last August but the company was told GFL had to. GFL made the request a month or two later. Keliher asked about the request from the provincial government in early December.

“The department will be making a decision early in the new year,” Chrissy Matheson, a provincial government spokesperson, said in an email in November.

Representatives from Nova Scotia districts, including a local councillor, will meet with the province’s minister of environment next week at Halifax City Hall.

According to Keliher, the landfill request, China’s import changes, among other topics, will all be discussed.


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