Brandon bans clamshell containers from its blue bins

By | July 11, 2019

The types of plastic containers that hold blueberries have been banned from Brandon’s blue bins. 

The City of Brandon announced Thursday that it will no longer be recycling #1 plastic food containers — also known as clamshell containers — which have hinged lids, clip at the front and are often used to hold fresh berries, greens and baked goods. 

It says Regina-based Crown Shred Recycling Management, which brings Brandon’s recycling to market, stopped accepting the containers, and the city’s material recovery facility doesn’t have space to store them.

So for now, they’re going to the landfill. 

A problem bigger than Brandon

“It is a North American-wide trend right now,” Mark Yeomans, Brandon’s director of public works, told CBC Radio Noon‘s Marjorie Dowhos.

“Everyone in the recycling business is having issues getting rid of clamshell, #1 recyclable materials, and it is just part of the depressed market in recycling right now.” 

Calgary has also struggled since 2018 to find a buyer for its clamshell containers, ever since China changed its recycling laws and stopped importing them. To adapt, Calgary spent $300,000 on semi-truck trailers to stockpile the containers until a new customer came along.

It’s still looking for a long-term solution. 

CBC News reached out to the City of Winnipeg for comment on how its dealing with clamshells, but it did not respond before deadline. 

Yeoman says the fact that clamshell containers are now trash is “extremely frustrating.”

“For this to happen is a hit,” he said.

“And it’s frustrating for the residents of Brandon and its frustrating for us as recyclers.”

With nowhere sustainable to send the newly-condemned containers, Yeoman said the best way to avoid sending them to the landfill is to buy items commonly held in clamshells in bulk and put them in paper bags. 

Clamshell containers are now destined to join a select group of trash that’s commonly mistaken for recyclables in Brandon. 

Electronics, construction materials, yard waste, styrofoam and black garbage bags often end up in Brandon’s recycling bins and can contaminate a whole batch of recycling, Yeoman said. 

“This is the only product we have trouble getting marketing for,” he said.

“All other recyclable goods that are taken in to our recycling program are being marketed and finding homes in the recycling industry.”

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