Malaysia says it will send back non-recyclable plastic waste to countries like Canada, the U.S., U.K. and Australia. (Vincent Thian/AP Photo)

Government rules needed to reduce waste, argues campaigner

Asian countries are getting angry about waste sent to them for recycling from Canada and other western countries.While they may have, in the past, agreed to recycle waste, the problem is that some of it is contaminated with non-recyclable substances and is no longer easy or cheap to process.

Canada’s environment minister says no permits have been issued for companies to send waste overseas since the government changed the rules in 2016 to prevent the practice. So, it’s not known how Canadian waste is still appearing in Asian nations. The Philippines is threatening to ship 69 containers of trash back to Canada no later than next week. And Malaysia wants Canada and other countries to take back their contaminated recyclables.

Canadians may dutifully put items in bins for recycling but environmentalists say much of it does not actually get recycled. (iStock)

Trash is difficult to trace, says waste campaigner

“One of the problems with waste is that it’s really hard to know where it’s come from,” says Emily Alfred a waste campaigner at the Toronto Environmental Alliance. She notes that Canadian cities and towns collect recyclables from homes and that they must follow rules set out by their provincial or territorial governments about where it all goes. But private companies like offices, factories and shopping malls have fewer requirements and less reporting to do about where trash is sent.

Canada is said to be one of the world’s biggest producers of trash. Canadians and people in many parts of the world have become increasingly reliant on single, disposable products, says Alfred. Companies are offering more products like plastic bags, containers for take-out foods and disposable coffee cups. And often the products contain two kinds of materials, like blister packs, that make them difficult to recycle.

British Columbia is said to have one of the most efficient recycling programs in Canada. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

Some provinces make or consider making producers responsible

“One of the problems with our recycling system in Canada and everywhere is that the companies that are making these packages aren’t necessarily thinking about what happens at the end of the life of those products,” says Alfred. “So, one way to solve it is to tell companies, ‘if you can’t recycle this and you can’t guarantee that it is recycled here in our country, you shouldn’t be allowed to sell it in our country.’”

Some of the provinces are passing producer responsibility regulations obliging companies to collect and make sure what they produce is recycled. One of them is British Columbia where the same recyclables are picked from every city and town by companies like Nestle, Pepsi and Unilever. And there are new recycling plants opening in that province to process them. Ontario and other provinces are considering following suit.

At the same time, some cities in Canada and the world are banning things like plastic bags, straws and coffee cups.

“There’s a lot of things we can do,” says Alfred. “And, as individuals we can make choices to reduce our waste. But it’s a lot easier if we use rules to level the playing field for everyone and then we all shift our behaviour a lot faster.”

Hear Emily Alfred tell why she thinks governments must set rules to reduce recyclable waste and to make companies to take responsibility for it.


(Toronto Environmental Alliance)

Categories: International, Society
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *