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SWANA Issues Canadian Recycling Myths vs Facts Sheet

Jun. 5, 2019

Association urges the media to provide accurate information about the state of recycling in Canada

In response to misleading and confusing information reported about the state of recycling in Canada, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has developed a flyer that provides current and accurate data on this important topic.

The challenges facing Canadian recycling increased when China imposed restrictions on the import of recovered plastics and paper in 2018. These restrictions have highlighted areas for improvement but have not changed the importance of recycling in Canada. Unfortunately, misinformed stories about the futility of recycling have been published, leading to unnecessary confusion. SWANA’s “Recycling: Myths vs. Facts” flyer addresses some of the common misconceptions, including that recycling is “failing” or “collapsing” and that it isn’t worth the effort anymore.

According to David Biderman, SWANA CEO and Executive Director, “there are abundant reasons to be optimistic about the future of recycling in Canada. Additional domestic processing capacity is coming on line over the next few years in North America that will help correct the current imbalance between supply and demand for recovered paper and plastic. Also, many communities are focused on reducing contamination and recycling facilities are upgrading their equipment and slowing down their lines to produce higher quality material.”

The flyer addresses one of the most persistent myths surrounding recycling, which is that no one knows how to address the challenges that the industry is currently facing. SWANA wants to make it clear that although it’s not simple, solutions are being implemented. Public education and enforcement of local rules motivate people to recycle right. Recycling facilities are embracing new technologies such as robotics to keep up with changing market requirements and material streams. New facilities are opening and existing ones are expanding, providing more demand for recyclables. Organizations are considering redesign, reuse and repair to address hard-to recycle items.

“Although the recycling industry is currently having some difficulties marketing some of their materials, the industry isn’t broken,” says Art Mercer, SWANA’s Incoming International Secretary. “Materials are recycled into new products and this has many benefits, such as energy and resource conservation. Just because it is temporarily difficult to market some of the items, this is no reason to stop recycling and throw these items away, often filling up landfills. Also, we need to remember that we all have a responsibility to reduce the items we buy and throw away. Recycling is not the only solution.”

SWANA previously developed a similar flyer focused on recycling in the United States, which is available as part of a downloadable Recycling Media Kit. This flyer made it clear to the public what is happening in the industry and gave reporters a fact sheet to check their stories. SWANA wants to spread awareness of what is happening in the recycling industry in a way that everyone can understand. Because of this, SWANA encourages media representatives to reach out with any questions they have.

Please contact SWANA’s subject matter experts on all things recycling:

David Biderman
Executive Director and CEO

Jesse Maxwell
Manager of Advocacy and Safety

Download Recycling Media Kit.

For more information on SWANA, visit



The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 50 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications, and a large offering of technical training courses. Follow on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Sarah Beidleman, Marketing Coordinator

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