The solution to global plastic pollution is right here in Canada
Emmie Leung, Chief Executive Officer of Emterra Group and ReVital Polymers Inc. is pictured with a member of the engineering team on a sort line at ReVital Polymers. ReVital is the first facility in Canada, and one of the newest and most advanced recovery facilities in North America, that combines a Container Recovery Facility (CRF) and a Plastics Recovery Facility (PRF) in one location.
A newly formed, plastics recycling consortium with nearly 75 years of combined experience recovering, processing and marketing waste resource materials says that the solution to the alarming problem of global plastics pollution can be found right here in Canada.
Canadian plastics recycling veterans and entrepreneurs Tony Moucachen and Emmie Leung have combined the significant market presence of their three extended plastics processing and recycling companies, Merlin Plastics Group, ReVital Polymers, and Emterra Group, to launch North America’s largest plastics recycling consortium – Circular Polymers Group (CPG).
These companies currently operate 38 multi-materials handling and recycling facilities in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario as well as in Oregon, California and Michigan in the United States. In 2017, this group collected and recycled well over 136 million kilograms of plastics from residential curbside recycling systems, beverage container deposit-return systems and the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional sectors across Canada and the USA.
This recycling activity is backed by $300 million of installed capital and supports 1,500 jobs that drive a growing circular economy for plastics.
“While each of our companies will continue to do business individually, we’ll be working synergistically to offer our customers the combined knowledge of 75 years of recycling expertise, state-of-the art technology, and solutions-oriented, strategic thinking. Circular Polymers Group is a consortium company that is truly greater than the sum of its parts,” Moucachen says.
CPG believes that with its 2018 presidency of the G7, Canada has the opportunity to lead global change on how plastics are valued, used, recovered, reused and recycled.
“Canada has the knowledge and the tools to make change happen now,” Leung says. “As a starter, the Canadian government can assist developing countries in tailoring regulatory approaches that require consumer product companies to take responsibility for recycling their waste plastic packaging and products. It can assist in the transfer of Canadian technologies to collect, sort and recycle plastics. We have the best of the best recyclers right here in Canada. Implemented in developing countries, this combination of policies and best practice will dramatically reduce the eight million tonnes of plastics discharged to the world’s oceans every year.”
Under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), producers such as consumer product companies, whose products and packaging end up as waste, must ensure recycling of those wastes. In turn, the demand for more effective recycling technology drives the development of innovative plastics sorting, improves traditional mechanical processing, and supports emerging technologies like chemical recycling that converts plastic resins to original molecules. As a result, in provinces like British Columbia, a wide range of plastics are collected and recycled back into food and beverage packaging as well as non-food packaging, consumer goods and durable products such as automotive parts.
“We have created hundreds of recycling jobs just to address a tiny fraction of the available waste plastics in North America. We still have a long way to go towards zero plastic waste. British Columbia, Canada has the most effective EPR implementation in North America. Working with producers there, we have designed, built and operated efficient and innovative packaging collection, sorting and recycling systems and created new end markets for these recycled materials that have eliminated the need to export plastic waste for recycling. This is a tremendous resource for any government looking to achieve real change in diversion best practices,” Moucachen said.
Leung points out: “The bulk of the plastics entering the world’s oceans comes from a handful of countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Thailand and Malaysia. By adapting the regulatory model for EPR that is emerging in Canada, these countries could aggressively address the ocean plastic pollution problem, reduce greenhouse gases associated with plastic production and disposal and drive local economic development that converts plastic waste into circular economy jobs.”
About Circular Polymers Group
The principals of Circular Polymers Group are:
- Tony Moucachen, President of Merlin Plastics Group and ReVital Polymers Inc.
- Emmie Leung, Chief Executive Officer of Emterra Group and ReVital Polymers Inc.
Forty-two years ago, Emmie Leung, an immigrant woman from Hong Kong, established a fledgling company that grew to become Emterra Group. It was among the first businesses in North America dedicated to recovering resources from post-consumer products and packaging. www.emterra.ca
Tony Moucachen, a Lebanese immigrant, started Merlin Plastics Group a few years later. It is now one of the largest plastics recycling companies in North America supplying recycled plastics to multi-national producers of products and packaging. www.merlinplastics.com
Today, these affiliated companies, Emterra Group (headquartered in Burlington, Ontario), Merlin Plastics Group (headquartered in Delta, British Columbia) and ReVital Polymers Inc. (headquartered in Sarnia, Ontario), represent the entrepreneurial energies of two Canadians who saw waste materials differently – something to be recovered and used continuously in a circular economy. Together, they have been able to grow these resource recovery businesses into one of North America’s largest post-consumer plastics collection and recycling enterprises - a testament to Canada as an open society that fosters opportunity, inclusivity, and encourages technological innovation.