Why is black plastic is not recycled in Canada?

Remember that black plastic takeaway container you used at lunchtime? If you are in Canada, chances are it won’t be recycled. Most of the plastic in Canada is sorted by optical scanners. Black plastic does not reflect light so cannot be sorted by the scanners. Some citizens have stopped putting it in recycling bins, while some restaurants have swapped to another plastic colour. Unlike other plastics, the market for black plastic is quite small, it's very expensive to sort with no difference or additional profit.

The issue with black plastic

Black plastic cannot be changed to another colour - it only goes back to black plastic. Whereas clear plastics are highly valuable and can fit the branding requirements of companies.


Technologies cannot detect black plastic

Toronto’s recycling facilities rely on optical sorting technology which cannot distinguish black plastic from the rest. While this technology works extremely well with traditional plastic, black plastic is invisible on the conveyer belt.

Black plastic needs to go in the garbage bin - not recycling bin

People who put black plastic in their recycling bin, risk contamination at the recycling centres. Jim McKay, the city's general manager of solid waste management services says the city’s contamination rates have increased by 25%.

But many people believe they are doing the correct thing, especially when labelling is confusing and misleading. The black plastic has a small recycling symbol on it, which triggers many to think that it should be recycled. However, this plastic should always go in the garbage bin.