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Region looking for ways to earn revenue from plastics

Durham’s works committee has voted for staff to negotiate a deal with Omachron Plastics Inc. to find opportunities to receive revenues from plastics.

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The region’s works committee has voted staff negotiate an agreement to begin a pilot project with Omachron Plastics Inc., pending council approval.

The pilot project would see the region and Omachron create opportunities for the use of the region’s recyclable materials. The overall objective is to develop uses for blue box plastics and single use plastics by creating new products.

According to the report given to the regions works committee, plastics recovered from the blue box can generate revenue for the region, but the market for many plastics has become “precarious.”

“Weak end markets for post-processing recyclable materials has been an issue facing municipalities for several years,” reads the report.

The report notes plastic revenues over the last 24 months have been inconsistent, ranging from $58 per tonne, to $170 per tonne, while averaging $98 per tonne.

In response to the weakened market, council previously passed a motion for staff to investigate business opportunities “to jump start the domestic processing of non-blue box plastics, and involve the plastics industry.”

Staff then looked for domestic companies which could use the plastic materials, and connected with Omachron out of Hampton, Ont.

“[Omachron’s] research and development work is able to make use of blue box plastics and could have potential to expand into the non-blue box material processing,” reads the report.

The report also notes the region is set to transition to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as early as 2023.

“Once EPR is fully in place, the region will no longer have control or ownership of blue box plastics and other recyclables. Regional staff will ensure that the agreement with Omachron does not impact the region’s ability to transition to EPR,” says the report.

However, EPR left one Oshawa representative concerned.

Ward 1 City and Regional Councillor John Neal says he believes there needs to be more of an investigation into the pilot project, prompting committee chair and Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell to ask if the agreement with Omachron could become problematic once the EPR moves forward.

“The agreement will be struck knowing the EPR is coming our way,” explains Commissioner of Works Susan Siopis. “We won’t put ourselves in a position to be having to supply materials beyond the commencement of EPR if, in fact, we don’t believe we can do so.”

She explains there will be “wording” in the contract with the company acknowledging it’s a “changing situation, but at the same time allows for the next three years to potentially bring some innovation in how plastics are used.”

Ultimately, Siopis says it is difficult to determine what lies ahead for the pilot, but she believes it is a “step in the right direction.”

With Neal the only opposing committee member, the pilot now heads to regional council for approval.