Food In Canada

Asked and answered

By Food in Canada Staff   

Packaging Sustainability circular economy Plastics recycling

Ontario’s EFS-plastics is a leading player in the plastics recycling industry. Hendrik Dullinger, the company’s vice president of business development, talks about how to survive, and what it takes to thrive.

Q: Tell us a little bit about EFS-plastics
A: EFS-plastics is an Ontario-based plastics recycler that processes over 100 million pounds of post-consumer plastics every year. Our headquarters is in Listowel, Ont., and specializes in mixed rigid plastics processing.
We also run a U.S. plant in Hazleton, Pa., which specializes in flexible plastics. Our latest expansion brought us to Lethbridge, Alta., where we will start to produce high-quality resins for packaging applications in January 2025. This will be the first plant to produce a food grade PET product as well.

Q: Where do you source your materials?
A: We work directly with municipalities and waste management companies. Once the transition to EPR will be completed in Ontario by 2026 and Alberta in 2025, we will be working directly with the producers and producer responsibility organizations to process their materials. We hope to gain long-term supply agreements from this change that would guarantee us consistent supply and enable us to engineer our resins to the spec of the producer.

Q: What gets impacted in the process when using PCR?
A: Let me start by stating, that the latest studies from renowned environmental firms show that PCR from mechanical recycling has a far lower environmental footprint than any other competing technology currently available in the market. We are talking about a GHG emission saving of up to 50 per cent compared to chemical recycled resins and 70 per cent compared to virgin plastics. For this reason, mechanical recycled resin should be preferred over other recycled resins if suited for the product application.
We understand that our PCR has limitations in certain applications and most of our customers have a low tolerance for specs and gels, thus we are investing heavily in advanced sortation, washing, and extrusion. The industry is quite evolving, and we are seeing great success with high incorporating rates with those customers that invested in PCR by updating their conversion equipment.


Q: Where do you see demand coming from?
A: Recycled content legislation and EPR remain the main drivers for demand. We have very strong sales in the regulated market. However, since the 2025 voluntary brand goals are in sight, we saw a lot more traction in the first quarter of 2024. This traction is coming from brands as well as converters.

Q: How is recycling technology changing over time?
A: As every player in this industry understands quality concerns and market needs better and better, we are seeing improvements and innovation for every component of our process. Machinery that was state-of-the-art 10 years ago will most likely not meet the current standards anymore.

Q: Are investments in the latest technology necessary to remain competitive, or does older recycling equipment remain useful?
A: Yes, but there’s a catch. Recyclers need commitments on both ends of the supply chain to make the necessary investments. Long-term consistent supply and a set of consistent buyers would greatly de-risk these multimillion-dollar projects.
In some cases, old equipment can be retrofitted or refurbished, which makes those investments less expensive. At EFS-plastics, we try to reuse or repurpose as much of our old equipment as possible.

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