Saturday, January 27, 2007

Give Us the Option To Buy Refillable Glass Bottles

Seventy percent of glass bottles that are put in recycling bins are sent to the dump. Part of the reason is preventable (like people trying to recycle bottles that have metal or plastic on them) and part is not (like current recycling technology just not dealing well with glass).

What we need is the option to buy refillable bottles for wine, pop and beer. A wine company might find that it's a competitive advantage to offer the refillable option. Companies like the Pop Shoppe were very successful in selling crates of 750-ml returnable pop bottles from Pop Shoppe bottling centers. We don't have to force every bottler to provide refillable bottles - we just need the option.

In Ontario, grocery stores used to have automated bottle return centers, where you put your bottles on a conveyor belt and the machine gave you a store credit. We had refillable bottles then because there was an Ontario law that forced bottlers to provide a percentage of their product in refillable bottles. All that ended when the government got a pay-off from bottling companies to allow them to sell 100% of their product in disposable (mostly plastic) bottles.

The environment is supposedly the number one political issue for Canadians today. Do we just care about the environment in the political arena, or are we willing to do something about it ourselves? Recycling is great, of course, but in some respects is a false fix. A lot of pollution and energy is used in recycling, and the main benefit (arguably) is reducing municipal waste management costs. In terms of real environmental progress, we need to start creating less waste - less garbage and less recycling.


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