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MARCH 9TH 2012 

Why do we buy stuff that can’t be recycled?

There was a bit of a flap this week in Toronto when it was revealed that up to 20% of the debris put in the recycling stream actually ends up in landfill because it can’t actually be recycled. While some of the debris isn’t surprising—propane cylinders for example—the biggest culprit is clear plastic food packaging, especially the “clam shell” type. While they’re working on it, we got to thinking. Why do we buy products in that packaging? You can almost always work around it, but we don’t seem to.

There are 2 ways to prod us into action. First, what if government simply made it illegal to sell products in packaging that can’t be recycled. That’d work, but governments are a little preoccupied at the moment with bigger economic issues. So what if a food company or a retailer said “We simply will not make or sell a product in packaging that can’t be recycled”? We know product integrity is critical, and packaging has protect it, but surely the technology exists today to do that and be recyclable. We’d change our shopping habits to support the company who does this. Would you?



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  • Aubferg

    I’m all for change our shopping habits to support the providers/companies that are trying to be more sustainable.

    Regrettably, it is impractical to attempt to use laws to define what is recyclable because the laws would need to be enacted on a national or international scale because of the way our products are sourced (we are a trading nation, after all); and recycling is operated on a regional basis. For example, what can be recycled by the municipal waste disposal site varies from Peel to the municipality next door, Halton…can you imagine the complexity for manufacturers and distributors across all of the communities in Canada?

  • Judi

    Germany has cradle to grave law to make every single manufacturer responsible for their own product and package recycling. Guess what? They re-tooled to downscale what they use and presto: hardly any packaging anymore. Regulations and laws do work, and sadly we humans need to be compelled to act responsibly sometimes.

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