Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No free ride in the Blue Box

Our province was the first in North America to require beverage producers to take back their empties for cash refunds. It's a great system that has been getting containers off the roadsides and into recycling for almost 40 years.

Ten years ago we expanded the system so that more beverage containers would be worth money-back at a store or depot. All beverages except milk have refundable containers. That put literally billions of nickels into the hands of entrepreneurial recyclers.

But in between, we introduced "Blue Box" recycling.

It's a little-known fact that this recycling system was proposed by the Ontario soft drink industry. It was a successful ploy to get out of paying out deposits on their empties in Canada's largest province (Ontario and neighbouring Manitoba are the only Canadian provinces without deposits on beverage containers).

Under the Blue Box recycling system, empties are collected at significant cost to the public. Containers are the only thing that loses money in our recycling system. Not only are the container materials of very little value ~ they break and leak and ruin the other materials.

But here in BC we have two recycling systems in competition to one another.

The Blue Box trucks are competing against the Little League teams and entrepreneurial binners for the deposit money that was paid out on the containers. And more often than not, they're winning.

The beverage industry is laughing all the way to the bank as refundable containers are smashed in recycling trucks, and the unclaimed nickels and dimes remain with the industry instead of helping with the recycling.

Brazenly, the company the industry established to manage the bottle return program is now encouraging consumers to use their Blue Boxes instead of returning empties for refunds. Write them a note telling them to stop asking for a free ride in a Blue Box.

As long as they keep this up, your taxes go up and recycling goes down.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Helen. I notice Encorp also launched a 12-month pilot to collect beverage containers from apartment and condo buildings in Richmond.

I wonder if they intend to pay back the deposits to the buildings, or if that's included in the $200 fee (or is it $100?) Encorp is going to pay building managers?