by Elaine Munro, Director Sustainable Operations
We’ve just completed our sixth annual “packaging materials” report. A mountain of details which gives pause for thinking about why we’re counting grams of plastic, paper and glass.
In sustainability circles, it’s referred to as EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and it represents companies taking responsibility for the garbage they create when their products are sold to consumers. Sometimes, it’s referred to as “closing the loop”. When you’re creating product, you also have to think about the impact it will have on waste and recycling when it’s finished being used or consumed.
For us, in the natural health products industry, packaging generally consists of plastic or glass containers, lids, product boxes, etc. that will be disposed of when the consumer has finished consuming.
Currently in Ontario (and soon in other provinces), the process of linking corporations to their product end-life responsibilities has been dealt with under the umbrella of Stewardship Ontario, responsible for the Blue Box program. As a registered steward, Progressive must report on the total number of units sold each year in Ontario and contribute a pro-rated amount into the Blue Box system.
In 2012, 1500 Ontario business stewards contributed more than $104.6 million to the provincial Blue Box program. This infusion of money allows the program to grow in its capacity to recycle more and more varieties of materials. Have you noticed the recent increase in the types of plastics now accepted in your Blue Box? The expanded service reflects the growing action and awareness of businesses “closing the loop” and being responsible for the end-life of their products.
The iconic Blue Box program began in 1981 and now reaches 95% of the 13 million people in Ontario. Last year, the program diverted 904,850 TONNES of recyclable materials from landfill. Let’s get a bit graphic here. What does 100,000 tonnes of recyclable material look like? That equals about 6.5 million laptops. So the total diverted Blue Box material in Ontario last year was the equivalent of 61.8 million laptops!
The very act of calculating your “unit sales recycling output” has its benefits of self- reflection. Why not track the correlation of increased sales with decreased packaging statistics! There’s nothing like a mega-spreadsheet to motivate more Go Green / Take Action initiatives!!
To learn more... www.stewardshipontario.ca?