Sunday, February 11, 2007

Waste Not Want Not

In response to the Christina Bizzard article regarding liquor bottle deposits in todays Toronto Sun, I sent her this email:

You are perfectly correct in your tax grab assesment. This is environmental optics at it's best.

Is this a "return" or a "recyle" program?

I always though the purpose of the blue box was to "recycle" products of economic value. If aluminum, steel, glass, or plastic could be reused at a cheaper cost than obtaining the raw material.

The current BRI bottle program is "return" program that requires several components:

1. Centralized return facilities
2. High volume
3. A 2-way transportation system
4. Reprocessing (bottle cleaning & inspection) facilities at the production point.

The liquor bottle program appears to have been established with only step #1.

The sheer variety of spirit and wine bottles makes step #2 questionable.

Virtually all alcohol, especially the offshore brands, only ship one way.

Nobody in the alchohol production business is set up to handle bottle returns. While some of the larger companies may be able to consider new washing lines, the little wineries all over the world will not.

Alcohol is sold not directly to the LCBO by the producers, but generally through brokers, who negotiate pricing. Raise your price to cover return shipping and processing, and your product is no longer brokered.

So do we "return" liquor bottles so that the Beer Store "recycles" them?

How are they more efficient in this than the original blue box? I now have to return the bottles to the nearest Beer Store instead of the end of my driveway. That alone, in my rural experience, costs more than the deposit value. If you start taking recyclable product out of that program, you also reduce the economic value of what is left.

I await the introduction of the pop container "return" program. One that I would think holds far greater ecological and economic promise. Outside of downtown Toronto, I suspect the volume of soft drink containers far exceeds that of liquor bottles.

Brewers Retail must see they can make money on all the bottles will end up in the Blue Box as usual.

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