Sunday, February 11, 2007

Be a Responsible Lush.

Earlier this week, the Ontario government started a program by which wine bottles (and boxes) and "spirit containers" could be returned for a refund on a small deposit. Since Christine hardly goes a week without visiting a liquor store, we already have our blue bag. ;-)

I include the list of environmental benefits below, and you can reach the main index by clicking on the pic above.

The 80 million containers we'll collect each year under the new system will be cleaner and colour separated. The Ontario Deposit Return Program will ensure that more glass will be recycled into high value products (bottles or fibreglass) rather than used as road aggregate or landfilled due to contamination.

The new program's deposit incentive will also enhance the Blue Box by increasing the number of containers that are recycled, including about 25,000 to 30,000 additional tonnes of glass from landfill annually — the equivalent of about 80 million bottles. This represents a 32 to 38 per cent increase over the approximately 78,000 tonnes of wine, beer and spirit containers currently being recycled through the Blue Box program and by licensed restaurants and bars.

We will also build on the success of Ontario's renowned Blue Box system by:

  • Freeing up space in the Blue Box giving municipalities room to expand their recycling programs

  • Making for fewer and lighter walks to the curb

Myth Busters:

Myth #1
The new Deposit Return program looks like an attempt by the Ontario government to introduce a tax on wine and spirits.

It’s not. The deposit you’ll pay on wine and spirit containers at the LCBO starting February 5 is not a tax, it’s a deposit which will be fully refunded to you once you
return your empties to The Beer Store.

With Deposit Return, every Ontarian can help the environment by reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills. The deposit return program will actually divert the equivalent of about 80 million more bottles than are currently being diverted.

Better yet, the program will ensure that more glass will be recycled into high-value products (bottles or fibreglass) rather than be used as road aggregate or sent to landfills due to contamination.

Myth #2
The Blue Box isn’t doing the job it was intended to do.

To the contrary, Ontario’s Blue Box program is very successful. In fact, today, 25 years after it was introduced, it is acclaimed the world over as one of the most
recognizable symbols of environmental responsibility. Thanks to the Blue Box, we’ve made exceptional progress in diverting our waste in this province and millions of Ontarians have changed their views and -- more important -- their habits with respect to environmental stewardship.

In 2005, the Blue Box program diverted more than 860,000 tonnes of residential
Blue Box materials – a 4.5 per cent increase over 2004. Deposit Return will enhance the Blue Box program, help to increase the number of wine and spirit containers that are recycled, and free up space in Blue Boxes, allowing municipalities to expand recycling programs.

Myth #3
The government stands to make a fortune from deposits that are never redeemed by customers.

Deposits that are left un-claimed by customers will be put right back into financing the Deposit Return program -- it’s that simple. However, the purpose and the mandate of Deposit Return is to help the environment so we strongly encourage consumers to return their empties. They will be helping to keep containers out of landfills.

Myth #4
Deposit return won’t make much difference to the province’s waste diversion efforts.

In fact, Deposit Return will significantly increase the amount of wine and spirit containers that are recycled in Ontario. It will divert an additional 80 million
bottles, or 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes of glass, from landfill annually. This represents about 32 to 38 percent increase over the approximately 78,000 tonnes of wine and spirit containers currently being recycled through the Blue Box program and by licensed restaurants and bars.

The Blue Box currently recovers 68 per cent of LCBO containers and most are being recycled into a variety of uses. The goal, however, is to recycle at least 85 per cent of wine and spirit containers into high-end products.

Furthermore, putting a value on wine and spirit containers will encourage recycling in licensed establishments.

Speaking of recycling boxes and trips to the curb (I have to admit that I got a bit of a chuckle from that part of the "benefits", Mrs THIT has long been a believer in a green box to match our blue and black.

Well, it slipped by me, but it seems it was announced that Ottawa would be getting it later this year. From the Ottawa Sun:

Next year, the city will introduce a green box organic recycling program with an ambitious goal -- to increase the rate of recycled trash from 33% to 60%.

“That’s what this is all about -- changing habits and understanding the effect of garbage and landfill and environmental protection and the fact that we don’t have unlimited resources ... We need to rethink the whole notion of garbage,” said Ken Brothers, director of utility services at the City of Ottawa.

City staff are now drafting the specs for the composting plant that would turn food scraps, kitty litter and sawdust into composting material ready for the market.

While supplying green boxes to 300,000 households comes with a $10-million price tag, Brothers said the final cost of the project will depend on details yet to be finalized, including a possible public-private partnership.

Municipalities can’t achieve targets of 60% waste diversion without an organic waste recycling program, he said.

Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen calls the current rates of recycling “pretty good,” but says the city’s dumps have a short-term future and the solution isn’t building a new $100-million landfill.


An organic waste pilot program offered to more than 5,000 households in Ottawa achieved a 54% diversion rate after its first year.

Although the city only handles residential garbage, Brothers said the city is working with institutional, commercial and industrial sectors to tackle low recycling rates.

Currently, only 17% of industrial and commercial garbage is recycled and 70% of the 1.1 million tonnes of garbage in city landfills comes from the business sector.

Sharp. When considering the possibility of a massive change in public habit, recycling is one area that gives me confidence. It wasn't long ago that very few people recycled regularly. It wasn't long ago that there weren't recycling boxes next to the garbage cans in shopping mall food courts.

For something of a preview of how the green box program will work, check out this link. This has been going on in the Toronto area for a little while now, as far as I now, successfully.

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