Solid Waste & Recycling

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Our Top Letters (July 01, 2006)

Dear Editor...


Dear Editor

Re. Glass recycling in Ontario (April/May 2006 edition)

Contrary to Atul Nanda’s assertion in Commodities Corner, OI Canada has not, “… chosen to narrow the proper definition of recycling in order to promote its own objectives.” In their seminal 2002 book entitled Cradle to Cradle — Remaking the Way We Make Things William McDonough and Michael Braungart coined the term “downcycling.” In a closed loop, glass can be recycled bottle-to-bottle endlessly. If color mixing and contaminating glass so its only uses are aggregate replacement, filter medium, road bed substrate or sand blasting media isn’t “downcycling” then what is?

In our March 6 2006 response to Stewardship Ontario we noted the use of recycled glass in fiberglass manufacturing as legitimate recycling and went on to note that the combined Ontario bottle-to-bottle and fiberglass recycling rate is only 30 per cent — a rate that the Glass Diversion Fund will do little or nothing to increase.

OI Canada has stated its objectives clearly: we want as much recyclable glass as we can get for the production of glass packaging. Clearly, both OI and the environment benefit from reducing energy use, reducing emissions and improving production efficiencies. Recognizing the benefits, we put our money where our mouth is; since 2003 through April 2006, O-I’s Ontario plants have spent over $19 million in cullet purchases sourced from Ontario, Quebec and the U.S.

Finally, we believe the most cost-effective way of recovering recyclable glass for the production of glass packaging and fiberglass is a deposit-refund system for LCBO containers, something which may not sit well with Mr. Nanda as paid manager of Stewardship Ontario’s Glass Diversion Fund.

Paul J Smith Manager, Global Sourcing — Cullet OI

Dear Editor

Re: Editor’s Blog, April 11, 2006 “LCBO and wine company makes out like bandits”

You acknowledge the “long list of benefits” Tetra Pak cartons provide and correctly state their main environmental benefit relates to energy. But I wish to differ with you in that, although significant, the greatest amount of energy saved is not in avoiding refrigeration, but in transportation and distribution, which along with other reasons makes them a very sensible package for wine.

I’m sure you already know the fuel and emissions story about the empty packs — that it takes only two semi’s to ship a million Tetra Pak cartons from the packaging plant to the customer compared to 52 trucks for a million empty bottles or cans. More fuel and emission savings are achieved with the light-weight filled packages.

To illustrate the point, the Globe and Mail and the National Post reported that Air Canada is currently checking out the feasibility of replacing glass bottles with cartons for wine because of the substantial savings ($250,000 yearly) in fuel costs that this switch will bring across the airline.

You say aseptic cartons are expensive to recycle and that many municipalities do not collect them. In truth, many do; the WDO Datacall shows close to 80 per cent of Ontario households have access to recycling them. And depending on how you measure, they’re actually much cheaper to recycle than glass bottles. While per tonne costs to recycle aseptic packages are higher than glass ($809.74 vs $161.68 according to Stewardship Ontario), per package costs are many times lower because there are so many more aseptic packages in one tonne than there are glass bottles. For instance, comparing 1-litre (40 g) cartons against 1-litre (600 g+) glass, the per tonne difference is 25,000 cartons vs 1,666 glass bottles, translating to a per pack cost of 0.03 cents for the carton and 0.1 cents for the bottle.

Concerning your desire for third-party scientific back-up for Tetra Pak’s environmental claims — this is available. Several independent LCA studies have been done during recent years, particularly in Europe. One of the most recent was conducted by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) comparing the environmental performance of the most common non-refillable food and beverage packages on the German market with refillable glass bottles. Results show that the overall environmental performance of beverage cartons are on par with refillable bottles, which has given Tetra Pak and other beverage cartons the same distinction as refillable glass bottles being classified as “environmentally advantageous” in the German Packaging Waste Ordinance.

Another main advantage of beverage cartons is their high paper content. On average, Tetra Pak cartons are 75 per cent paperboard, which comes from trees, a renewable resource.

Jaan Koel Communications and Environmental Affairs Manager Tetra Pak Canada Inc.

[Editor’s Note: If you send me the German LCA study I’ll post it on our website, preferably as a downloadable pdf file. This kind of technical discussion is what our magazine hopes to stimulate. Again, I have nothing against Tetra Paks and your points are well taken. I think Ontario’s LCBO should be distributed that kind of information to municipalities and recycling professionals, too, because its public relations campaigns directed to consumers aren’t effective in this regard. — ed.]

Send your “letters to the editor” to gcrittenden@solidwastemag.com


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