Solid Waste & Recycling


Our Top Letters (April 01, 2006)

Dear Editor:...

Dear Editor:

Re: “Inside RabbitScam” editorial (February/March edition)

Something you said in your recent “Global Warming Update” blog (March 13) reminds me of your “Inside RabbitScam” editorial. In the former you pointed out, “…writers are taught that a ‘reversal of expectation’ makes for a better story. In newspaper journalism this is sometimes called the ‘man bites dog’ story, which every reporter loves.”

In your editorial piece, we seem to have a case of “man bites rabbit” — French Rabbit wine that is. Ouch!

I’d like to offer a reversal of my own. The LCBO has chosen to support a new consumer choice in wine packaging — the Tetra Pak carton — for a number of very good reasons. First and foremost, it does an outstanding job of protecting the delicate flavor and aroma of wine, which independent studies in Europe have documented. It is light weight and won’t break. It is opaque, eliminating the harmful effects of light. It is easy to carry, pour from, reseal, and store. It makes the safe enjoyment of wine possible in places you’d think twice about taking a glass bottle. Further, for manufacturers, it is extremely cost competitive, allowing significant savings, as in the case of French Rabbit, to be passed on to consumers.

On the environmental side, a one-litre carton is 15 to 20 times lighter and less massive than a one-litre glass bottle (40g vs 600g or more). This means less net landfill, even if the bottles were refilled — a positive move toward the province’s goal of 60 per cent reduction by 2008. It also reflects the fact that “reduce” is the first priority of the environmental 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Tetra Pak cartons are also recycled in Ontario and we expect that LCBO customers will continue to make use of their blue box for all types of wine packaging.

Your article criticizes the LCBO for wanting to save money, an estimated $500,000 in levies by moving to lighter packaging. Who in his or her right mind wouldn’t like to save money? In the case of the LCBO this is not about profiteering, since the money saved is money earned in the public purse. In the same vein, I read recently that Air Canada estimated it could save $275,000 per year if it got rid of all its glass bottles for wine on its flights. Seems like an idea worth pursuing.

Further, wine in Tetra Pak containers is by no means new. In 2004, producers in 36 countries and five continents produced over two billion units of wine in our cartons. Leading markets include Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and the USA. Soon, two new wine producers will be setting up Tetra Pak packaging operations in the Toronto area, creating new marketing opportunities and new jobs.

We’re very proud of the fact the LCBO and a growing number of its customers have recognized the benefits of wine in Tetra Pak cartons. We also feel good about the fact that there’s now a new consumer choice in wine packaging which, like saving money and saving waste, is certainly worthy of a toast!

Yours truly,

Jaan Koel

Communications and Environment Manager

Tetra Pak Canada Inc.

[Editor’s Reply: Jaan, what I like best about your letter is that you admit to actually reading my blog! Kidding aside, the target of my editorial is not Tetra Paks, per se. I am aware of, and normally supportive of, the various lifecycle benefits of aseptics for certain applications. To my mind, the main benefit is energy savings for juice and dairy drinks that would otherwise need to be refrigerated during transportation and storage. This is not required for wine, so that energy benefit is less apparent. It’s an old saw in recycling discussions that one “never criticizes the package” so I’ll refrain from doing so, but what still bothers me about the LCBO campaign is its “feel good” donations to the endangered shrike, which masks avoidance of a meaningful lifecycle analysis comparing not only weight but also raw material inputs, ease of recycling and embodied energy. Only a credible third-party LCA will convince me that Tetra Paks are more environmentally friendly than glass bottles for wine. And if such bottles were collected under deposit and as many of them as possible reused, I suspect the environmental economics would be hard to beat. Anyway, if you have such an LCA, I will report on it in this magazine and put it on our website for all to see. — ed.]

Dear Editor:

As a 25-year practitioner in the marketing field I’m compelled to write regarding the seeming misunderstanding of Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM), as illustrated by presentations I’ve attended over the past 5 years, at recycling industry gatherings and by the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the marketing in all jurisdictions.

Does getting people to eat a MacDonald’s Hamburger require a behavior change? Of course it does. You could have skipped the meal, eaten at home, brown bagged it, not to mention dined at countless other restaurant competitors. Whether it’s eating a fast-food hamburger, or participation in recycling, both activities are about changing or maintaining behavior. The fact is, all types of marketing has as its goal behavior change.

Does MacDonald’s operate with a different advertising theme for every restaurant? Of course they don’t. In fact, the new “Lovin’ It” campaign originated in Germany and is the first to be used world-wide, realizing amazing advertising efficiencies.

For the record, the common goal of marketing is the fulfillment of a “customers'” wants and/or needs at a profit. This is achieved via the manipulation of the 4 Ps of marketing. The first “p” is the product (or service itself). Most often research is used in product or service development including lots of probing about benefits for, as well as “barriers” to, the use of a new or existing product or service. For purpose of this discussion let’s imagine we’re talking about the provision of a recycling “service.”

The second “p” — price — would refer to whether the service is tax based, fee based or some combination. We know for example that PAYT pricing positively influences the use of a recycling service. The third “p” — place — would in our example refer to collection schedule. Or perhaps the service is depot based. The fourth and last “p” — promotion — sometimes called “advertising” (and still other times as “marketing”) refers properly to the message and media used to encourage use.

Social Marketing, was originated by Philip Kotler, a Harvard University Professor. (See reference at and more of Dr. Kotler at Dr. Kotler realized that the same 4 P marketing principles and research techniques that were used to sell products could be used to foster (i.e., “sell”) participation in positive social activities such as recycling. This is the first misunderstanding: that social marketing is somehow different from traditional product marketing. It’s the same!

Like product or service marketing, the focus is on the customer (i.e., residents) and on learning what benefits these people want and need, barriers to use, etc., then establishing pricing, deciding upon placement and (finally) developing promotional material.

Now on to the Community Based part. Here the premise is that the most effective communication (or promotion) is carried out at the local level with direct contact with the audience. This news will not come as a surprise to the Fuller Brush Company or more recently Avon who built enormous businesses on this model. However, it is financially unrealistic today as — simply put — no one’s at home.

More importantly, what CBSM does not entail is a different message in every community, only more local (i.e., community-based) execution; the same way your local MacDonald’s sponsors a kid’s baseball team. In fact, practitioners of C

BSM, myself included, lament the fact that multiple themes, slogan and other key messages are used to encourage identical activity, thereby diffusing their effectiveness.

It’s frustrating then, to see work being done with Stewardship Ontario E&E funds that is in fact encouraging inefficiency, by encouraging every municipality to create its own recycling messages. This, despite research preformed as part of this same project, that shows residents from across the province offer up the same reasons why they do (and do not) recycle (the same benefits and barriers). Why then should our messages be different? We’re wasting valuable time and money!

Rod Muir, Hons B. Comm, MBA, CAAP (Cert’d Advtg Agency Pract.)

Waste Diversion Campaigner

Sierra Club of Canada

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