Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Guest Post: How much are we wasting on waste?

Posted by auroracitizen on September 15, 2008

Thanks to Councillor Collins-Mrakas for the following Guest Post.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of the AURORA CITIZEN.

Why is it that everything you purchase today is encased in multiple layers of packaging? I don’t know about you, but in my humble opinion it shouldn’t require a blowtorch and an engineering degree to get a doll out of its wrapping! And you most definitely shouldn’t end up with a bag of garbage all for one ten inch high doll.

I understand that companies want to market their products in a certain way but it seems to me that they have little or no regard for the consequences of their packaging choices – and why should they? It is you and I – the customer – that pays the price for disposing of the packaging waste.

We learned environmental economics terms such as “full-cost accounting” and “cradle-to-grave” product management more than fifteen years ago in undergrad studies. The question is why isn’t it applied??

In Europe – Germany in particular – and in Sweden there have been regulatory mechanisms in place for well over 2 decades that require manufacturers to take back the packaging within which their products are sold. That’s a great concept. I doubt we’d see toys and electronics and novelties wrapped up in elaborate packaging if manufacturers or retailers were responsible for its disposal.

As we approach another municipal budget season, we need to look at ways to trim costs and manage waste. Given that a goodly portion of our levy dollars goes towards waste management and given that a significant portion of our waste stream is due to packaging waste I think that it is high time that our federal government look at appropriate legislation to address this issue.

I’d like to hear your thoughts…

Alison Collins-Mrakas
Councillor, Town of Aurora

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7 Responses to “Guest Post: How much are we wasting on waste?”

  1. Eric McCartney said

    I agree with all posts but one should point out that a lot of smaller items are encased in these large clear plastic packages surrounding the item to deter shoplifting.

    Eric McCartney

  2. Grace Marsh said

    Yesterday I had to put a new cartridge in my printer and nearly injured myself trying to get it out of it’s package. The cartridge head itself was protected by a plastic cap, those pieces were inside an air tight plastic bag, the bag was inside a carboard box and the cardboard boxes (becuase everything is sold in multiples today), were inside one of those darn sealed large plastic packages that you need a tool resembling a box cutter just to get into. Ridiculous. One wonders if the price of many items could come down if there wasn’t so much packaging. You go Alison!

  3. Eric McCartney said

    Thanks R&J, Aurora also needs people like the both of you. I don't plan on moving anytime soon and hope you both don't as well but if you do???? http://www.McCartney.me

  4. R&J said

    Eric, Eric, our town needs you! We agree with you totally.

  5. Eric McCartney said

    A number of the fortune 500 companies over the last ten years, have re-thought and reduced a large amount of the packaging they use. Consumers need to contact those companies by e-mail or phone to voice their opinions. You could also e-mail the company a link to this blog.

    A lot of the packaging is used to protect the product during transport. As we all know, most of the products are no longer produced in Canada. So the probility is high that the product will be moved numerous times before the product actually reaches the consumer.

    I’m sure everyone would like to see manufactures come up with some sort of biodegradable cushioning (POP CORN) instead of styrofoam. You know what I mean if you live in Aurora on garbage day.

    What really annoys me is the packing that is so difficult to open that if not opened correctly you can damage the product. Or the products you cannot find the begining tape to open. Example: Music CD’s. Or the products that are encased in clear plastic that you cut yourself when opening the package. But that’s for another blog.

  6. Geoffrey Dawe said

    Councillor Collins-Mrakas comments are spot on.

    Purchasing products with minimal packaging is one answer.

    Advising companies with excessive packaging that you will not purchase their product due to excessive packaging is another.

    Every little bit helps

  7. Heather Sisman said

    Have you ever bought a tube of mascara at Costco? The price is definitely right (I think it was about $8, vs $20 at the drug store), but the single tube was packaged in hard plastic so that the entire package was about 12″ x 12″. Needless to say I left the bargain on the shelf.

    Sometimes though, I get bitten by the ‘gotta have it’ bug. I’m a Mom, and I give in to the pressure every once in a while!. Toys R Us will take back the packaging right at the cash. Other stores refuse.

    I agree, I think we should follow Germany’s lead and hold the manufacturers responsible for the waste they’re producing.

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