Since the beginning of the Blue Box program, the onus has been on consumers to recycle.
Whether that meant filling up a bin every other week with unwanted paper and cardboard, cans and glass, or taking items to the landfill for appropriate disposal, industry has been largely off the hook for its part in the creation of excess.
With the provincial government’s move to eventually force industry to plan for the end use of its products and packaging materials, it may force companies to change the way they market and distribute their goods.
Packaging is created as much to enhance visibility in retail stores as for practical purposes. But overpackaging, particularly with small items that get hung on racks, has been a problem for years. Getting rid of the cardboard part is easy, but how many people take the time to properly dispose of the plastic?
Putting the onus on producers to change the way they present products will no doubt require a major sea change. Many of our fancily packaged goods come from companies that chose a long time ago to cut costs by moving production facilities to Asia.
Nonetheless, the time is coming for manufacturers and retailers to take responsibility for what they put into the environment and think seriously about where their products will end up.
It’s time for some innovative packaging ideas to come to the forefront. Better still, why not have the government create financial incentives for companies that go the extra mile, or for innovative alternatives to the status quo?
We can’t grumble when any extra costs related to packaging or packing products differently are passed along to the end user. Since we’re all part of the problem, we need to look at it as a consumer tax of sorts.
Regardless what form this industry-led system takes, we’ll still have to keep up our habit of separating materials for recycling.
Getting help in that regard from industry can only help speed up the process of slowing down our environmental impact.