Packaging practices also need to change

Some major changes are coming next month for the way South Okanagan residents dispose of their garbage and recyclables. While there may be some initial grumbling about the changes, there is no doubt residents will pitch in to do their part for the environment.

Some major changes are coming next month for the way South Okanagan residents dispose of their garbage and recyclables. While there may be some initial grumbling about the changes, there is no doubt residents will pitch in to do their part for the environment.

But since the beginning of the Blue Box program, the onus has been on consumers to recycle. Whether that meant filling up your bin every other week with unwanted paper and cardboard, cans and glass, or taking items to the landfill or  recycling depots for appropriate disposal, industry was largely off the hook for its part in the creation of excess.

With the province’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 long been a problem.

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. Better still, why not have the government create financial incentives for companies that go the extra mile, or for innovative and entrepreneurial alternatives to the status quo?

Regardless what form this industry-led system takes, the public won’t be completely off the hook. We’ll have to keep up our habit of separating materials for recycling. Getting help from industry can only help speed up the process of slowing down our environmental impact.

– Victoria News