Is Recycling Always the Best Option ?

Posted by heather on Thu 24 Jan 08 at 4:04pm

Reuse makes sense - but not to everyone.
The owner of a small business selling speciality beers online thought he'd come up with a great idea. Sending bottles by courier meant they needed to be well padded. Wrapping cardboard round each bottle before packing them into a sturdy cardboard outer case worked perfectly. He bought the cardboard 'outers' but collected used boxes from local shops to cut into strips to wrap the bottles. The shops were delighted, it saved them the hassle of disposing of boxes and they felt they were 'doing their bit' for the environment by having the cardboard reused. Environmental Health didn't agree - they said the beer seller needed a waste disposal licence to collect the once used boxes.

Glass jars and bottles have to be sterilised before filling with product. Many small preserve sellers at Farmers Markets encourage their customers to bring back jars for refilling, they happily wash, sterlise etc. and they often knock a few pence off against the purchase of a new jar to encourage returns. Jars are expensive so it benefits everyone. Could big producers get involved in a similar way? Once upon a time everyone brought empty fizzy drink bottles back to the shop for a few pence. Recycling takes energy and resource, sending the used glassware back to large producers by the same route their goods are delivered and incentivising the consumer with a small cash back could reduce some of the recycling mountain.

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