Regarding the March 20 [Page 18] article, ``Spending cuts encumber Canadian recycling'': Do spending cuts, brought about by government fiscal restraint, really encumber Canadian recycling? The national task already has been defined and agreed to under the National Packaging Protocol (NAPP). The federal government recognizes that implementation is the prerogative and responsibility of provincial and municipal authorities.
These factors should cause more efficient focusing on the defined task by the accountable parties. This task now is not to attempt to recycle all discarded packaging, just to meet the NAPP goals.
While there may be various approaches in each region in Canada to reach the national goal, the Canadian Industry Packaging Stewardship Initiative acknowledges regional diversity. ENCORP, owned by CIPSI leaders (soft drink producers/retail grocers) recently purchased Containaway to manage the Alberta govern-ment's 220 deposit/refund depots. ENCORP also is setting up as many as 200 such depots in British Columbia. Similar activity is reported in Atlantic Canada. This is a dramatic switch from CIPSI's original proposal to provinces to ``go blue box [curbside] and withdraw the deposit/refund system, or else receive no funds from CIPSI.''
CIPSI has defined the basic decision makers regarding product packaging selection and use-brand owners, retailers and consumers. It recognizes that voluntaryism as practiced by OMMRI/CSQ in Ontario/Quebec does not work.
In Canada, provincial pre-election jitters are rampant, and jobs and fiscal restraint are the hot topics. Environmental issues appear lower on the scale. The first provincial party that identifies a highly popular initiative that will address all of these hot topics at minimal cost could pick up a lot of goodwill (read votes). The expanded deposit/refund is such an initiative in environmentally conscious British Columbia. Alberta's effective depot system is using pilot studies on collecting oil containers, while in British Columbia, a user-pay depot is used for tires, batteries, oil and paint.
The impact of cyclical price swings for packaging materials demonstrates there is no lack of technically suitable markets for quality recyclate. Sustainability and conservation require responsible, focused and phased-in post-consumer-content regulation. Remember when there was a continuous glut of cellulose? Now the paper industry guarantees buybacks. Perhaps the plastic industry also should recognize today's realities.
We all know the consumer finally pays, but as has been demonstrated, particularly in Ontario, it has been the general taxpayer through provincial/municipal taxes. This was the rationale behind the CIPSI concept, which was developed by the Soft Drink Association and Retail Grocers as a potential solution to a predominately Ontario/Quebec problem. Is it surprising that CIPSI's answer has not been accepted by the rest of Canada, let alone Ontario or Quebec? Who knows, we may well have the blue box or curbside recycling in cities that so chose to allocate their tax dollars, and deposit/refund systems where user-pay mentality predominates.
Ultimately, the best solution is reduce, reuse and recycle. Source reduction and the use of common materials - especially in plastics - would make recycling much more effective. Difficulties in dealing with development costs, highly recognizable packaging, etc., make this ultimate step the most difficult. Meanwhile, let's address this issue through expanded deposit/refund systems (providing the ``push'') and legislated recycled content (the ``pull'').
Central Coast Consulting
Merritt, British Columbia