5.03.2009

in which i learn that my recycling efforts are not as good as i thought

I've just discovered that plastic egg cartons are not recyclable.

I don't know why I didn't know that earlier, but I didn't. I once suspected it, as Peel Region's easy-to-use recycling guide didn't show egg cartons among the many recyclable plastics, but I didn't investigate, then forgot. This year's guide (here, pdf) lists egg cartons under no-nos.

Switching to eggs that come in old-fashioned cardboard containers is easy. And I'll tell Loblaws I'm doing so. They purport to be such a green company, let them put their eggs in cardboard.

But learning that clear-plastic egg cartons are not recyclable brings up a whole bunch of other disconcerting questions.

What about the clear plastic that organic lettuce comes in? The clear plastic salad containers when we are very busy and buy pre-made salads? Clear plastic containers that nuts come in? Clear plastic containers for grape tomatoes?

We buy a lot of these clear plastic containers, and we always throw them in recycling. All this time, they've been non-recyclable? This is a rude shock, as we take pride in our assiduous recycling, and in how little non-recyclable waste we put out each week. So much for that.

The organic lettuce is especially a problem. I know we could buy lettuce that doesn't come in a plastic container, but we're also making an effort to buy organic, plus buying lettuce that's already been cleaned helps us eat more salad.

But we can't keep using all this plastic if it's just going to landfill.

The Peel Region waste management website says:
The Government of Ontario has jurisdiction over packaging. The Region of Peel has passed Council resolutions requesting the Province of Ontario to require brand owners and retailers to only use plastic packaging that is recyclable in municipal Blue Box programs.

If you are concerned about the amount of non-recyclable plastic packaging in the marketplace, the Region encourages you to contact your Member of Provincial Parliament, local grocer or retailer and make your views known.

I will do that.

But what to do right now? I feel we really have no choice but to cut down on this clear-plastic waste stream, to eliminate it wherever possible. But does this mean goodbye organic lettuce?

14 comments:

Stephanie said...

It may seem a bit bold but people will notice...when in the produce department or at the register transfer these items to your own plastic containers from home and leave the unfriendly plastic with the store to deal with.

Of course, you will want them to know that you want the products without the excessive packaging so until they solve the problem you will be leaving these containers with them (recyclable or not I think these clam-shells etc. are convenient but excessive).

Fortunately, we are lucky enough to have a local organic supplier at our farmer's market that is very aware of these issues. He has been able to get his producers to not use the plastic clam-shell for the lettuce. They are in plastic bags tied with an elastic around the root ball. I am not sure that this would suit most grocery stores (ease of transportability etc.).

We do the same with the food vendors at the market. We love to order from these vendors because a. the food is really good and b. these are all struggling local independent family operations. So in an effort to reduce waste but more importantly to refuse polystyrene, when we buy from them we insist that they put the food into the plastic containers we have brought from home. A few weeks ago one of the vendors (he sells Nepalese dumplings and noodles) started supplying his own ceramic plates for his eat-in customers.

Good luck with Loblaws...Since they began their refit/rename stores campaign in order to call it restructuring, all for the purpose of paying employees less, I am entirely disappointed with their business model. And this plan cam long in advance of the present economic situation.

L-girl said...

I don't mind being bold, but leaving the packaging is not much better than taking it home. Either way, I'm buying the product and the packaging goes to waste. Asking some Loblaws employee to put the packaging in the trash isn't going to get the company to change.

We do use our own bags and eschew over-packaging whenever possible. But we do like to shop at Loblaws, they're the best of our choices.

Farmer's markets don't work for people who work on weekends, plus they require a lot of extra trips by car (not exactly gren), plus the farmer's market in Miss'a isn't even local produce. (Covered extensively in this blog!)

So... I don't know. Thanks for the input.

Stephanie said...

I hear you. Not a single simple solution...

If I were to transfer items in the grocery I think I would ask for the produce manager to give them to in the hopes of having more impact. Ever the optimist I like to think that they will give some thought to the points raised.

I understand the farmer's market scheduling conflict. Many independent organics suppliers do the home delivery thing too. I think you may have tried this before though. It seems to me that you have blogged about this before...

impudent strumpet said...

So Peel doesn't give you guys the plastic recycling numbers either. WTF do they do this? The pictures are great, but there's the whole "What kind of plastic bag is this?" dilemma.

The other tricky thing about the eggs is that different kinds of eggs have different nutritional content. I found one that has 80% of your RDI of vitamin B12, but it comes in a plastic carton. I'm not usually the kind of person who fusses about specific vitamin, but as a picky vegetarian, finding that much B12 in a food that I actually like is huge.

But that egg carton and the salad containers constitute probably 80-90% of my non-organic garbage.

L-girl said...

"If I were to transfer items in the grocery I think I would ask for the produce manager to give them to in the hopes of having more impact. Ever the optimist I like to think that they will give some thought to the points raised."

You might be right, but that is more of a project than I'm going to take on - or ask Allan to take on, as he does most of the grocery shopping. I think the shopper who did this would end up being a crank, garnering dislike at the store, but accomplishing little. That's just my take, tho.

"I understand the farmer's market scheduling conflict. Many independent organics suppliers do the home delivery thing too. I think you may have tried this before though."

We have our ethically/organically raised, locally-produced meat delivered. Produce delivery doesn't work for us. I have no idea if it exists in my area.

L-girl said...

"So Peel doesn't give you guys the plastic recycling numbers either."

Nope. They do the pictures, plus a list.

"The other tricky thing about the eggs is that different kinds of eggs have different nutritional content."

I saw a CBC Marketplace on this once. Turns out they are mostly false claims, or highly exaggerated. The differences turned out to be extremely slight.

"I found one that has 80% of your RDI of vitamin B12, but it comes in a plastic carton."

That I haven't seen, although I take Vitamin B supplements. I'm only thinking of the Omega-3 claims. Turns out all egss have pretty much the same Omega-3 content.

redsock said...

I think the shopper who did this would end up being a crank, garnering dislike at the store, but accomplishing little.
***********

And my rep at the store is shaky anyway, what with my insistence on wearing only my lucky Speedo when I shop.

L-girl said...

"And my rep at the store is shaky anyway, what with my insistence on wearing only my lucky Speedo when I shop."

Change in the car, do you? Now I know why everyone stares at me when we go in there together, shaking their heads and murmuring, the poor dear...

Stephanie said...

Oh dear...that speedo will indeed get you lots of attention.

Perhaps you could negotiate with the management...no more excess packaging and I will refrain from wearing my lucky speedo. ;-p

impudent strumpet said...

Turns out they are mostly false claims, or highly exaggerated.Are we talking about the nutritional info in the black and white box? Or just the advertising/packaging copy?

L-girl said...

"Are we talking about the nutritional info in the black and white box? Or just the advertising/packaging copy?"

Oops, that's my error. The egg claims that were shown to be exaggerated or misleading were advertising/packaging claims, not nutritional info. Hopefully we can trust the nutritional info.

IIRC, you don't eat meat, so getting B12 through non-meat means is especially important.

impudent strumpet said...

The only reason I was even looking at the nutrition boxes in the first place is because I was thinking "Surely there's nothing to these packaging claims. These eggs are probably all the same."

I've been assuming that the nutritional info has to be correct, because if it were fake-able no one would ever admit to having any trans fats whatsoever.

Scott M. said...

You could always move to York Region where they do accept that stuff for recycling...

L-girl said...

"You could always move to York Region where they do accept that stuff for recycling..."

Turns out this is not true. York Region does not accept it either. More on this soon.