Written by: RSE Staff on July 4, 2014

Product packaging is an integral element for businesses to easily transport, promote and protect their products for consumer consumption and accounts for a substantial portion of the waste generated by Canadians. A recent study on municipal waste generation by the Conference Board of Canada shows that Canadians produce 777 kilograms of waste per person annually, significantly higher than the 587 kilogram average and more than double the 377 kilograms produced by consumers in Japan.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), any waste collected by or on the order of municipalities falls under the definition of municipal waste, “Municipal waste is from households, including bulky waste, similar waste from commerce and trade, office buildings, institutions and small businesses, yard and garden waste, street sweepings, the contents of litter containers, and market cleansing waste”.

Recycling has become one of the most practical solutions to achieving waste diversion. Many businesses have recognized the growing demand for eco-friendly products and packaging so, they are investing resources into the necessary research, technology and business approach to substantially and sustainably reduce their environmental impact. Municipalities have also amplified their efforts by strengthening policies around recycling systems to ensure communities have access to recycling services and are better informed about what materials are accepted.

So the question is: Why do consumers continue to place recyclable products into the waste stream? Is it a lack of sufficient public education about the costs and benefits of recycling, what can be recycled and what happens to the materials? If so, how can it be addressed?

Many producers, not-for-profit organizations, NGO’s, industry experts and municipalities have worked together to develop programs and awareness campaigns educating consumers about their local recycling programs and packaging recyclability.  Reclay StewardEdge has the privilege of operating the CBCRA (Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association), a not-for-profit, industry-led and funded organization whose membership includes beverage brand owners and distributors. CBCRA is committed to reaching the government-mandated target of recovering 75% of beverage containers sold in Manitoba.

In the past year, they introduced one of the largest recycling related promotion and education campaigns in Canadian history.  Their Recycle Everywhere campaign helped CBCRA reach a 61% recovery rate for 2013; making it CBCRA’s strongest year to date and keeping them on track to achieving their 75% target.  Since 2010, they have seen a 45% increase in the beverage container recovery rate in Manitoba.