Monday, January 03, 2011

Stop recycling.... Let's start REUSING IT!

I don't know when this happened, probably after these mass campaigns on ecological awareness of production processes and this new wave of eco-chic, but I am slowly becoming more and more aware of consumption and how ridiculous some things are.

In the past few weeks, what has been bothering me the most is packaging.
Although we only see the primary packaging (what the product is actually wrapped in), there is also secondary and transit packaging, which I will not even go into.
But even primary packaging. Half of all packaging is plastic and 25% paper/board, 10% glass. Of these, currently in Amsterdam, with the exception of beer bottles and a small portion of PET bottles, NONE of them are being re-used.(excluding the niche bio-market packaging that is being re-used in a much smaller scale).
Although we try to feel better about ourselves by saying we recycle it, but think about it again. These products/packaging are made so that they last (almost) a life time/forever. That is why plastic doesn't rot, because it was meant to be used forever! However, we don't. And the best we do is recycle it. But recycling is not RE-cycling, its DOWN-cycling.
When we recycle a glass product, it means that it is first smashed up, probably mixed in with non-glass products to make a not as good quality re-cycled glass product. Throughout this whole process we use energy and other natural resources. And apparently recycling wine bottles leave as much carbon foot print, as making a new wine bottle. - and let's not forget that not all glass products are recycled.(In Germany, the recycling country of the world, only 82% of glass products are recycled. In the UK, this is about 60%)

Now think about the glass products that we usually use.
Just to give you an example in my household, the bottles we have are predominately wine bottles and glass jars that holds things, such as pickles.
Wine bottles for example, are almost uniform in their shapes, and can actually be re-used just like beer bottles. Why are we not doing this? ( This post says that it has been due to technological problems, but also interests behind making new bottles. Fortunately enough there have been movements to change this, and businesses are being set up to re-use bottles.)

But still what really gets me going, is how Albert Heijn, the biggest supermarket in the Netherlands, where it really has a monopoly in supermarket goods, does not even re-use their own product packaging - for example the juice bottles. See, if it is your own product, you cannot use the excuse of "not same standard" nor the "takes more energy to take it back to the production field/factory" excuse.
They have the network and I bet you that their costumers are enlightened enough to bring the bottles back, even if it did not have a "statiegeld"-deposit for it!!

Just some of the EASILY reusable products from Albert Heijn.

So... Here is a little campaign I am going to start.
Go here:
Choose overige, for your onderwerp.
and write down
"Dear Albert Heijn, Hello. I am a very frequent customer of yours, but I have a complaint. I am wondering why you do not re-use your bottles and jars of your own products- such as the Albert Heijn Juice or Jam, and the plastic packaging - such as the Alert Heijn ready to eat products. Recycling takes as much energy and leaves as much carbon foot print as making new products. By not re-using the packaging, this puts me and many others off of buying the mentioned products. on the other hand, I will be more than happy to bring the used bottles, jars, cartons back to Albert Heijn for free, or will be willing to be charged "statiegeld"- deposit, when I purchase these products. I hope you listen to our plea. Best wishes, [YOUR NAME]"

PS. Ofcourse, when I tried this, the albertheijn site didn't work......!@*@#&@*!


Anonymous said...

It's true. It's my first time in Amsterdam and I bought an orange juice in Albert Heijn in a glass bottle of the chain. I thought it would be the most common thing these bottles to be reusable, and the clients who'd bring them back to the market would receive some discount whem buying a new juice. Shame they are not reusable.

Anonymous said...

they do pay 25cents for plastic bottles? don't know what they do with them though??