MomActivism: Raising Retail Awareness About Eco Friendly Packaging




I decided a long time ago that I would try not to buy any products that came in packaging that could not be recycled. This has drastically cut down on our options at the supermarket. I also discovered that there was a lot of confusion among consumers and retailers alike as to what is "recyclable" and what is actually recycled by our municipalities. I have posted a number of times on this phenomenon and decided that I would change my awareness-raising approach. I would write directly to food retailers who make products I like and gently ask them to change their packaging practices.
My first open letter was to O'Sole Mio, a local Italian food retailer.
Les Aliments O'Sole Mio Inc.
4000 Alfred-Laliberté
Boisbriand, Quebec
Canada J7H 1P7
August 24, 2009
Dear Mr. Fiore,
I recently bought O'Sole Mio Pesto and Roast Veal with Garlic and Rosemary Agnolotti for my family. Although you may question my mixing rosemary and basil (as neither can be fully appreciated), we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. In addition, my husband and I try to support local companies like yours whenever possible.
We have absolutely no complaints about your products. In fact, they are beyond reproach. However, upon washing the plastic containers your products came in we noticed that there was no resin identification code (RIC) or number in the tiny recycling triangle (click here for a picture of an RIC). Workers at recycling stations must see an RIC in order to sort plastic. (Plastic resins cannot be mixed without compromising their integrity and spoiling their resale value.) From my research, I have learned that discarded plastic without an RIC goes straight to landfill. Please bear in mind that it takes nine times the energy to create plastic as it does to remold it.*
In the interest of the environment and future generations, your children and mine, I am kindly requesting that you use a plastic that can be recycled in our province and ensure that the RIC is clearly displayed in the recycling triangle.
Many well-intentioned companies are duped by plastic retailers who claim that all plastic is recyclable. Yes, all plastic is recyclable, but whether it will be recycled or not depends on the municipality's recycling capacities where the item is discarded.

For instance, the Plateau-Mont Royal borough recycles plastics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7. As you can see polystyrene, number 6 plastic, cannot be recycled in this borough or in the vast majority of Quebec municipalities for that matter. According to RECYC-Québec, the provincial body responsible for recycling, plastics 1, 2 and 5 can be recycled almost anywhere in the province. Don't worry about the other provinces, they tend to be ahead of Quebec in this area.
In addition, we avoid plastic 7 because it may contain Bisphenol A (BPA). Although plastic companies may dismiss the dangers of BPA at low levels, we have chosen to embrace the precautionary principle, or the better-safe-than-sorry approach, and avoid any products bearing the RIC 7. To help us remember the types of plastic that are safe, we use a little rhyme taken from the recently published book Slow Death By Rubber Duck: " (plastics) 4, 5, 1 and 2, all the rest are bad for you."
I realize that a change of this nature cannot be implemented overnight. I would just kindly request that you give some indication as to when a change might occur so that we can begin enjoying your products again.
I realize that this recycling and plastics business is very confusing. I know. I have been researching plastics since it came to light that there was BPA was in the major brands of baby bottles in the fall of 2007.
As I stated in our August 24 telephone conversation, I will be publishing this letter on my blog (www.AKAmamma.blogspot.com). You can respond either in the comments section or by e-mail. Please note that I will post your e-mail reply.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards,
Heather (AKAmamma)
*http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2009/07/31/news/080109rzrgrsrecycl.txt
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2 comments:

Issa | August 24, 2009 at 9:19 PM

What a great idea - to actually write to the company to talk to them about change. It seems that so often people complain without action; it's really awesome to see you taking action!

By the way, I think I ran into you when I was blogging at righttobleed.com but my life has taken a different turn and I'm blogging at lovelivegrow.com now. Feel free to peruse over there. :-)

AKAmamma | August 24, 2009 at 10:40 PM

Great idea...still remains to be seen. I just want to see a tiny number inside a recycling symbol, so I know what kind of plastic it is and whether it can be recycled in my area.

Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your new digs soon. H

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