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Ordering Products in Green Packaging

August 24th, 2010 1 comment

We’ve all wrestled with a product package that’s almost impossible to open. In addition to being frustrating, plastic packaging is wasteful. But, some manufacturers are starting to make greener packaging for their mail-order products.

We at ecycler.com recently bought two Logitech web cams — one from a major electronics retailer and the other from amazon.com. The one from the brick and mortar store was encased in hard-to-open plastic inside a brightly colored box about three times its size.

The one that came in the mail was a simple cardboard box. Printed on the inside was a message from Logitech saying, “This box never has to deal with a store shelf. It doesn’t require layers of plastic — so you can open it easily. It can use fewer materials than our retail package — which can make recycling simpler.”

So while you save time by ordering online — and money by not having to pay sales tax — doing so can also be greener. On its box, Logitech also says, “A brown box may not be pretty, but we think the results are beautiful.”

We do, too.

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Bottle Bill Expansion is a “No Go” for Massachusetts!

August 18th, 2010 No comments

The expansion to the existing Massachusetts bottle bill (House Bill 3515) is dead. Again…

The bill was elegant and smart, and it would have brought a little money with it.

It would have given a makeover to the state’s bottle redemption law, which puts a refundable nickel deposit on some drink containers to encourage consumers to return them rather than throw them in the trash.

The 1982 law was written before the explosion of the snake-oil industry more commonly known as the bottled water business. And so it applies only to carbonated drinks — not water, sports drinks, or teas. Those drinks account for at least 1 billion of the more than 3 billion drink containers sold in Massachusetts each year. Only a third of those excluded containers, at best, are recycled (compared with 80 percent of bottles that carry deposits).

The rest — enough plastic bottles to fill Fenway Park, according to a Sierra Club estimate — are tossed into landfills each year.

The bottle bill update would have kept most of that plastic out of landfills and sent it to redemption centers. Those centers get 2.25 cents from beverage distributors for every bottle they handle, and the bill would have raised those handling fees by a penny — the first increase for struggling recycling centers since 1990.

The state said the new law would save cities and towns up to $7 million a year in trash costs and add $20 million to the $38 million the state already gets each year from unclaimed deposits.

Not surprisingly, the beverage industry went to work on legislators to snuff out the whole thing. After all, the new law would cost distributors money, making them responsible for even more bottles, when what they really want is to be responsible for none of them.

The companies that seem to have had no problem jacking up prices over the decades when it meant profits for them suddenly found grave concern for the well-being of their customers: There was no avoiding passing their extra costs along to Joe Six-pack, they said, and that wouldn’t be fair to him.

They were über-tree huggers, too, they said, and they worried that encouraging more bottle redemptions would undermine curbside recycling. As if we couldn’t — or shouldn’t — do both.

Despite their efforts, the bottle bill update got further than it has in the 16 years advocates have been trying to get it passed. A compromise made it out of a Senate committee for the first time in mid-July.

“I’ve worked on a lot of bills, and I really thought they were going to do it this time,’’ said Phil Sego, spokesman for the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

The bottle bill was done in by the dreaded T-word. Critics called the deposits a tax. And legislative leaders would rather eat their own heads than pass anything that even remotely resembles that evil specter.

Never mind that the five-cent deposit is fully refundable. Never mind that the bill would save cities and towns cleanup costs and fund water supply improvements. Never mind that the bill would offset the much bigger and more permanent cost of clogging landfills with plastic forever.

If intransigent legislators understood those nuances, they had no appetite for communicating them to voters in an election year, or no faith that their constituents would get it.

RIP (for now…)

Additional Information on Existing MA Bottle Bill: http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/bbillcon.htm

Original story written by Yvonne Abraham, a Globe columnist–it may be found here at The Boston Globe.

ecycler Podcasts Now Available on iTunes

August 5th, 2010 1 comment

ecycler has taken its popular Crush that Can web series to a new level. In addition to our YouTube and Vimeo channels, we have now syndicated our series to Apple’s iTunes platform–the full videos are easily available on your iPhone, iPod or iPad. All for free!

Crush that Can is a series of videos–short, humorous videos to demonstrate different ways to decrease the size of aluminum cans in order to prepare them for recycling in non-bottle bill states.

We strive for ways to promote recycling in an exciting way!

You may subscribe to ecycler’s Crush that Can podcast by either searching “Crush that Can” on iTunes or by subscribing directly at http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/crush-that-can/id372750658.

ecycler TV options:

iTunes: Crush that Can podcast

YouTube: youtube.com/ecycler

Vimeo: vimeo.com/ecycler

RSS feed: feedburner.com/CrushThatCan

Enjoy the Crush that Can series on any of these platforms. We’re always open to suggestions for additional formats–let us know through our ecycler Contact Us page.

* Apple and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.
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