Re: [GRRN] Bottles vs. Cans

Helen Spiegelman (
Fri, 05 Feb 1999 07:35:23 -0800

Hello, list:

Those of us living in places where great rivers have been despoiled to
create hydroelectric dams to support aluminum smelters (e.g. Alcan's
smelter in British Columbia) have very mixed feelings about aluminum
beverage containers -- especially when our cans travel south (to Beria
Kentucky) to be recyled into new can sheet -- job exports.

Even though aluminum brings revenues to scavengers in local communities, I
see these revenues as "guilt money" from the perpetrators of beverages, who
should be collecting back all their containers and not leaving that task to
local university students (even the "conduct cases").

At the very least, university students and other well-meaning citizens who
take the trouble to clean up after transnational corporations and their
consumers should be ensured a decent rate of return for their efforts.

Here in British Columbia, aluminum and plastic and glass containers all pay
scavengers the same revenues: 5 cents for small containers and 20 cents
for large ones. These are the deposit refunds for these containers. It is
not the scavengers, but the beverage companies, who pay the higher cost to
recycle plastic or glass, when these companies have to market the material

This way, the deposit/return system (like other Product Stewardship
programs in British Columbia) feed the cost back to the producer, creating
a direct economic incentive for producers to come up with the most
cost-effective product and packaging system.

Surely any university student who's taken Econ 101 can see the benefits of
internalizing environmental and social costs in the prices of products.

Helen Spiegelman
3570 West 22nd Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia

604/731-8463 (fax)