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    It seems that recycling gave manufacturers a license to produce more 
waste, but it is OK to produce waste as long as it is recyclable, they think.  The 
Grass Roots Recycling Network report "Wasting and Recycling in the U.S. 2000" 
indicates that between 1990 and 1997 plastic packaging grew five times faster 
by weight than plastic recovered for recycling.  And according to Ecology of 
Commerce author Paul Hawken, 94 percent of the materials used in the 
manufacture of the average U.S. product are thrown away before the product even reaches 
the shelves."  A lot of attention gets focused on the problem while no 
attention gets focused on the real solution.  
    The solution was discovered by the Boston based Tellus Research 
Institute.  They were commissioned to conduct a 2-year study that would show how 
beneficial recycling is for the environment.  As a result of this study they 
concluded, "recycling does not appear to be the solution, but light weighting and 
concentration is."    
    None of the environmental cost for this waste (recycled or not) is 
factored into the price of a product when purchased by the consumer.  Policy makers 
at all levels of government are starting to realizes the mounting damage being 
done by the proliferation of needless packaging materials disposed of in the 
process of consuming soft drinks!  Recycling is not a solution to the 
pollution problem; it is a pollution problem providing merely an improvement to the 
problem while still causing pollution.  When one considers that this improvement 
to the problem provides a license to make the problem even bigger (produce 
more waste) instead of focusing on ways to eliminate the problem, then this 
improvement to the problem becomes the problem and becomes a license to pollute.  
When it comes to helping the environment, the best one can do is to eliminate 
the packaging all together.
    Zero Waste is getting a lot of attention.  For myself, zero waste is 
about challenging the ruling paradigm that says we can manage waste safely by 
recycling it instead of re-using it, reducing it, and eliminating it, by light 
weighting it, and concentrating it.  What we need to understand is that even if 
we could recycle 100% of the waste, recycling the waste does not equal zero 
waste and zero environmental impact.  Reducing and eliminating the waste equals 
zero waste and zero environmental impact.  Recycling the waste minimizes the 
cost to our environment over disposing of the waste in landfills and 
incinerators but with so much waste to recycle it is a major pollution problem.  Reducing 
and eliminating the waste has NO impact on our environment.  To quote Brenda 
Platt of the Washington-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, "the key is 
to stop thinking about waste as a problem and to start thinking about it as an 
opportunity-in effect, from waste to wealth." 
    Over 13 years ago I stopped thinking about waste as a problem and found 
the opportunity in it.  For over 13 years my customers have been setting a 
trend in the soft drink industry by eliminating disposable cans and bottles.  We 
have eliminated millions of disposable cans and bottles and in the future we 
will eliminate billions of disposable cans and bottles.  You can go to our 
website at

Mark Clayton
Owner, Right Choice Refreshments

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