Who’s responsible for ensuring that beverage bottles get recycled? In today’s world, it’s the bottle manufacturers, brand owners and importers who must report and pay fees on the amount of plastic packaging they place on the market in terms of goods for sale.
For help with this, environmental regulation expert Lorax Compliance (Rugby, UK) helps companies manage the escalating scope and complexity of compliance with environmental legislation.
Compliance initiatives across the globe also require consumers to pay a small deposit for plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans, which is added onto a product’s initial cost. The consumer is refunded this deposit when the product is returned to a store for recycling.
Such schemes require the cooperation of manufacturers, fillers, packers and retailers for the cost of recovery and refunds. Bottle deposit initiatives fall under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, which requires beverage manufacturers to report periodically to recycling organizations with details of product packaging.
In 1970, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to establish a compulsory deposit return scheme for soft drinks and beer containers. Now, nearly all Canadian provinces have implemented a deposit refund system with which brand owners and manufacturers must comply. Each province has its own compliance requirements, further complicating the process.
When I was kid, a good way to make a buck to buy a candy bar or a soda was to take the bottles back to the neighborhood grocery store. I’d get a nickel for every soda bottle I turned in. But competition was stiff back then.
There was an older kid who used to walk the roadways in our area, carrying a burlap bag and scouring the ditch-banks for soda bottles. Because he didn’t go to school (his parents, who were tenant farmers, told him he didn’t have to go), he was able to spend his days picking up bottles and returning them to the store. A nickel meant a lot to that kid, and a whole lot of nickels meant a whole lot!
We didn’t have to pay more for our soft drinks. I guess the bottle makers or soft drink companies felt it was worth a nickel apiece to get the bottles back—most likely because it was cheaper than making new bottles.
There were no “compulsory” regulations back then, either. We did it because it was fun to see who could collect the most bottles. A couple of nickels bought a Snickers or Milky Way bar, so it was worth the effort.
Nickels don’t mean as much in today’s economy, so kids aren’t as excited about collecting bottles and cans. Companies like Lorax Compliance, with its “robust environmental compliance service in place,” are there to see that companies support the EPR regulations. Lorax even has software to calculate the fees that brand owners must pay according to the volume of waste they place on the market and when, ensuring companies do not over- or under-pay at each step of the process.
Manufacturers who fail to meet their EPR obligations run the risk of large fines and reputational damage. “Staying on top of new legislation can prove tricky for many companies, particularly if they don’t have the resources to research upcoming changes in house,” said Michelle Carvell, Director and COO at Lorax Compliance.
Given that beverage companies have a global reach with their products, overseeing the various regulations at the local, state, national and international levels is a full-time job. Hence, Lorax Compliance.
“We urge beverage manufacturers operating in these markets who believe EPR legislation applies to them to seek advice to clarify their environmental obligations and guide them through the challenges of product compliance,” said Carvell.
I guess recycling just isn’t as much fun as it once was.