On our electronics bin at the Environmental Awareness Day in Oakville earlier this month, we hung a sign that read: “Doing The Right Thing Made Easy.” It is a headline that we have used in some of our transit campaigns.

The elements we like about that line are: A) that it encourages people to recycle by reminding them of the importance of getting into that habit, and B) it tells them that we are conveniently located in their community and not a lot of effort is really required to divert their recyclable metals from landfills.

Recycling Is A Good Habit For Everyone to Embrace

For an ever growing number of people, recycling has generally become part of a healthier lifestyle– one which supports the sustainability of our planet and one that is personally rewarding because it immediately contributes to something positive. In the case of scrap metal recycling, it’s also a good thing that you get paid something for your efforts.

A fact familiar to many of us is that Canadians love their beer. In the Province of Ontario, The Beer Store has achieved an impressive recovery rate of 95% on standard bottles. It’s not simply the money exchanged that drives these returns. For most of us, it is a habit. We buy the beer, place the empties back in their containers and return them on our next beer run. Our dads did it, we do it, our kids do it and their kids will do it too.

Also familiar to many of us, is the way we now handle our household waste. Compost material is separate from cardboard and blue box items and so on. This too has become a habit for most of us.

The Other Side of The Recycling Coin

These good recycling habits that we have developed, do not however extend to everything. This is evidenced, for example, by the fact that more than one third of Ontarians have unwanted electronic devices to dispose of. According to the Ministry of the Environment website, this is because:

26% haven’t gotten around to it,
24% hope to pass it along and
17% don’t know what to do with it.


For those who would like to see their electronic devices out of their way:

46% lack the motivation,
32% do not know where proper disposal is available and
21% don’t want to pay a disposal fee

Over the past few years, the government, has stepped in and we now have product stewardship programs and increasingly aggressive legislationwhich has sponsored extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs and is now setting its sights on individual extended producer responsibility (IPR) i.e. making individual companies accountable for end-of-life management.

These measures are designed to encourage manufacturers to redesign their products in a way that reduces waste by improving the recyclable content of the products they are producing.

Arguably from our point of view, the government is meddling in all of this without due regard to the disruption caused in the existing market system.

In a recent article in Solid Waste and Recycling, Guy Crittenden has pointed out some of the follies of government interventions along the way.

http://blog.solidwastemag.com/understanding-extended-producer-responsibility/

It Takes Two To Tango

No matter what we think of government meddling, or private sector industry responsibility, at the end of the day these initiatives do not directly address the reality that for any program to be successful people simply have to get on board and get into the habit of recycling. The “lifecycle” approach to consumer goods needs to evolve into a true “lifestyle” approach for each of us.

This is one of the compelling arguments that we at Peel Scrap Metal Recycling Ltd. have been promoting for several years now, particularly in regard to electronics. Because with the ever increasing proliferation of electronic devices in our lives, we have to start treating them in the same way we treat beer bottles, paper or compost.

With our being located within the communities we serve and approachable, our hope is that this helps to make it both easy and rewarding for people to step out of their comfort zone, collect their scrap metal and end-of-life-electronics and bring them in to be responsibly recycled.

So this is our challenge to you and to everyone in the areas we serve:

Make The Choice…Start A New Habit
Don’t Let Your Scrap Metal Go To Waste.

For a fascinating look at human nature, behavior and how we might change our habits we recommend Eric Haseltine’s book entitled Long Fuse, Big Bang. We try to be both informative and challenging in our blogs. As always, we would be happy to receive your comments on this or any others blogs that we have posted.