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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Follow up to Minister Murray's Visit - Parent letter
Preparation for Minister Murray’s Visit – We will be asking the Minister questions about Bill 151. A good question proceeds as follows:
Step 1 Research  The Council of Canadians gives 5 reasons why we should not have bottled water including the fact that tap water is safer
Step 2. Tie it into the big idea (in our instance the Big idea is Bill 151 and the five key areas the Bill breaks down are 1. Setting Provincial Direction   2. EPR   3. Divert More Waste From Disposal  4. Help People with the 3 Rs    5. Stimulate markets for Recovered Materials)
Bill 151 talks about setting provincial direction and epr.   (Gr. 5/6 class, check out this link as it has great info) .ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2015/012-5834_DraftStrategy.pdf  
Step 3 Ask the Question  
My question Minister Murray is will the government make bottled water companies responsible for the collection of their bottles with a deposit system similar to what’s done for beer bottles? We know that water bottle are recyclable but too many end up in the landfill. Bill 151 could help change this.
Some extra reading for those who want to do more
Have a read about this interesting look at what we should do with our over packaging.
Zero waste next steps – (Feb 18, 2016)
1.       web pages  on topic of zero waste   - try to include a stat and make sure you have a referenced source
2.        letters to companies you have questions for – include  who we are, why we’re writing, what we’ve learned (green dot, stewardship Ontario, bill 151 , closed loop, epr and some waste stats , invite them to come in
3.       questions for Ministry of the Environment – can be about Bill 151 (Remember, questions based on knowledge)
4.       questions for City of Toronto – can be about diversion, green bin, recycling process
5.       Play auditions starting Feb 22
6.       Start planning out our event – what do we want people to know and learn about zero waste
 Our recent letter about M and Ms
Hi, we are the Gr. 5/6 class from St. Sylvester School in Toronto. Our class is doing a zero waste project to try and reduce waste in our world.
We are writing to you because we have questions about  your packaging. Your chocolate is amazing. It’s our favourite candy, and we like lots of candy. Our concern is that your packaging which we understand is made of multi layered laminate which will go in the garbage. There is a whole lot of garbage created in Toronto: 380 552 tonnes of garbage - that’s over 76 000 elephants worth of garbage in Toronto! (source City of Toronto Waste Stats 2014). We think we know an alternative to your packaging. Smarties and Reese’s pieces are both packaged in cardboard boxes. This makes them a circular or closed loop package. Once Bill 151 comes into place in Ontario, we think the closed loop package will cost companies less money and this means you will have to pay more money for M and Ms packaging.
Please take a look at our school website that explains how we’ve been learning about this topic.
We are hoping to have someone  come into our class to speak about packaging because our teacher and principal keep saying we need to know both sides of the issue. Would you please come and visit us?
We would appreciate this greatly.
The Gr. 5/6 class at St. Sylvester (typed by Mr. Fernandes – our principal with our teacher Mrs. Stoner in the class as well)
Info from an enviro expert
Hey Roy,
To answer your question:
1.       Are you involved at all in the green bin program because a lot of our questions are about organics
-I am very familiar with the green bin program and how it is processed, all recyclable processing was handle by my previous department so feel free to ask anything J
2.       We know that in Ontario, only #1-6 plastics are taken. Do you know why other countries take other numbers?
We actually take plastics 1-7 using what is called the ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System, some nations have yet to implement these codes but for the most part for consumer products sold and imported in North America these codes must be present.
3.       What do you do with the recycling products that are 7-93?
Recycling codes 8-93 are actually different items that can be recycled such as cardboard or textiles and wood etc. but for our Blue Bin Program within the City of Toronto we can't except everything as it would be a large job to sort it all we concentrate on the most used and marketable items.
4.       How often are the wrong things placed in recycling and what happens to those items?
From audits completed on the blue bin material that enters our MRF (Material Recovery Facility- where everything gets sorted) it's about 20-25% contamination (things that don't belong in the blue bin) these items either get captured by human intervention, mechanical sorting or quality control.  They are then removed from the system and landfilled.
5.       Who is more “guilty” residential or industry for our waste diversion?
I would say both are equally responsible because industry feeds our consumption and consumption creates waste.  The City of Toronto practices responsible purchasing and sustainability and we go the extra mile above and beyond what is required by provincial laws because we account for this in our budgets.  I feel most industries (not all) do the minimum and that’s why certain new laws such as the Carbon Cap and Trade System is rolling out to combat these polluters.
6.       Everything that is made of plastic but has no recycling sign on it, does it go right to the landfill?
Great question if it ends up in our blue bin there is a chance that the product can end up in the correct place because we use robot sorting equipment.  As the material runs along a conveyor belt it is scanned by a laser at a high rate of speed.  This laser determines the chemical composition of the product and when it reaches the end of the conveyor belt if the product is what the laser is looking for (any one of the plastic 1-7) it will use a 'piston' of compressed air to eject the product on the appropriate conveyor belt.  I have attached a video to give an idea how it works.
7.       Do you have thoughts on how we can reduce our waste? (we are keenly interested in packaging).
Well the best way is to know the rules of recycling and organics and understand how much can actually be diverted from landfills.  Secondly is to vote with your wallet and don't consume or purchase products that don't come in recyclable packaging.  So it all comes down to education and self-enforcement these two characteristics can have great impact on markets and would definitely shape the future.
I would love to visit the school- I am currently lining up presentations (assembly style to reach the most amount of students at one time) on waste diversion.  If this sounds like something the school would like to participate in we can work something out as I am free on these days.  I just need to speak to the principal to confirm details- can you copy him/her in?
PS – as for the compostable bags Pepsi is talking about, these products aren't recyclable they just have a smaller decomposition rate when landfilled.
Our letter to Pepsi co re Sun chips biodegradable bags that are no longer in use
Thanks for the reply. We’re disappointed that you are unable to send someone in to meet with our committed environmental Gr 5/6 class, but we understand that you are busy people.
We congratulate you for being #1 on Macleans list of top 50 socially responsible corporations. We still have a few questions.
1.       We understand consumer feedback made you decide not to continue with the compostable sun  chip bag. Other than the noise, what other consumer feedback lead you to this decision?
2.       We understand that the cost of making the bags may be a problem since businesses need to make profit. Did you consider raising the price of the bag?
3.       Did you consider making the bag smaller to cut down the cost? (after all there is a whole lot of air in your bags!)
4.       We read your performance with purpose mission and the Pepsi co Canada environmental sustainability effort info sheet and commend you for stating “financial achievement must go hand in hand with social and environmental performance.” Is the cost of making the compostable bags hand in hand with environmental performance?
5.       Your site also says you have focused on “water, waste, energy and packaging.”  We read all about the great water reduction and electricity reduction, but where is the reduction in packaging? Your compostable bag would have done this.
We were so excited when we heard about your compostable bag but we are so disappointed that you have stopped making them. Our belief is that consumers WILL pay extra just like they do for organic produce and meat.
The proposed Bill 151 in Ontario is trying to create a circular loop where packaging is concerned. We do not feel that  Frito Lay is doing this right now, but we know you can set the tone and do so.
We are young environmental leaders and we hope you will consider our views.  We look forward to hearing back from you and thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Mrs. Stoner’s Gr. 5/6 class (and Mr. Fernandes)
A reply from Worlds Finest Chocolate to our questions re packaging
Hi Roy,
Thank you for your enquiry and for choosing WFC for your fundraising campaign;  we really appreciate it!
Please accept my sincere apology for the delay in responding.  We were presented with an unexpected and very pressing warehousing challenge that has dominated our lives for the past couple of weeks. Since I think the Zero Waste project your Grade 5/6 class is working on is important, I wanted to give my response the thought and consideration it deserves.
First, it’s important that your students know that a consumers’ likes and dislikes are very important to marketers. They as consumers can, individually and collectively, change the products that companies offer.  For example, when they are choosing what to buy, they need to think about the way the product is packaged and whether the packaging adds value to them.  Is it necessary?  Does it make the product easier to use?  When it comes to food, does it keep the product fresh and safe? How will they dispose of it?  If they have concerns, they can contact the company to let them know that they don’t like the packaging and why.  They can offer suggestions to make it better.  If the packaging does not meet their needs, is there an alternative product available that is packaged in a way that does? If so, they could choose it.   If there is a lot of customer feedback or if sales are dropping, the company will likely make changes.
Manufacturers have to weigh the feedback from consumers with the cost and complexity of suggested changes and evaluate if the proposed change will have the outcome that the consumer thinks it will.  An example of this is our Continental Almonds.  We get occasional feedback that we should put the almonds in a bag and then put the bag into a carton.  Their perception is that this would keep them fresher.  We have evaluated whether adding a bag would make it fresher and have determined that it would not.  But adding a bag would add cost. It would add a production step, an investment in a machine to bag the almonds, the cost of bags and it would require a larger carton in order to be able to put the bag into it.  Most consumers would likely not be willing to pay more.
The way a product is consumed is an important consideration in the choice of packaging.  For example, Continental Almonds are often eaten by one person rather than being shared. They are typically eaten at one occasion rather than over time.  Our individually foil wrapped products such as Caramel Whirls are “consumed” differently.  These products are often shared with others; the individual wrapping makes them more acceptable for sharing.  If they are not shared, they are more often enjoyed over time rather than all at once.  So the individual wrapping is seen as beneficial since the carton will be open for some time before the chocolates are all eaten.  As you mentioned, there are also differences in the chocolate product itself that need to be taken into consideration when choosing the packaging.  Without the Caramel Whirls being individually wrapped, they would stick together and it would compromise the integrity of the product.  That would make them less appealing.  So potential savings on packaging have to be weighed against the downside of providing a product that does not meet the needs of the consumer.
With respect to the proposed Bill 151,  it seems to be too early to know how this will effect what companies will pay for recycling.  Regardless, WFC continues to work towards developing  and encouraging more sustainable practices to benefit suppliers, customers and our consumers.  Over the last year we have implemented increased recycling practices and switched to packaging suppliers that are also committed to environmental stewardship.  The supplier we buy our packaging from has a zero waste-to-landfill protocol.  This year we have also changed our product cases which will save over 658 tons of corrugated cardboard a year in Canada.  The cases are also 100% recyclable.  Reducing waste and the amount of material used makes great financial since to companies.  Doing it in a way that meets the needs and desires of consumers is critical to their long term success.
I hope this information is helpful to your Grade 5/6 class.  This is a very complex and challenging topic.  It is great to know that they are learning about it.  We all need to understand the impact of our decisions and actions when it comes to reducing waste.