Taking action to be environmentally sustainable is a way of life

MP Jean Crowder shares information about tetra-paks and about Waste Reduction Week in her monthly column.

Taking action to be environmentally sustainable is a way of life for many of my constituents.

British Columbia residents recycle a lot more than other Canadians. According to BC Statistics, the average resident recycles about 145 kilograms of waste each year.

That’s why when I started receiving letters complaining about the lack of recycling opportunities for soup tetra-paks, I did a little digging. I was disappointed to realize that determining what can be recycled is a provincial issue, so I couldn’t take action as your MP to make it easier.

But I thought I would share some of the information I found with you.

Tetra-paks are unique in that they use multiple layers of material. Paperboard, polyethylene and aluminum are sandwiched together to create the distinctive package.

On its website, Tetra-Pak Canada says that tetra-paks are recyclable. The packages need to be re-pulped in a paper recycling mill. That way, the wood fibres from the paperboard work free, separating the materials.

While the beverage container industry in British Columbia pays for recycling of beverage tetra-paks, the soup and broth producers do not have a province-wide recycling program.

It will take pressure from consumers to get soup and broth producers to enact their own province-wide system for recycling soup tetra-paks.

For details on how to contact those manufacturers, either check the packaging for contact information or go to my website, where I have a listing of producers.

That would be one way to celebrate Waste Reduction Week, a national challenge for every Canadian to take steps to reduce the waste they produce.

This year, the week runs from Oct. 15-21. It challenges schools, businesses and municipalities to find ways to reduce their own waste, as well as asks individuals to find strategies that work for them.

So far, the website for Waste Reduction Week doesn’t list any events or supporters for Ladysmith and area. I’m sure that will change as we get closer to the date.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is a supporter of Zero Waste. This is a philosophy and a goal: to try and reduce consumption when designing products and industrial processes.

For most of us, this means choosing products with less packaging and that are readily recyclable. Or choosing a product that is easy to dismantle and recycle when it gets to its end of usable life.

That would be another great way to celebrate Waste Reduction Week — identifying and implementing zero waste strategies both at home, in business and in our schools.

I would like to hear from you if you have an idea on how the federal government can help. Please e-mail me at jean@jeancrowder.ca.