A Thompson Rivers University review panel continues to weigh the merits of eliminating the sale of plastic bottles on campus.
And it can’t be an easy task considering how contradictory the arguments are.
The student union’s campaign to eliminate the bottles quotes statistics from B.C.’s main recycler Encorp Pacific to say that plastic bottles are recycled at a much lower rate than glass and aluminum, and of that recycled material, only 20 per cent is turned back into bottles.
That’s because the material degrades quickly, TRU Students’ Union executive director Nathan Lane told the panel on Feb. 27.
But the Canadian Beverage Association states that plastic bottles made from PET can be recycled over and over again — up to 20 cycles with no significant degradation.
And Jim Goetz, president of the Canadian Beverage Association, has a much more positive outlook on the statistics derived from the same source.
“Encorp Pacific has a recycling rate of plastic beverage containers of 80 per cent,” said Goetz.
“There’s a lot of misconception around plastic packaging in general. When you look at plastic packaging out there, there is no more recyclable and recycled packing than PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, specifically beverage containers.”
Furthermore, he said, that recycled plastic is turned back into bottles as well as other material like fleece jackets and carpets, which adds to the Canadian economy.
Goetz goes onto say that the manufacturing of PET containers uses less energy than glass or steel and creates a smaller carbon footprint during distribution since it’s much lighter.
“This is why you find companies all over the world increasingly using PET as a packaging alternative,” he said.
One of Goetz’s staffers presented the association’s report, Evidence Based Review for Best Drink Containers Solution, to the TRU panel on Feb. 27.
“As an industry, we are always striving to find solutions to increase our products’ recovery rates through our significant involvement in the management of Encorp Pacific,” states the report.
“A plastic bottle ban at TRU would be an unproductive initiative in achieving our shared goal of increasing the recovery rate of beverage containers and improving environmental sustainability.”
Tom Owen, TRU’s Environmental Office director and chair of the committee, is accepting written and oral presentations on the subject until March 22.
He will then take the material and formulate his own report and recommendations for delivery to the school’s Board of Governors by the end of April.