Section 2: The Ziploc Standard
- Voice in the Wind Magazine Inc.
Want to help the environment? If you’re like me, then you already have a full time job. Do you really want another? I sure as hell don’t and I think I have a way to make ends meet.
We need to streamline our recycling system. I propose the “Ziploc Standard”, as I call it. This would come in the form of a bill or petition brought to and voted on by our politicians. In real world terms it boils down to this: basically, all plastics, tins, aluminum and glass should be dishwasher safe and recyclable. So let’s imagine a real world example. Remember the cereal you just bought – it’s in your cupboard. It has a plastic bag in it that holds the cereal. That bag is inside a box. Well, the bag is pretty flimsy and we’re supposed to rinse these things out to prevent food from contaminating the plastic during the recycling process. This means standing over the sink holding the bag or to put bluntly, I have to do the work. If the “Ziploc Standard” had been met, the cereal would have been in a plastic container, screw top with a tin foil seal. The plastic would be strong enough to keep its shape, even in the dishwasher, meaning the machine can do the work. That’s how I like it.
At a restaurant, it is necessary for all recyclables (especially plastic) to be dishwasher-safe and capable of holding its shape to reduce labour, cost and time. All products need to fit into ecolab’s dishwasher racks and this standard can achieve that by allowing manufacturers the information necessary to redesign and repackage their products with an eye to the ultimate goal of having all products easily cleaned and recycled.
It should be noted that certain products might need changes for the safety of those cleaning them. One example that comes to mind is soup cans. When cut open, the lid usually has sharp, jagged edges which are likely to cut workers. It would be advisable, therefore, to change to tabs. This can be part of the standards included in the proposed bill and voted on by our politicians. Below is a list of changes that should be included in the legislation for the “Ziploc Standard”.
- Glass items should be sized to fit into the “pockets” of racks designed to prevent breakage. This the single most important change to products (for safety)
- Soup cans should have tabs to open the can
- Paper labels should have a tab or extra paper to make it easy to remove
- Products should be shaped to fit into racks for easy loading/unloading
- Lids should have spouts built into them for two reasons: The lids are not usually recyclable so they don’t need to be cleaned, and because the neck of the bottle can be wider to allow for water to be sprayed in by the machine
WHAT WE’LL NEED
- Plastic containers (dishwasher-friendly, heat resistant, recyclable)
- Legislation to be written and passed into law
- Manufacturer’s participation
- Create a petition or bill for politicians
- Get it on the floor
- Pass the legislation
- Less manual labour
- Higher participation rate
- Less plastic waste
- Higher recapture rate (less contamination of plastic)
- No need for double packaging of cereal (the box is no longer needed)
- Save a few trees by using less cardboard
- Simplifies recycling by creating a shared standard and eliminating confusing labels/other types of plastic
- Streamlines recycling facilities and standardizes equipment used
- Standardizes recycling for consumers and industry at the same time
- Containers are also reusable
In the future I hope ideas like this will transform how we solve problems in today’s world, opening the door to collaboration and people-first solutions that bring promise and hope for a better future.
In the next section, titled “Ecolab’s Project”, I will tackle some things that need to be done by Ecolab itself to help smooth the process. Don’t worry, it’s nothing major.