The other day I visited a new local enterprise called Juiced Life and chatted to the owner as she made me a freshly squeezed juice. When she gave me the drink in a very attractive glass bottle, I asked her if I could return with the bottle and re-use it. No, she said. It’s against the law.
She told me (rather sadly, may I add) Juiced Life’s original business model was one where customers would buy the juice in a branded bottle, then return it for their next drink. It makes sense doesn’t it? Fewer bottles in landfills, less overheads and energy wasted on recycling. She explained they even had a bottle cleaning machine on the premises ready to make sure the returned bottles were thoroughly cleaned.
Alas, legislation here in New South Wales forbids such environmentally responsible initiatives.
Outraged at such irrational, small-business-crushing legislation, energised after my deliciously nutritious drink, I stormed home and googled.
My first guess as I searched for answers was this nutty law had something to do with the nanny state and potential litigation. If a bottle isn’t clean and a customer gets sick, someone can be sued. Yet when I dug further, it turned out the beverage and packaging industries have lobbied to curtail any changes to current legislation.
Before I say more, here’s a link to a related piece of research on the topic from The Conversation.
Here’s an excerpt that made my juices curdle:
The beverage and packaging industry have, over the years, provided modest funding for litter-reduction campaigns or initiatives to reduce packaging, in exchange for governments resisting calls to introduce a system which puts responsibility for recycling cans and bottles on the companies that make them.
So where does this leave a small business that does want to take responsibility for their packaging? Breaking the law, apparently.
Many small businesses run on the smell of an oily rag and owners often work hours that would have employees screaming exploitation and racing to their unions or the Human Rights Commission. So, short of spending vast amounts of time and energy fighting for change, there’s not a lot a small business owner can do except adapt to current legislation, which is what Juiced Life has been driven to do.
But there’s hope. Consumer demand is the force for change. Consumers have the power to put the squeeze on those bloated, self-serving manufacturers of preservative-riddled, tooth-rotting, chemical-infused beverages in non-recyclable packaging by refusing to buy their products. By buying natural and local, making responsible and informed choices and supporting small business, consumers can make a huge difference. Because didn’t someone important once say the meek shall inherit the earth?
After all, look what happened to Goliath.