How a change in lifestyle has changed my thinking.
For more than 100 consecutive mornings, I have listened to our cenotaph clock chime 10, as I stand on the lower front step of our historic Court House on Queen Street.
Patiently and optimistically I wait for locals and tourists to show up for my NOTL Free Walking Tour.
But the most striking thing about my new daily routine has been watching in awe as the noisy, gear-grinding recycling trucks go about their business.
We live in a wee town. How can we possibly create so much corrugated cardboard to be recycled, almost every day of the week?
The big trucks go this way, they go that way.
South on King Street, west on Johnson, north on Regent, east on Prideaux, south on King, west on Queen. Their route map has them avoiding left turns, which are both dangerous and time-consuming. So many broken-down cardboard boxes, and other recyclable items.
I have had corrugated cardboard in my veins since 1965, some fifty-eight years ago.
That summer, I spent every Saturday in Brantford, working with some rowing buddies from Port Dalhousie at RH Packers. It was a small company owned by Reg Holmes, the father of Paddy Holmes, who rowed bow seat in our St. Catharines Rowing Club’s Junior 145-pound.
We broke down cardboard boxes, endless amounts of cardboard boxes, and took them to the local landfill.
Looking back, I guess I was part of the very early days of recycling. Throw in the scrap steel dealers who my dad worked with to buy raw materials for Atlas Specialty Steels in Welland and society was on its way to being responsible and worrying about our environment.
Old cars, old railway tracks, you name it, they melted it down and used it.
Perhaps because of this early experience with corrugated cardboard, I have spent way too much time thinking about the number of boxes used daily and the conscientious efforts our society takes to dispose of this necessary bit of our lives.
Think about how we depend on this product, NOTLers. Want to order a take out pizza? Why do most pizza meisters use corrugated for their deliveries? Because the waves of the corrugated paper enable warm air to pass below the pizza, ensuring longer heat retention. Betcha didn’t know that.
Ever wonder why Domino’s uses square boxes to deliver their round pizzas? It’s because the six-sided box design, with tapered front edges, reduces the amount of cardboard used, thereby limiting the company’s carbon footprint.
Also, this keeps the pizza from sliding around in the box. And, square boxes stack easier. Makes sense, eh?
Now let’s ramble over to a natural winger of pizza. Yes, beer.
Often I have wondered how 24 heavy bottles of lager can be transported in a simple cardboard box. Taking this worry to the extreme, I spent some time on the internet and learned that a triple wall corrugated box can hold 245 pounds of product. So, our Oast House Barnraiser is safe.
I recently had an enlightening telephone conversation with Allen Kirkpatrick of the Canadian Corrugated and Containerboard Association.
He is an industry veteran, passionate about the product and proud of the fact corrugated is more environmentally friendly than ever. It is possible to accept non-toxic water based inks, which can be processed without bleaching.
After being recycled, it is used to make chipboard, paperboard (cereal boxes,) paper towels, tissues, and printing and writing paper. A complete circle of recycling.
The vast majority of corrugated cardboard is diverted from landfills and recycled instead. It degrades completely within one year.
Compare this to the environmental disaster of plastics.
I do my best to make accurate statements, backed up by accurate research. I do not purport to be an academic, presenting scholarly research.
But this is what I understand. Between 2004 and 2016, there has been a 50 per cent decrease in paper recycled into landfill.
Concurrently, plastic into landfill has doubled. Only 10 per cent of plastic is recycled.
And wait for this enlightening stat – corrugated cardboard has been banned at landfill sites.
So, wave to the hardworking people working on the big recycling trucks. Yell “Way to
go” to them. They work hard in all types of weather, often on slippery, snowy and icy streets.
Give them a wide berth and, at Christmas time, perhaps a gracious gratuity.
Right here in Canada, corrugated cardboard is produced in every province. You might wonder, “How much?
Each and every day in our home and native land, more than 21 million cardboard boxes are shipped by producers. Almost all of it is eventually recycled.
And, that’s amazing. Our pretty town of NOTL – and NOTLers – are so fortunate.