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dispensing strategies: Turning Up The Heat

Turning Up The Heat


April 1, 2008
By Michelle Brisebois

Topics

As I write this, we have been experiencing some of the warmest weather
recorded for any winter in recent memory. Weather logs confirm that the
15 warmest years on record since 1867 have all happened since 1980 and
statistically, that’s no coincidence.

So, did you golf this past Christmas? More to the point, did you stay in Canada and golf this past Christmas?

As I write this, we have been experiencing some of the warmest weather recorded for any winter in recent memory. Weather logs confirm that the 15 warmest years on record since 1867 have all happened since 1980 and statistically, that’s no coincidence. 

Climate change is considered by many scientists to be the most serious threat facing the world today. The sheer urgency of environmental issues makes it one of the biggest business trends ever to touch every single industry.
The vending industry should take notice because non-biodegradable packaging is a big part of product delivery. It’s not easy being green but there are strong indications that our government is making sustainability a priority and this will most likely translate into new legislation that will change the way we do business.   

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Sustainability is defined as “living within the earth’s limits.” Nature had developed an ideal system where everything (including us) was absorbed back into the earth after its physical existence had ended. As the 20th century dawned, man started creating materials that were strong and didn’t degrade over a natural period of time. Discarded pop cans sit and sit. So do plastic wrappers and other non-biodegradable containers.

In fact, when garbage does decompose, moisture filters through it, producing a toxic liquid known as leachate. Decom-posing garbage also produces greenhouse gases, which trap heat and cause global warming. Landfill sites account for about 38 per cent of Canada’s total methane emissions and methane is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Hurricane Katrina may have been an act of nature but there’s no denying that mankind had a hand in providing ideal conditions to nurture the storm and less than ideal conditions to manage the

consequences. MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel reported in the respected journal Nature that there has been a 50 per cent increase in duration and intensity of storms since the 1970s. Should riverbeds and lakes dry up, water will become a precious commodity – one worth fighting over.

Until now, “going green” has generally been a very expensive proposition for businesses. The vending industry has a pivotal role to play in sustainability because it deals with a multitude of packaging formats. Carol Zweep, manager of Packaging Services Technical Services at the Guelph Food Technology Centre suggests that cost is an issue for those operators wanting to use environmentally friendly packaging.  She believes the best approach is to strive for balance. 

“Operators should look for non-commodity items that can more easily absorb the higher packaging costs,” says Zweep. 

Global warming and congested landfills are, for the most part, fairly abstract ideas for most Canadians. After all, we’re 33 million people living in the world’s second largest country in terms of square kilometres. We’ve got room to spare. Hurricanes aren’t a regular threat, though tornadoes and smog alerts hit closer to home. 

The January 2007 cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Stephen Harper centered on the environment minister’s post. Always adept at identifying where his constituents’ hearts are, and then rushing in front to lead them, Harper has realized that Canadians are starting to make sustainability a priority. 

Zweep believes that the connection for many consumers will be made when more communities start employing a “surcharge for dumping” strategy. 

“Consumers will start to psychologically attach a cost to non-environmentally friendly forms of packaging,” says Zweep. This may begin to make them more receptive to paying a premium for biodegradable packaging. 

Look at your business and identify one product or process that could be made more environmentally friendly.

Consider signage on your machines to identify those products that have recyclable or biodegradable packaging. Place blue boxes near your machines if possible. It’s likely that very soon governments and industry will take a more long-term view and make going green a priority.  Quite frankly, there aren’t any other options.o