What to do with a broken wine bottle?

Problem: Ontarians buy a lot of wine and liquor from the government booze store. The glass bottles are recyclable, but they’re different colours, so they have to be sorted first because mixed glass isn’t worth much in the recycling trade. Drinkers tend to throw their bottles into their recycling bins any old way and they all get smashed up together and sometimes the pieces just get landfilled.

Solution 1: Get people to be more careful. Not realistic. How many different bins for glass can one person be expected to keep?


Solution 2: Get the government booze store to take back empties, the way the privately operated Ontario beer-store monopoly does with beer bottles.

REJECTED by the government-run booze store. Too expensive. We don’t do that Why don’t you try the privately operated Ontario beer-store monopoly?

Solution 3: Get the privately operated Ontario beer-store monopoly to take back wine and liquor bottles. We’ll charge a deposit at the government-run booze store, which you can get back if you go to a whole other store that sells something else, which you might or might not drink.


Result: A 58-per-cent return rate. Craziness at the beer store, where people who just want to buy beer compete with bottle-returners for the clerks’ time. Smugness for the government.

Unexpected side-effect: Danger for beer-store workers, who are accustomed to dealing with whole, reusable beer bottles instead of wine and liquor bottles that get taken into beer-store custody, separated by colour and then smashed, possibly throwing glass dust into the air.  Health-and-safety lawsuits doubtless imminent. Government-run booze stores as happy as ever.

It boggles me that Ontario’s retail alcohol industry, which is all ultimately operated by Ontarians’ own government, is run this inefficiently. I expect high prices and indifferent attention to customer trends — I don’t expect the different parts of the system to be at war with each other quite this overtly.


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