This exposé of a misguided recycling program falls somewhat short because of its loosely organized content.
Environmental and energy lawyer David McRobert sets out to establish a connection between the Ontario, Canada “Blue Box” recycling program and the soft drink industry. He claims that many of the program’s environmental benefits “are illusory and exaggerated” and that “the real benefactors of the Blue Box system are the soft drink companies who lobbied hard to get it established.” McRobert presents a case study, extracted from a 1994 thesis he wrote, that traces the history of the Blue Box program and assesses its environmental and health impacts. The thesis highlights appropriate facts and figures and reaches a legitimate conclusion, but stylistically, it is more scholarly than reader friendly. An extended bibliography (“References and Materials”) included with the case study consumes as many pages as the thesis text itself. The remainder of the book consists of five essays dated February and March 2012 (which unintentionally draws attention to the fact that the author’s thesis is over fifteen years old) and more than 100 pages of appendices. The essays, written by McRobert and Tyler F. M. Edwards, are opinion pieces about the unhealthy consumption of soft drinks and the negative impact soft drink manufacturers have on the environment. One essay, for example, refers to Coca-Cola’s use of animated polar bears in its advertising. McRobert and Edwards suggest that the company’s reliance on aluminum cans, “an incredibly wasteful and energy inefficient form of packaging,” does more harm to polar bears than good because it helps increase greenhouse gas emissions that “melt the Arctic ice sheets.” The author’s views on environmental and health issues demonstrate a valid concern, yet this work is hampered by its patchwork organization. The material seems to have been somewhat haphazardly assembled rather than carefully curated. The reader quite possibly could become lost in the potpourri of prose and, as a result, might miss the importance of McRobert’s central message.
While the book suffers from a lack of well-blended content, the author’s premise that a government/industry collaboration can be harmful to consumers’ health is a worthy argument deserving of attention.