Gabe Paul, a longtime New York Yankees’ executive had a saying that was famous among baseball people:
"You can't look at the hole in the doughnut. You've got to look at the whole doughnut.”
What Paul was trying to convey with this maxim was that you can’t look at an issue that is just in front of you but you had to look at all the factors surrounding the problem.
Take Norm Miller’s recent actions in the legislature. The Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP is pushing forward his private members’ bill, Reducing Waste One Pod at a Time Act, designed to keep plastic single-use coffee pods out of a landfill by requiring all coffee pods sold in Ontario to be compostable.
According to the MPP, there are presently one-and-a-half billion single-use coffee pods that go into Canadian landfills each year. While recyclable options are available, recycling them requires taking the pod apart and cleaning it out, something many consumers who use coffee pods for the convenience, won’t bother to do.
While some companies, including Loblaw, McDonald’s and Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co., sell java in compostable Keurig-style pods, the majority of pods sold in Ontario are made elsewhere and are not recyclable or compostable, Miller said.
Miller cited compostable pods, developed by Toronto-based Club Coffee with the University of Guelph’s bioproducts development centre, as a model for the rest of the fast-growing, single-serve coffee industry.
Miller is facing an uphill battle with his crusade, as private members’ bills are rarely passed. However, if he is successful, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in North America to require compostable coffee pods.
Now some think this is a fine and upstanding effort by our provincial representative; others may not take this matter quite as seriously. The latter way of thinking would be unfortunate.
Like Paul’s hypothetical doughnut, Miller’s message isn’t just about coffee pods, it is about protecting the environment. It may be a small action moving forward, but it is a positive one nevertheless.