With the death of the Canadian penny February 4, an earlier announcement from Home caught my eye. I had predicted we would see a shrewd retailer take advantage of the nation’s new round-up, round-down law by always rounding down to the customer’s benefit. Sure enough, well-timed and precise, Home’s decision to round down the checkout price and let the buyer keep the few forsaken pennies as a reward garnered some nice headlines for the company.
Are the two moves by Home related? I’ll never know. Certainly the company would need to find savings to finance the rounding down. This is a corporation, after all, with shareholders looking for returns. Home isn’t about to give those pennies away. Could it be that recycling was branded to be outside of Home’s core business interests and too costly to maintain in light of the penny round-down promotion, which one assumes will extend through to eternity?
What’s going to bring more people into my store – price, or a labour-intensive depot system for selected household hazardous waste items? Will the latter produce larger light bulb and paint sales? Can we afford to say 'goodbye'? Before killing an environmental program it had backed for six years, no doubt these were the kinds of questions being bounced around Home Depot’s executive boardroom. It’s not the kind of news that goes down well with green groups.
Fortunately, in Toronto, we have collection sites and annual events across the city for safely disposing light bulbs and other toxic products, such as used batteries, leftover paint, solvents, cosmetics and medications, to name a few.
Quite possibly the twin decisions Home Depot made – to round down the pennies and wind up the in-store CFL/paint recycling collection – are entirely unrelated. Could it be from the bean counter’s view that for this retail hardware chain, helping customers recycle to lessen landfill and litter, no longer made ‘cents.’?
I’d like to see big box stores run campaigns inviting customers to unwrap their purchases prior to leaving the store. Then all this stuff can be recycled and the chance of product packaging littering parking lots, a common sight, is greatly reduced.
In Ontario, by law, large commercial and institutional entities are required to have on-site recycling containers for the various streams of waste.* Customers purchasing from Home and other big boxers should take full advantage. You’ve got the toaster – do you really need the box, plastic, twist ties and foam chips? Let your friendly superstore handle them for you responsibly. That’s a smart alternative to littering and dumping.
* Regulation 103, Environmental Protection Act, 1994