Re: Producer Take-Backs and Zero Waste
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:22:25 -0500

Bill and Jeffrey -

Isn't the German Green Dot system one example of the producer taking back
the product? It has shown that it can be provided by curbside pickup, and
while there are problems in allocating the costs back to the individual
producer, this seems to be the goal. And, if I understand the situation
correctly, aren't other European countries moving this same direction? (We
really need to send a whole bunch of recycling types to Europe to see
and learn from what they're doing. For example, while we have a horrendous
problem with broken, mixed color glass from curbside collection, Europe
collects most of its glass from dropoffs, avoiding this problem. Anyone
know of a pot of money?)


> Subject: Re: Producer Take-Backs and Zero Waste

> [Forwarded from Jeffrey Morris (]
> Just a few comments on the idea of producer take backs.
> I think it's a great idea for durables and other rather unique and rather
> big items that might get thrown away. But for non-durables, I'm not
> so sure that's it's better than universal curbside collection.
> First of all there's the problem of different take back/recovery costs in
> different parts of the country, leading to some pricing problems for
> national scale producers of things like newsprint, packaging, and
> paper products.
> Second, until we eliminate garbage collection at the house and the
> business, there's the problem of convenience - the take back system
> has to be as convenient as the disposal system.
> Third, there's the problem of getting all those different producers of
> different products to cooperate on a collection system. If they default
> to drop sites, then we've got the problem of less convenience than
> garbage collection, plus the lack of a mass transit system for
> reusables/recyclables - i.e, no matter how convenient the drop site
> location, there will be some single purpose, single occupant car trips
> to the drop site and many small detours to stop at the drop site by
> drivers on their way somewhere else. I'd be very surprised if the net
> transportation impact of producer take-back for non-durables wasn't
> worse than universal curbside collection of the type available now in
> many places.
> Finally, there's the regulatory nightmare of checking to be sure that
> producers of non-durables (remember this is millions of products)
> have actually included disposal costs in their product price and/or
> that they've actually got an effective system in place to take all that
> stuff back. Maybe there's a scheme for getting producers to
> implement take-back that doesn't involve regulatory oversight, but if
> there is, one has to wonder why it hasn't appeared on its own yet.
> So that's a thought or two from the skeptical point of view on non-
> durables manufacturers responsibility. By the way, with respect to
> the Zero Waste mantra, we've been saying in our brochure that we
> give to businesses when we're working with them on their waste
> reduction/prevention, reuse and recycling systems that zero waste is
> a goal not just a dream. After all, would you go to a doctor whose
> goal was only to cure 50% of his or her patients? I look forward to the
> meetings of the grass roots group at NRC. Sorry our budget didn't let
> me get to the June 16 meeting. Thanks to all of you who've been
> putting so much effort into this. Something sure needs to get us onto
> the next level before all those recycling bashers with their big media
> access stop a great thing dead in its tracks.
> Jeffrey Morris (