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Re: [GreenYes] 'Producer Responsibility' and Consumer Cost
At 04:09 PM 12/13/2001 -0500, wrote:
>(snip) producer responsibility won't work because even if the
>producers are made "responsible" for making sure the products and materials
>they produce are recycled or reused, the costs associated with this will be
>passed on guessed it....the consumers.  We are footing the bill
>already so why bother?

John is demonstrating a habit of thought that proves the degree to which we 
have become a 'consumer society'. John, the taxpayer is footing the bill 
(municipal collection, landfills, recycling...) not the consumer. They are 
*not* the same person. If the cost were passed on to the consumer it would 
be part of the purchase price and included as a service by the producer 
(much like, say, a warrantee?). Instead, the cost is passed on to the local 
community, what economists call an 'externality' or let's say a subsidy. 
The local community where the product is consumed underwrites the cost of 
figuring out what to do with it -- a cost that is never reflected in the 
price of the product. Hence, consumers (and producers) have enjoyed a free 
ride at the expense of taxpayers (not to mention Mother Nature).

What producer responsibility does is to include the cost of recycling 
within the purchase price of the product (or perhaps in some cases absorb 
it in the profit margin). Of course the consumer pays in the long run: 
would you expect anyone else to? After all, the cost of advertising is 
built into the price of the product. So is the cost of shipping it from the 
plant to the warehouse and the warehouse to the store. The point of 
producer responsibility is that the post-consumer management of the product 
should be part of the price and the marketing plan of the product when it 
is introduced into the marketplace.

When we begin to recognize the many ways that we as *citizens* are 
subsidizing and encouraging profligate habits in ourselves as *consumers*, 
we will begin to unravel the consumer society. When the responsibility 
(including cost and, more importantly, cost-avoidance through redesign for 
recycling/reuse) returns where it belongs, we will see a shift in thinking 
among those manufacturers who at the moment have no reason to care if #5 is 
recyclable in YOUR town...


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