Hi Dan ~
I have the sense that we're closing a circle.
Brenda Platt asked a really insightful question at a meeting ten years
ago or so. She asked what could be done to prevent EPR taking the form of
vertical-integration. You can see the potential: producers set up captive
companies to control the supply of their discards. We saw it with Lexmark
in US. We see it today with Encorp Pacific here in BC.
A Canadian analyst in Ontario, Usman Valiante, has written about how EPR
is giving rise to monopolistic/monopsonistic companies, which is arguably
less healthy than the free market competition for discards. If you
haven't read Usmans's stuff on used oil, tires, etc. I'll try to find
What we're starting to work on here in BC, now that we have EPR
legislation in place, is to find tools that local governments and others
can use to encourage the emergence of companies in local communities that
can provide creative responses to the opportunity offered by EPR. There's
going to be an interesting session at the Recycling Council's conference
next week on this topic. I'll be attending with Paul and I'll report
That's why it's so heart-breaking when elected officials listen to their
staff, who are vested in wasting, rather than listening to local
businesses who could grow the tax base by offering alternatives.
At 12:43 PM 6/20/2008, Dan Knapp wrote:
Thanks for the announcement,
Congratulations! This will be a wonderful test of the Product
Policy Institute's overall theory of how to get to Zero Waste. Good
luck to you as you try to slay the incinerator dragon(s) using EPR as
We recyclers beat our incinerator in 1982 by going to the voters with an
initiative and the slogan "Give Recycling a Chance!" I
know from Australian and New Zealand experience that parliamentary
systems have nothing comparable to the voter initiative. Probably
Canada is similar. It's too bad, because you can use the voter
initiative to bypass elected officials and make law directly. We do
it all the time here in California.
Even the threat of an initiative can make law. That's how
Berkeley's zero waste ordinance was passed. A Zero Waste Initiative
had been written and was getting ready for launch, but the Mayor and
Council heard about it and passed it on the consent calendar at a regular
City Council meeting.
On the other hand, you can pitch the issue as resource conservation
versus resource destruction. We did that to great effect here, as
our slogan implies, and we helped the public defeat at least 8 more
incinerators in the Bay Area during the 1980's. Materials recovery
enterprises led the fight against the incinerator in Berkeley; we said it
was unfair competition for the discard supply that we wanted access to in
order to grow our businesses. We said the huge upfront capital cost
would force limits on us, and might even compel government to put us out
of business so they could keep the incinerator going to pay off the
Sure enough, when the voters said no to the incinerator option, all sorts
of recycling businesses grew and proliferated and differentiated into an
interlocking industry of niche operators that is currently very powerful
and a major employer.
The Product Policy Institute's view of recycling as a subtle way to
enable wasting might get you in logical trouble here.
In my humble opinion, after Annie and Paul depart you need to ask some
experienced large-volume hands-on recyclers to come in and make the case
that clean reuse, recycling, and composting is the conservative course
for Vancouver to follow, not wasting by burning.
Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling business since 1980
On Jun 19, 2008, at 4:17 PM, Helen Spiegelman wrote:
metro Vancouver has been quietly putting the pieces in place to build as
shiny new incinerators here.... but help is at hand.
The stars have aligned to bring both Annie Leonard and Paul
Connett to our town next week. We are looking forward to a keynote
address by Annie at the Recycling Council of BC's annual conference and
no less than three public appearances by the tireless Connett, one
downwind, one in a host community, and one right in downtown