Thank you for staying with this important conversation, Eric. I offer responses below:
At 10:31 AM 11/19/2008, Eric Lombardi wrote:
With the greatest respect for Helen and all dedicated producer responsibility advocates ? I have waited to respond to this to see what sort of emails might surface from others. Unfortunately, not many?
Helen, I hear you, but I don?t see a 3-Bin World being incompatible with an EPR World. If the industrial designers of the world redesign everything to be either reusable, recyclable or compostable (our goal, ya?), then we?ll still need a discard collection system from homes and businesses.
The challenge, Eric, is that it is unlikely that there will ever be a single "discard collection system" that is capable of dealing with "everything." Theere is so much diversity in "everything." Each thing has particular requirements in handling. The model of "discard collection from homes and businesses" was invented with a homogeneous stream in mind. It works better for homogeneous materials -- paper products, for instance -- but as soon as you start broadening the stream problems begin. The practicalities of managing this diverse stream in a "mass transit" system are unsurmountable. I remain convinced that we need a different model for recovering discards.
Any packaging or product that isn?t Zero Waste compatible would then go into the Landfill Bin, sent through a Residue Process that would then ?identify? the villain and a big tax is slapped on them. If you want to get glass bottles out of the recycling bin and into the refillables box, then go for it!
I'm with you here. How about if we develop a "checklist" of essential policy instruments for Zero Waste - things that a community that adopts a Zero Waste Resolution can do to measure progress towards Zero. The first thing on the list would be disposal bans and economic penalties for wasting recyclable products.
As for refillable glass, this option can't compete against publicly subsidized wasting programs (which in my opinion include recycling as well as landfill disposal: single-use glass has the highest environmental footprint of any beverage package.) We need to withdraw the subsidy for single-use glass by refusing to provide public collection programs. These should be subject to mandatory deposit/refund systems, and the producers who use one-way glass should be required to pay a Pigovian tax reflecting the environmental cost of this choice.
As for the big stuff like e-scrap, appliances, etc etc ? then EPR is much easier there. That stuff doesn?t go in the 3-Bins anyway.
The question will always be: what does go in the 3-Bins? How about empty lipstick tubes? Old running shoes? That electric blanket?
We have a huge job ahead of us chasing after all these pieces of the problem because they, collectively, add up to the Big Stuff. The limits of the 3-Bins looms sooner than we think.
My question to you is that if you don?t like the ?3-Bin with EPR? World, and you don?t like what Germany has created ? then what do you like and has anyone done it yet? Please paint us a picture of how your ideal community deals with discards ?