[GRRN] Minimum Content

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Sun, 11 Apr 1999 13:36:39 -0500

Bill McGowen indicated that he didn't see a connection between newsprint
minimim content legislation to the increase in de-inking capacity, with
reference to the mid to late 1980's.

I should have time-marked my comment. My reference was to the period
in the first half of the 1990's not the previous decade, because that when
the content mandates were enacted. What we did see in that period was the
easily expected collapse of ONP prices in 1991 as curbside programs ramped
up supply with programs that largely exploded following 1989, while new
de-inking capacity takes 2-4 years from conception to operation. And, as I
mentioned, in that period, an unparalleled $2 billion of new deinking
capacity was installed (which I feel would never have happened to anywhere
near that extent absent those mandates). This is further buttressed by the
fact that those new investments abruptly came to a crashing halt
immediately after the November 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.

That is not to say that mandates are the only way. In the same era,
the Northeast Recycling Council used the spector of mandates to win firm
"voluntary" commitments from industry to use more content. But, had we
waited for a pure market response, it is very likely we would never have
broken out of the chicken-and-egg quandary (in which new collection
programs await the creation of new markets and new markets wait on new
collection). True, with enough political will, the proliferation of
programs could have continued, each one paying markets $10/ton to get rid
of their paper (which is 2/3 their output), but that would not, obviously,
been sustainable for very long.


ps. I'll defer rising to the challenge on youth attitudes. I never
anticipated the whirlwind that study was going to unleash.