Re: Refillable Bottles & home collection -Reply -Reply

carol (
Sun, 6 Jun 1999 21:52:05 -0400

Note, this isn't about refillables per se.

Bill Carter wrote:>

> reasons why it is not likely to be embraced by most of the
> affected parties in the near term and why it may not be the most efficient
> solution to the challenge.

What reasons?

> As I understand it now, you are proposing what is called a "producer
> responsibility" system, involving home collection of goods and materials,
> together with a surcharge on products and packaging that fail to be
> recovered in that home collection system. Who would be responsible for
> making the home collection system "accessible" for all products &
> packaging? I don't think municipal solid waste authorities could fairly
> asked to take that responsibility. Would it not be up to the producers to
> design a collection system that would work for them? How would they

I don't see why it is "unfair" to ask city solid waste to do its job in the
21st century where we are arguing this topic over billions of dollars
worth of hardware and software. Once the materials are concentrated
I believe that uses will be found for it. If not, the costs return to the
producer. That gives the producer an incentive to incorporate the whole
range of green objectives in its mfg processes: non-toxic materials,
repairables, modularity, etc.

No, I don't see producers designing the system because that involves a
plethora of incompatible options. Since cities began, waste collection has
always been a centralized affair, a matter of gov't stewardship. At one
in European history, it seemed absurd for gov't to collect night soil
Indian cities had had centralized sewage collection since our Stone Age).

> coordinate this design and work out a fair sharing of its cost? At what
> level would the surcharges be applied -- basic materials manufacture,
> finished goods, retail sale? How detailed would the waste sampling &
> analysis be to assign the surcharges to specific materials and product
> categories? Who would administer it?

This type of charge could be applied at every level, since
pollution and waste generation occur at every level and have to be
monitored and cleaned up. I gather you are now proposing that
costs be assigned based on the company's own internal
figures, which may make more sense than waste sampling.
City/regional solid waste does the work. The gov't (which has plenty
of experience) handles charging back the costs.

Taxes are also charged at each level of production and sale, so this
is nothing new.

> Most producer responsibility proposals, which are facing a stiff uphill
> battle and little progress, meet the producer halfway by requiring only
> that the products/packaging be accepted back at central locations,
> usually points of sale. Producers argue that take-back mandates would
> be excessively costly -- an all-purpose home collection system would be
> several times more costly.

Take-back is exactly the type of diffuse system that gets expensive.
Recycling has to be as massively organized as production in order to
have the same economies of scale. At least, that seems logical to me.