Re: [GRRN] French waste policies

Eric Lombardi (
Tue, 08 Jun 1999 09:20:21 -0600

Roger and GreenYes folks,

First, thank you Roger for the reference to French waste

policies. I have now bookmarked that Lycos Enviro Service.

Second, I'd like to encourage everyone to share stories and

examples of progressive waste policies from outside the USA.

I often use "foreign" examples to give an idea credibility,

and audiences sit up straighter when they hear about how

Australia, or Finland, is approaching something. The GRRN

Coke campaign used the "Why Not Here" argument effectively

when referring to Coke's recycling activities in other


In 1993-94, a few of us on the NRC Board waged a battle to get

the NRC to endorse the German/French/Canadian approaches to

producer responsibility and minimum content legislation. At this

time in the industry, the markets had been slumped for a couple

of years and the arguments had momentum. But it was a hard fought

battle, and we lost by a vote of 50/50 ... in a Coalition like the

NRC, a split vote is a victory for the status quo. Incredibly,

even with 50% Board support, the issues were put away as "settled",

and as far as I know, the NRC Board has not gone back to reconsider.

My point is to describe the two main reasons we lost: (1) the markets

had started back strong, and eventually developed into the Great Bull

Markets of 1994-95; and (2) the industry reps jumped on improving

markets bandwagon and claimed that they would create a uniquely

American approach to the two issues which wouldn't require a heavy-

handed top-down approach to compliance. Well, you can imagine how well

our counter arguments went over... "The market highs are temporary!"

"Don't believe them! They'll never create a meaningful voluntary

In this culture that loved Reagans "Smile, be happy" approach to life

(I like that too!), we went down but not without a good fight.

Lessons learned through this? First, let us never forget that the

of recycling and other landfill diversion programs is first a social

and second a market issue. And, let us not pretend that friendly

with "the other side" will ever get us a cleaner Earth. It's all power

politics, and thats OK. Let's embrace and enjoy the struggle ... and

do what Saul Alinsky preached so effectively ... "Create a critical

where the sides are clear and a person must choose." This approach isn't

everyone, and thats fine... pressure needs to come from many angles. But

those of us that are tired of seeing all the world's environmental

continue going the wrong way, sucking us down into environmental hell,

past time to create a stronger vision of the future where the "Rules of

Game" have been changed, and if industry doesn't want to do it cleanly,

they won't do it at all. And those entrepreneurs that will play the new

game will win. I believe that after we win the political fight to change

rules, industry will clean up their act cause it is winning and profits
they are

after in the end, not environmental destruction.

America is far behind other nations in "changing the rules of the
game"... and

that is why I ask for stories, and for all of us to start bringing the
rest of the

world "home"... into your towns, and companies, and city councils. If
they can

do it somewhere else, why not here?

Eric Lombardi

EcoCycle, Inc

At 09:49 AM 5/28/99 -0400, Roger M. Guttentag wrote:


<excerpt>Dear listmembers:

There is an interesting article about French waste policies which can be
accessed at the following web address:


Roger M. Guttentag


Read <italic>Recycling in Cyberspace</italic> in Resource Recycling

May / June 1999 topic: Electronic Product Discards

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