[GRRN] Refillables

Roger M. Guttentag (rgutten@concentric.net)
Thu, 20 May 1999 10:04:45 -0400

Dear GY:

I read with great interest the recent messages to this list on the issue
of refillable containers, particularly those authored by Larry Martin and
Bill Carter. I think we can all agree that the current business
environment is very hostile to the use of refillable containers. I also
agree with Martin's sentiment that using some type of regulatory /
command and control approach to force the use of refillables is
unappealing. We need to take a hard look at this issue and ask tough
questions such as:

1. Is the business environment really unfairly stacked against
refillable beverage containers or are they fundamentally uncompetitive
because of technical / economic reasons?

2. Are we pushing on a string by focusing on refillable beverage
containers? Would perhaps other types of refillable containers have a
better competitive opportunity in the marketplace?

3. On the broadest level, is there a competitive opportunity for any kind
of reverse logistical system that depends on the consumer's participation
and cooperation?

If there is to be any effective campaign on behalf of refillables (or any
kind of reusable packaging / products) then we need to define what the
relevant questions are and then try to get them answered. Once we know
what questions need to be investigated, my thought is that there are
hundreds of university graduate programs (engineering, business, etc.)
that could be potentially involved through the use of student research
teams at a modest cost.

Maybe there is a way we could also harnass in support of refillables the
natural inclination of people to compete for almost anything. For
example, let's offer a prize (let's make it interesting at, say, $100K -
$250K) to the first organization of any type who develops a refillable
packaging system system for a consumer mass market product that gets
successfully implemented in an area no smaller than a Metropolitan
Statistical Area and operates without the need for subsidies or
regulatory coercion for at least one year.


Roger M. Guttentag


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

May / June 1999 topic : Electronic Product Discards