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Re: [greenyes] EPR

At 10:09 AM 2/18/2004, CUYLER Alex D wrote:

the recent report from the Northwest Product
Stewardship Council that appears fairly damning of industry led efforts to
actually get their e-waste back from computer consumers

I read this interesting report, which tests the convenience and cost of five different "manufacturer take-back" programs that are provided to consumers (as opposed to business clients).

These programs are worth testing, the report says because they:

"have often been presented [by the industry] as evidence that manufacturers are 'doing their part' and are taking responsibility for their products. Manufacturer representatives have stated that the problem is that the public just isn't motivated to use these services.

The report's conclusions are indeed "damning" of the existing programs, saying that the local programs provided by the county or by private local recyclers. One of the recommendations in the report is: To develop effective manufacturer take-back programs, manufacturers may need to finance 'brick and mortar' recycling drop locations by partnering with local retailers, businesses, charities and government services.

It doesn't seem like rocket science that it should be as easy to recycle an old computer as it is to buy a new one, and that a diversity of return options is as beneficial as a diversity of retail options. Internet-based, Big-Box/low-overhead, low-service, and Boutique/enhanced service for those who can afford it -- all these have a place in the diversified marketplace.

The only exception -- of course -- is that I think "government services" have no place on the list. I count on government to set and enforce the rules. Leave the reverse-retail to the market.

One reason we had a crisis in the recycling industry in the early 1990s is that private recyclers were UNABLE TO COMPETE when cities started collecting large quantities of paper, glass etc. using tax subsidies to cover their costs. This created a glut of materials on the market, bringing prices lower. How could a private sector, market recycling industry be sustained?

We need to get government -- however well-intentioned -- out of the way of industry. Let the government be the tough referee and the industry make the plays.


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