EPR-as-vertical integration means to me that a company sets up a system for their specific product at end-of-life (e.g. HP reclaims it's own toner cartridges for reuse). That doesn't sound like a bad thing, and I'm not seeing how it's a monopoly. Could you explain?
On Jun 20, 2008, at 3:31 PM, Helen Spiegelman wrote:
Hi Dan ~
I have the sense that we're closing a circle.
Brenda Platt asked a really insightful question at a meeting ten years ago or so. She asked what could be done to prevent EPR taking the form of vertical-integration. You can see the potential: producers set up captive companies to control the supply of their discards. We saw it with Lexmark in US. We see it today with Encorp Pacific here in BC.
A Canadian analyst in Ontario, Usman Valiante, has written about how EPR is giving rise to monopolistic/monopsonistic companies, which is arguably less healthy than the free market competition for discards. If you haven't read Usmans's stuff on used oil, tires, etc. I'll try to find weblinks.
What we're starting to work on here in BC, now that we have EPR legislation in place, is to find tools that local governments and others can use to encourage the emergence of companies in local communities that can provide creative responses to the opportunity offered by EPR. There's going to be an interesting session at the Recycling Council's conference next week on this topic. I'll be attending with Paul and I'll report back.
That's why it's so heart-breaking when elected officials listen to their staff, who are vested in wasting, rather than listening to local businesses who could grow the tax base by offering alternatives.
At 12:43 PM 6/20/2008, Dan Knapp wrote:
Thanks for the announcement, Helen:
Congratulations! This will be a wonderful test of the Product Policy Institute's overall theory of how to get to Zero Waste. Good luck to you as you try to slay the incinerator dragon(s) using EPR as your sword.
We recyclers beat our incinerator in 1982 by going to the voters with an initiative and the slogan "Give Recycling a Chance!" I know from Australian and New Zealand experience that parliamentary systems have nothing comparable to the voter initiative. Probably Canada is similar. It's too bad, because you can use the voter initiative to bypass elected officials and make law directly. We do it all the time here in California.
Even the threat of an initiative can make law. That's how Berkeley's zero waste ordinance was passed. A Zero Waste Initiative had been written and was getting ready for launch, but the Mayor and Council heard about it and passed it on the consent calendar at a regular City Council meeting.
On the other hand, you can pitch the issue as resource conservation versus resource destruction. We did that to great effect here, as our slogan implies, and we helped the public defeat at least 8 more incinerators in the Bay Area during the 1980's. Materials recovery enterprises led the fight against the incinerator in Berkeley; we said it was unfair competition for the discard supply that we wanted access to in order to grow our businesses. We said the huge upfront capital cost would force limits on us, and might even compel government to put us out of business so they could keep the incinerator going to pay off the financing.
Sure enough, when the voters said no to the incinerator option, all sorts of recycling businesses grew and proliferated and differentiated into an interlocking industry of niche operators that is currently very powerful and a major employer.
The Product Policy Institute's view of recycling as a subtle way to enable wasting might get you in logical trouble here.
In my humble opinion, after Annie and Paul depart you need to ask some experienced large-volume hands-on recyclers to come in and make the case that clean reuse, recycling, and composting is the conservative course for Vancouver to follow, not wasting by burning.
Urban Ore, Inc., a reuse and recycling business since 1980