Inherent Real Cost Subsidy of Landfills in Consumer Products – Business Recycling Discussion

When it comes to businesses recycling it is my belief that they should do it for two reasons; one, because it makes sense financially to waste less and thus, it’s more efficient to recycle, and; two, because it’s the right thing to do. Personally, it is my view that if we want more businesses to recycle we need to show them how they can profit by doing so. Show them the dollars and sense to it, and they are sure to partake.

Others believe that we need to penalize companies that don’t recycle and thus, build in the incentive to recycle, and not long ago, I was debating this with an acquaintance who believed in the penalty based motivation to the virtues of business recycling. Now then, who is right about all this? Well, one could argue that I am on the wrong side of this debate, but as a business owner, I do not agree to excessive penalties.

In fact, I already pay an extra fee for recycling, and the trash pick-up costs me more, plus, I pay a CRV on products I often buy. Okay so, one could argue and many have from the Technocrat Crowd on down to socialist leaning professors who teach engineering that penalties or increased fees are the only way to get all businesses to recycle. Most PhD professors of engineering and energy lean towards lean-manufacturing, thus it is an obvious insight for them – there is real cost inherent in all products produced due to the end-of-life-cycle, that is to say; the cost of the landfill, or the cost to recycle or a combination thereof.

EU countries have a one-time cost when you buy your automobile, it’s about $300-500 now (it’s been rising) that you pay upfront with your car to handle the cost when you sell your car. Then refuse and recycling companies can collect that $300 to 500 for dismantling and recycling the pieces. Car makers can lower that add-on cost by making their cars out of materials that are easily recycled, thus, they have an advantage in the market place. I am not one to ever go and straight away copy anything that Europe does, but it might be a component of a plan we might consider here.

The only problem with this EOL (end of life) program is that more and more costs get tacked on, with so many rules and regulations that it turns into a giant bureaucratic mess, administratively speaking that is. And like the EU cap and trade program, it’s fraught with manipulation between regulators, politicians, and crony capitalism there.

In a way you can see that CA has done something similar with the CRV but then we see it isn’t really intrinsically fair to consumers because everyone is recycling their plastic bottles now in their recycle bin, and some cities (like San Francisco) will fine you if you don’t recycle them, and yet, you’ve paid $.08 per plastic bottle in advance, so you pay twice, and someone has the contract to make all that money when it really belongs back to the consumer.

So, it becomes an add-on tax, now CA wants to charge more money when people buy Soft Drinks and then use that money to educate kids on nutrition in the classroom so they don’t buy the Soda Pop or drink it in moderation, this will also subsidize the California Schools about $300 per student, but just as the government regulators taxed tobacco for awareness programs in the 90s they were sued by the companies because the government absconded with the funds rather than actually spending that add-on tax cigarette tax money on the programs it was to be allotted for.

There are so many “well-intentioned” programs created, but the law of unintended consequences is so common and packed with case studies, I cringe on government intervention, and really this is much about personal responsibility right? I mean that should be the aim. This is why it ought to be run by the private sector, and awareness needs to come from within.

Perhaps you are an environmental, Earth-Day, or Buddhist type thinker, well then you understand that everything goes back eventually, everything gets recycled, it is just that some things take longer to decompose and therein is the short-term (human time-scale) challenge. Radioactive material decays and is recycled, same with glass, strong polymer chains of plastic, and other things, only they just take longer to get back to nature you see.

Perhaps for all these reasons, I distance myself from environmental groups, and find far too many running around with unviable solutions making things worse or even impossible, thus hurting more people, raising costs, and destroying our Nation’s standard of living and quality of life. Solutions MUST be sound, make sense, and without unintended consequences down the road, or they aren’t solutions at all. So, please consider all this.