Our friends at the Product Policy Institute have a great blog post today by Scott Mouw (sounds like “Ow!”), Recycling Program Manager at the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources. Entitled “Running to Stand Still: Why the Current Municipal Recycling System Can’t Deliver the Goods,” the post points out how government was effective at addressing landfill abatement with recycling, but it has its limits in meeting the needs of a marketplace that is now hungry for recycled materials.
Here is a particularly insightful passage.
“If you were going to design a responsive commodity supply system, why would you rely on decision-makers who appear unmotivated by prices, have competing internal investments and are essentially unrewarded by the marketplace? And why would you set up a system in which the cost of production – in this case, collection of discarded materials – is not remotely covered by system income, even in the best material value scenarios?
“Part of the appeal of extended producer responsibility (EPR) is that it could harness the business acumen of corporate capitalism to improve the commodity supply situation, shifting decision-making from conflicted government agencies to more economically rational actors. It would also inject capital that in turn would improve the overall performance of the system – i.e., collect more materials.”