I've got a solution to the recycling problem. Pass a law that says that every company has to accept back any products they provide, when they reach end-of-life. So, for example, retailers would have to accept packaging waste back from customers, and the wholesaler that sold them the product would have to accept it back from them. Internalizing the cost of dealing with waste would motivate companies to make less disposable stuff, and find ways to make it easier to recycle:

@strypey Looking around my office...

I have literally no idea where most of these things came from.

As a business, I'm not taking back your waste unless you show a receipt. Why should I?

Like so many other failed recycling schemes, this one fails at usability, dumping a shit ton of extra cognitive load on the average joe. Even people who care will be hard pressed to get it right - and most people won't care.


If there was some extra deposit money being charged (which goes to a government fund, not to the vendor), similar to how this works for beer and cola bottles, then people would be incentivized to save the receipts and bring the products back to a collection point for recycling, getting their money back.


@humanetech @strypey It's still way overcomplicated.

The only reason people like this sort of scheme, is because they want to punish businesses.

But I agree that paying people for garbage is the only way this gets fixed. Any plan suggesting otherwise is basically a plan suggesting everyone who is struggling to get by, suddenly start to care more about rubbish than they care about their own survival. Not gonna happen.


Don't know if it is overcomplicated, or just more complicated. Regulation and processing infrastructure is needed.

If you want to raise awareness on sustainability (quality, durability, repairability, recycling/upcycling, etc.) you could differentiate deposit amount paid and refunded. You could fund this from the system itself and create jobs in the process.

But limits competitiveness, and is actively lobbied against. Should be widely adopted to work. #capitalism sigh 😩


@humanetech @strypey I meant the original post, putting the burden of collection on the retailers, is overcomplicated.

Rereading, I have nothing against a scheme where collection points hand out money in exchange for well sorted rubbish. That has been proven to work, just needs funding.

Funding from the system itself ultimately means the consumer pays. So you make food for poor people more expensive if you're not very careful.

This sort of thing should mostly come from normal taxes.

@HerraBRE guess who disproportionately pays normal taxes? Poor people, especially in countries like Aotearoa (NZ) that have #GST (Goods and Service Tax), and don't have fair taxes on wealth and business, capital gains, inheritance etc. What funding waste management from normal taxes *doesn't* do is allow customers to get their food cheaper by buying it from companies with more eco-friendly packaging, sending a cumulative market signal to the companies that don't.

@strypey @humanetech If the poor are disproportionally paying, that's not what I'd call normal taxes. To clarify, I meant income tax and capital gains, which are proportional to income and this share the burdens more fairly. Smaller tax incentives may indeed help nudge the market in more environmentally friendly directions, but the poor will foot the bill, so be careful.

@HerraBRE what kind of tax regime is "normal" depends totally on where you live ;) Outside of a few Scandinavian countries, I believe the #NeoLiberal tax regime I describe is currently "normal taxes" in most places. I'd love to learn that I'm wrong about that, because it sucks.

> the poor will foot the bill

How? They can just keep buying the cheapest products available, but their custom will mostly shift to companies with eco-friendly packaging, durable, repairable products etc.


@strypey You just complained about sales taxes and how they hurt the poor and spare the rich, which is exactly right.

How can you then fail to see that adding the cost of waste management to the products themselves is the exact same thing, with the same dynamics?

This is fuzzy wishful thinking, advocating this is quite literally doing the neoliberals' work for them. Which given your tone, seems like something you'd prefer to avoid?

@strypey But just to clarify my position on this - I do think it would be useful to use some form of incentive so eco-friendly products have a competitive advantage. We should do that.

But I believe there are better ways to achieve that and fund this sort of thing.

You're proposing very radical changes to how retail works, why not also be radical about mostly funding it using a sane progressive tax scheme?

@HerraBRE I totally support a move (back) to a progressive tax system. I've been fighting a rearguard action against the 1980s neoliberal coup for most of my life. But this is orthogonal to what I'm proposing, because as I've said, I don't think the public should be paying to deal with waste problems that profit-making businesses create. Business should pay those costs, and if they pass those costs onto customers, good! That just gives eco-friendly businesses a leg up that they desperately need.

@strypey Fair enough. That's pretty much what I figured was driving you.

I fundamentally disagree with the whole us vs. them attitude lefties have towards businesses.

I don't see how businesses paying results in anything BUT the buck getting passed to the people, either in the form of lower pay, less jobs or more expensive products. And the "bad" businesses who deserve to be "punished" are the ones who pass the buck most effectively.

We're just going to have to agree to disagree here. 🙂

@HerraBRE @strypey I think that there is a lot that can be done to right the situation before we even get to complicated regulation or taxation regimes to "de-externalize" the costs avoided by mass manufacturing (like NZ, Canada has a regressive, complex GST so complexity isn't always a barrier to implementing something).

We already have very elaborate carbon emissions reporting and a "price on carbon" (the numbers of which are just estimates anyways but we still do it)...

@HerraBRE @strypey ...we already track production and sales of electronics and other manufactured goods more closely than carbon emissions, and it wouldn't be any more complicated to track who made what was returned for recycling.

We don't have to force manufacturers to accept obsolete and broken goods back directly but we CAN qualify a "price on disposal" just as we have a "price on carbon" which would make planned obsolescence less economically viable for them...


@HerraBRE @strypey ...externalizing costs is something that is often overlooked in general and when the ability to do so is reduced the beneficiaries of it say "but then everything gets more expensive because we have to pass the costs on to our customers". But they already to that.

Amazon and many other retailers for example pays such low wages and hire so many temp and part timers (to reduce obligations to pay benefits) that their employees have to rely on social assistance to live...

@HerraBRE @strypey ...so instead of customers paying more for shipping and handling at checkout, we all pay (not just poor people but even them) through taxation to fund social programmes more than we would otherwise.

Again, policies could be enacted to quantify "social costs" though already established payroll deduction reporting to determine how much assistance is provided to the workforces of various big employers.

This kind of shift is achievable though it will take time and effort.

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