In the story “APR wrestles with bottle-bill language” [July 9, Page 3], we learned that the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' board confidentially considered taking a policy position stating: Since “the most effective way to increase the recycling rate has been shown to be through the enactment of state bottle-deposit laws” and since “APR strongly supports any initiatives that will result in an increase in the recycling rate,” APR will push for new government regulation of any kind that will increase recycling.
Send me an APR membership form — I wanna join up!
Yeah, right. Let's get the government to fix our sales problem. To hell with the market. Let's lobby the government to extort consumers into paying more for products our customers sell so [those customers] can buy more expensive products from us. Yes — pass newer and tougher bottle bills so consumers pay more for the bottle tax and so the bottlers, our customers, will have to pay higher prices to us for the bottles we make for them and for other recycled-content products.
“Uhhhh ... giving it due consideration, no. Our customers might not like that,” APR mused. Once news of that brilliance leaked, APR clammed up tighter than a McDonald's clamshell.
What APR geniuses allowed even the initial iteration of such a thought to get into full discussion? Wouldn't you love to be doing business with them?
The problem — theirs and ours — is not with recycling or recycled content. The problem is that plastics industry business people have been so bombarded by decades-long government regulation and taxes that they think more regulation and taxes can help them out of a sales problem which their customers and the market reject.
Government regulators and bureaucrats will love it. After they see they can increase revenues with more and higher taxes on plastics, they'll go for the same gusto on paper and metal.
On the industry side, we'll all enjoy more misery, and the environment will not benefit one whit. Recall the paper industry's ability to coerce government regulators into creating more anti-plastics regulations and costs? Recall that the paper industry's products and processes then also coming under fire?
Ultimately, the marketplace is going to determine the outcome. “Ultimately” is after consumers/ voters become better educated; after consumers/voters become disgusted with what they pay for warm-fuzzy environmentally rationalized increased costs that don't generate an environmental benefit (as opposed to the science-based costs that do); and after product stewards get the guts to champion the benefits of their products and diminish their critics' vapid complaints.
If APR folks think like this as an industry voice, how do they really think about better serving their customers? I don't think I'd feel good about buying from them.
Thank goodness it was not impossible for one APR person to think straight: the “one source who spoke on condition of anonymity.” We need more like that one.
George A. Makrauer
ComAd Management Group Inc.