Economies of Scale
A couple lawyer friends and I have decided to meet weekly to talk about plastics recycling. Ever since I was in law school, so many moons ago, I’ve been thinking about this issue and am disappointed that our government still hasn’t taken it on. So we’re going to draft a little recycling bill and see what happens next.
Now before you go rolling your eyes 🙄 about already having too many laws on the books, let me just say this about that. Nobody in business ever does anything just to be nice. If there’s no ROI – return on investment – then it’s not going to happen no matter how much of a goody do-gooder is in charge. Even Ben and Jerry’s wants to see a profit.
So how do you convince people that plastics recycling is important, probably on the top ten list of important things if we are ever going to reverse the dire predictions of doom and gloom that have come to depict 21st century society?
Without a recycling law, you don’t. And here’s another fun fact: a law with no enforcement authority is just a suggestion, and we are way past the time for that kind of experiment.
The typical definition of economy of scale is “a proportional saving in cost gained by an increased level of production,” meaning, for example, the more widgets you make the less they cost to make because all your set up costs will be incurred only once. What if we turned this concept on its side and applied it to recycling? What would that look like?
Well, for starters, virgin products would cost more than recycled ones — because of a tax scheme, of course — which would encourage business to buy recycled plastics. For such a big change to work, though, the government has to be involved because they are the only ones who can write laws and make people pay taxes.
On the island of Dominica, the government is not only banning some single use plastics like straws, utensils, plates and styrofoam, but they are also making their island climate-change ready by burying utility lines and generally increasing the island’s sustainable nature. Why are they taking such extraordinary measures? Well, a year after Hurricane Maria, Dominica is still working through the aftermath and the rubble. They see the future and it looks like more of the same so they are taking steps to ensure the next hurricane doesn’t wipe them out for good.
What if we could get a few other countries to follow their lead? Maybe we could make a dent in this climate change crisis thing coming in hard and fast. Let’s get our economies of scale hats on and find a way to make recycling profitable for the consumers, manufacturers, recyclers and end users. If the tiny island of Dominica can do it, so can the rest of us.
I’ve created this post for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest.
pam lazos 6.29.19