business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we took note of a Boston Globe story about how "Maine Governor Janet Mills this week signed the nation’s first extended producer responsibility (EPR) law, effectively holding the corporations accountable for the packaging waste they create. Now, nearly a dozen states, including Massachusetts, are on track to follow Maine’s lead."

MNB reader Bob McGehee wrote:

In the mid-90’s Florida enacted the Advance Disposal Fee (ADF).  It was a cost added to various products depending on their current level of  recycling.  Aluminum cans and newspapers were initially exempt as they were already above the Florida determined recycling percentage goal.  Plastic, cardboard and various other material had a fee (aka tax) added at the wholesale level for each sale unit.  I.E., a six pack of juice boxes had $0.06 added to its cost.  Retail pricing was increased to account for the cost. 

Initially, it was a real nightmare to even get an accurate list from the state of Florida for all products.  Also, it was determined that many items had to be exempted because of the nature of their packaging.  I.E., a can of nuts has a plastic lid, cardboard container and a aluminum lid.  You can imagine the gyrations that generated.

Systems had to be edited to create a field to load the ADF, retailers had to post signage alerting consumers to the new increased cost plus many other costly activities.   Wholesalers were compensated about $10 per month to manage reports, revenue submission, audit practices, etc. That money was spent on the first round of conference calls.  LOL.

After about 2 years, it was abandoned due to less than projected revenue, consumer complaints and general lack of behavior change.  It fell into the pile of ‘that’s a good idea, let’s do it, what could possibly go wrong’ endeavors.  I’ll be watching to see if Maine’s experience has a different outcome. 

Another MNB reader responded:

Shifting the responsibility to the manufacturer again.  The states will still have to figure out what to do with the waste.  That doesn’t change.  The only difference is they don’t pay for it anymore.  So I wonder if Maines taxes will go down???  That would be wicked good.

On another subject, from MNB reader Steven Ritchey:

Rudeness in stores isn't new.

I started working as a bag boy in Tom Thumb in Fall of 1976, you can do the math as to how long ago that was and how old I am now.  A year or two later I was a checker.  Early one Saturday morning a woman was loudly berating me because we were out of something that was on sale.  I tried to explain to her that our DC was out and we'd been cut on our last order and I would happily issue her a rain check for it.

She was having none of it, and she was letting me know using language that would make a sailor blush.  My Store Manager happened to walk by, heard her outburst and came over to see if he could help.  He ended up telling her that his employees were not there to be treated rudely by people like her and she needed to stay out of his store until she could behave herself.

Later, I helped a woman take her groceries to her car and all the way there she complained to me that she had just moved her from New York, and she had the accent to prove it.  I was in the Dallas area in Texas, grew up there and have the accent to prove it.  She capped off her litany of complaints as I put her groceries in her car with, "And I hate this southern, Texas accent, and you are the worst I've ever heard."

I just looked at her and smile then said, "Well Ma'am, at least I don't talk like some damned arrogant yankee."

I turned to go back in the store and I heard her calling me.  Expecting an outburst I turned to face her and she said, "Thank you for putting me in my place, I deserved that."  She become one of my best customers for the next few years.

Responding to a conversation from yesterday, one MNB reader wrote:

Regarding the vaccine “scam”.  Have a friend that got the vaccine.  Their spouse called it a scam and wouldn’t go within 10 miles of it.  The spouse is now recovering, thankfully, from the virus, was hospitalized and is still not up to speed.  So call it what you want, but vaccines work and apparently are working on the variants.  No evidence to the contrary and I see it as a real scare tactic.  Even though I lean right, I say get the vaccine so your voice can continue to be heard.

In my commentary yesterday, I expressed a certain exasperation with people who are complaining about new mask mandates.  I suggested they think of it this way - if a street had a pothole, and the authorities felt it was necessary to block off the street temporarily, it would make sense to die so until the street could be repaired.  After all, public safety is important.

But one MNB reader wasn't buying:

Instead of blocking off the street, why not drive around the pothole?  You still get to where you’re going but are careful how you do it knowing there is an impediment.

Sometimes you don't see the pothole until it is too late.  Sometimes the pothole is too big to drive around.  And sometimes people find any reason not to accept the fact that sometimes, in the public interest, we have to accept certain inconveniences.