Monday, April 6, 2009

Manufacturing cap - Manufacture only as much as you recycle

Every second month comes the time when another Brita water purifier filter needs to be replaced. I am assailed by regrets, I don't want to throw it into the garbage nor do I want to incur additional expense to post it to Brita for recycling.

I collect these filters hoping that at some point in the future Brita will roll out a plan to collect all the used filters. May be they will tie up with the local Costco and set up a collection box.

Wishful thinking on my part? May be not... But my imagination takes another flight and I land into a future where there is a cap (like in cap and trade) on manufacturing. In this future Brita will only be able to produce as many filters as it recycles. So, if for the month of March Brita was able to collect 100,000 used filters, they can manufacture 100,000 filters for the month of April.

This cap will be in the form of a law that requires all manufacturers to call back their discarded products, recycle them judiciously and produce only the number of units that they collected and recycled a month before.

And the incentive to do that will be the proportionate increase of the manufacturing cap. I have seen time and again that the bottom line is the major influencing factor in any decision making. In Manufacturing cap we are creating an incentive to collect and recycle, not just leaving it to choice or personal discretion .

This Manufacturing cap will go a long way in reducing the stuff that goes to the landfills. It will help us in achieving sustainability in multiple ways.

1. Save valuable resources from ending up in landfills by mandating extraction of all the valuable materials from the used and discarded products.
2. Incentive to design Cradle to Cradle products. If the manufacturers are going to be responsible for the recycling of what they produce then they will design smart products with smarter materials that are easy to take apart and recycle.
3. Creating employment. Reuse of products is vital and substantially more resource efficient than recycling. Bunch of small businesses that repair and refurbishment products could grow under the wings of these recycling operations.

May be this dream will come true some day.


  1. I agree. This is like bite only as much as you can chew (and digest) and dont puke on others.
    For now companies dont think its their problem to think about what a consumer does after extracting "value" from their product. Another idea is to somehow take an estimate of landfill items. If your product ends up in land fill more often, you gotta pay extra taxes. Now its your choice to pay extra money for not wondering about where your product ends up.

  2. I really liked the idea.
    Right now...the idea is in the form of promotion coupons...hehe..get the coupon ..n takeaway the Jamba breakfast for $1 .. :) ..

    I agree to the thought and I really think its vry much feasible.

  3. Hi Prag,

    Yesterday...I was at somebody's place....n I saw them using this product. and I realized...80% of customers don't care...they know what their category dictates 'CONSUME' .. they just consume...and then do what the company asks them to....CONSUME MORE .. (sounds like...consumer).. hmm...