Thursday, August 26, 2004

Recycling, Point of Use, Immediate Feedback

Recycling, Point of Use, Immediate Feedback


In my recent vacation in Michigan, I saw and used that state's approach to recycling; a bottle grinder at the grocery store that cut the cost of cheese dip.


OK, many of you have seen these, so you are yawning.  Have a nice day, see you at my next posting.  For the rest of you, hang on.


As I walked into a local grocery store, I saw a soda-dispenser-sized machine in the entryway.  Inquisitive, I noted that they accepted plastic soda bottles.  I trotted back out to the car, grabbed a Diet Coke bottle I had finished and put it in just to see what would happen.  Whiz, gurgle, grind.  It took my bottle, ground it up into little plastic bits and issued me a bar-coded receipt for ten cents.  Not knowing just what to do with the receipt, I took it into the store, picked up my cheese dip, put the receipt down on the cashiers counter, who promptly slid it across the laser scanner along with my purchase and, boom, my jalapeno cheese dip was a dime cheaper. 


From that, I found a number of bottles in the next couple of days, took them back, got more receipts and bought more stuff at the store.  All the while eliminating bulky bottles from a landfill somewhere and cleaning up the roadsides, just a little. 


I don't know how the full economics of this works in Michigan, whether or not paying out a dime a bottle is worth it.  Yet it does do several things that any lean system should do. 

  • First, it is very clear on the offer and the value of the offer.  A dime a bottle. 
  • Second, it delivers the value instantly.  Put the bottle in the machine, get the receipt. 
  • Third, this translates into a consumer-determined value on the very same trip to the store.  I got cheese dip, the person behind me gets bratwurst, the next person gets baby formula.  No waiting around.  Use it however you want.
  • Fourth, it is self-paced by the performer.
  • Fifth, it has to help traffic at the grocery store.  
  • Sixth, it is very simple.  I'd guess grade-school kids get into this, understanding it fully.


Got me thinking.  Hope you find it helpful.  Say "yes" to Michigan (and "ja" to da U.P, eh?).


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