Dutch markets in everything

by on September 14, 2012 at 5:20 am in Current Affairs, Economics | Permalink

The Netherlands is rolling out some 6,000 smart garbage cans that can only be used when residents scan an RFID-enabled ID card.  Besides monitoring just how much trash someone disposes of, the cans will also measure and charge the user based on how much refuse they tossed.

Here is more.  Can they join the Pigou Club?  Not so clear.  Still, oddly enough, I don’t think this will do much to encourage littering or illegal garbage disposal.  It may encourage the purchase of less packaging and waste.

For the pointer I thank @ModeledBehavior.

1 8 September 14, 2012 at 7:28 am

What about the smart litterers that drop the garbage in front of it?

2 Yancey Ward September 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

Damnit!!!! You beat me to it!

3 JWatts September 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Easy you just install cameras to watch the trash cans. And then you’ll need cameras to watch the cameras, of course. 😉

4 prior_approval September 14, 2012 at 7:53 am

‘It may encourage the purchase of less packaging and waste.’
Sort of like the long running process which describes the DSD (Green Point) in Germany, or ARA in Austria? The system(s) implemented when companies that actually sell packaged items rejected the idea that should be responsible for having their customers return the packaging back to its creators?

Or would this describe the policy of a company like Aldi (a company that ate Wal-Mart’s bloated lunch in Germany), which sees packaging as nothing but a cost – from the point of buying it, transporting it, storing it, and disposing of it? After all, when you sell 5 million packages a day, saving one gram from each package has a direct relationship to your shipping costs. And having more compact packaging means less warehousing/transport space is required. Some companies think so ruthlessly in such terms that they destroy competitors on price, especially the ones unable to understand that packaging is essentially a wasted expense, and not a marketing advantage when price is the critical determiner of purchasing decisions. (Since Aldi has its own stores, and also owns Trader Joe’s, it is possible to see how this works, even in the U.S.)

However. packaging waste isn’t really a customer choice, as any normal American supermarket so clearly displays.

5 Ted Craig September 14, 2012 at 8:34 am

Aldi “ate Wal-Mart’s” lunch not because Wal-Mart is bloated, but because Aldi is German. Aldi is doing fairly well in the U.S., but most retailers struggle in other countries (see Royal Ahold, Carrefour).

6 prior_approval September 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

‘Wal-Mart is bloated’
Compared to Aldi, it is – which is directly reflected in price comparisons. Walmart spent a lot of money advertising its low prices, advertising which Aldi never matched. Mainly because Aldi knew that German shoppers were actually able to compare prices, and remember where to buy at the lowest one.

There is a lot of additional details, which are really appropriate here – Walmart is bloated, at least if the stories from people who knew people working in the former Wertkauf HQ are to be trusted, and compared to how Aldi is structured.

A solid overview of how Aldi, both of them, are doing in foreign markets – http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2012/05/17/aldis-trader-joes-is-a-winner/

7 Doc Merlin September 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

All the Germans who I spoke with said that Walmart lost because it creeped them out. Being greeted at the door they said was creepy and made them not wish to return. In addition many of them told me they stole the “free” shopping bags in large qauntity, because in german society the bags are seen as valuable (most places charge you for the bags).

8 zbicyclist September 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

I wouldn’t say WLM is “bloated”, but Aldi is relentlessly efficient. In the US, you can easily see the focus on minimizing costs: the quarter deposit for a shopping cart means they don’t have to have labor bring them in; the spartan shelving and case-cutting saves stocking labor. Not only does it save money, it reinforces the low-price image so Aldi doesn’t have to advertise it.

9 GiT September 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

Seems like a needlessly hi-tech solution.

In Zurich,one had to use ‘regulation’ trash bags for their household garbage when I was last there. (Luckily, the trash bag I had used to carry some laundry was not ruined by my use and my uncle avoided taking a hit for my improper use of his trash bag).

10 Rebecca September 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I was thinking about the ZH law as well. I knew numerous people, who would collect their garbage in plastic bags and drop it in street bins on the way to work, to avoid the expensive regulation bags.

11 Bradley Calder September 14, 2012 at 8:29 am

Expect small garbage piles next to these garbage cans.

12 Doc Merlin September 14, 2012 at 9:42 am

Its Holland so a lot of people will start free loading by doing this and others will pick up and trash it for them.

13 Eduard September 14, 2012 at 10:20 am

“Rolling out”? They’ve had that in Holland for years. It’s even been in the news because of the potential hackability of the chips:
(Google translate will make sense of it).
Also, the reason for needing an ID isn’t just to measure how much garbage a given person/household produces, but also to prevent “garbage tourism”, i.e. people from nearby using another neighborhood’s garbage facilities.

14 JonF September 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Do they allow for more trash for larger households? And do they provide for free and convenient recycling?

15 What September 15, 2012 at 9:05 am

Is this a joke?

Do they not realize people will just throw their trash on the street (perhaps directly from their apartment windows) if they charge for garbage cans?!?

I mean, one is already doing the community a huge favor by using the cans, so they are basically kicking the altruistic citizens in the nuts hard.

16 ila September 17, 2012 at 11:10 am

You know, I’ve never thought just how good an example of commons problems we can actually solve. Charging people for the waste they produce but that doesn’t go into the sewer is not easy, as this problem shows. If we invoke the State, we can use public money to contract someone to clean up our garbage for us (see Sandy Springs, GA) in such a way that it won’t be ridiculously inefficient. As long as we can find some taxable good or service that approximates the amount of garbage produced (land, income, sales, deliveries?), there won’t be much deadweight loss as a result, and I should it to be much lower than what would come out of having trash cops.

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