Why “Green” is(?) expensive ?

Green Products, organic foods, recyclable paper, recyclable plastic, articles made from recycled waste material etc are flooding the style statement shelves of upmarket shopping malls. Most people who buy such products drive expensive fuel guzzlers, often forget to switch off their ACs, and most probably draw the shades and light up their homes in day times for deriving the pleasure of ‘ambience’ ! For these consumers, a green product is a status symbol. No wonder the smart marketer has sensed this pulse and priced the products suitable to their status!

The explanation usually given is that recycling is expensive or that manufacturing recyclable material is expensive. It may be worthwhile to examine which part of recycling is expensive.

The recycling equipment is almost for the same cost as  manufacturing equipment if not cheaper. Labour is the same. The raw material is free as compared to manufacturing. What is difficult is the transportation or the reverse logistics of the raw material (read ‘waste’). Straightening this complicated process of reverse logistics is the solution to reducing the cost of recycling.

Now about recyclable products. Manufacturing is surely more complicated. Machinery may be expensive. Labour is more or less the same. Raw material is perhaps more expensive depending on the product. So the cost of a recyclable good seems to be justified. But now, let us compare the cost post consumption. The cost of removing the post consumption waste, the cost of land fills, the cost of damage to the environment, the cost of medical expenses for diseases acquired from contaminated water, air and food…and so on. In reality, what you save by buying a non recyclable product against a recyclable product is nothing but a small part of your postponed expenses !

Therefore, to summarize, ‘Green’ need not be expensive provided the the style statement is detached from such usage, provided the reverse logistics processes are streamlined and provided we all consider a holistic cost of ownership of a product including its post consumption costs.


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