Producer responsibility for CDs – but could it work with ELVs!?

John Lieberman and Jim McKenna got so annoyed by the stream of promotional CDs they were getting in the mail from America Online Inc. that they wanted to give the Internet service provider a taste of its own mass-mailing practice.

The two men from California have set up a website – – asking people to send them their unwanted AOL CDs. Once they collect a million CDs from the public, they plan to load them up in a convoy of trucks, and personally deliver them to the company’s corporate doorstep in Dulles, Va.

“Like everyone else with a mailing address on the face of the earth, we’ve gotten more AOL CDs than we’ve ever wanted,” Mr. Lieberman said. “We’re serious about what we’re doing, which is to try and get AOL to stop the waste and what we see as the invasion of people’s privacy.”

Mr. Lieberman, who works in technical support for a San Francisco law firm, said he has nothing against AOL, but would like to see the company, one of the biggest producers of direct-mail CDs, end its mass-marketing practice.

A spokesman for AOL said the company welcomes the pair’s efforts.

“If they want to deliver CDs to us for the purpose of recycling, I’d be happy to meet them at the front door with the light on for them,” said Nicholas Graham.

Mr. Graham said AOL plans to continue its mass-mailing of CDs because it’s very successful. The company has about 35 million subscribers worldwide. Mr. Graham said AOL has one of the biggest internal recycling programs in the industry, and that consumers can return their unwanted CDs, which are made of polycarbonate, a high-quality plastic that takes hundreds of years to break down, but they must pay for the postage. Consumers can also use a toll-free number to ask to be removed from AOL’s mailing list.

The company won’t disclose how many CDs it has shipped since it began its direct marketing program in the early 1990s or how many it mails each year.

But David Beschen, founder of software recycling firm GreenDisk Inc., provides some insight. Over a three-month period, his Redmond, Wash.-based company recycled about 60 million floppy disks for AOL alone in the late 1990s. He said AOL’s direct-market approach is an effective way for the company to enlist more subscribers for its service, given that it may cost about 50 cents (U.S.) to produce and mail one CD while the overall industry response rate is about 1 to 3 per cent.

Since the Web site was launched in August, 2001, more than 81,000 CDs have been sent to Mr. Lieberman’s home in El Cerrito, Calif.

His crusade has spread overseas to France, Germany, Australia and Britain, where similarly frustrated people have set up Web sites to collect AOL CDs on his behalf. They plan to ship them in bulk to Mr. Lieberman’s home.

Mr. Lieberman says he has had offers from truckers volunteering to drive him to AOL’s headquarters, and that others have proposed to donate some gas money if he stops by their town. “People are very excited about it.”

In the meantime, he has been stringing the CDs together, using big hooks of clothing lines and storing them in his two-car garage.

Ano da Publicação: 2002
Fonte: Warmer Bulletin Enews #42-2002
Autor: Kit Strange, Warmer Bulletin
Email do Autor:

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