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Bottle Deposits  RSS feed

 
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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I make and sell yogurt at the farm I work at.  I make it in pint canning jars and add a $1 deposit for the jar.  So, obviously enough, when a person buys their first jar it cost $1 more.  They eat it and hopefully enjoy it and buy another one.  If they bring their jar back, the don't pay the deposit for the next jar and if they don't they do pay the deposit.  Seems simple enough right?

Well there has always been some resistance from the boss.  Before I started this endeavor, the boss suggested putting them in plastic.  I didn't want the waste of that and my method for making yogurt allows me to just make it in the jar directly.  Then the boss said the customers here won't care about returning the jar and I should just build it into the price.  I had more faith in finding some like minded people who would get the reusing is recycling idea.  After 4 months the customers are over 60% compliant.  So I am happy with the way the system works.

There is still the occasional push to change to a build the jar into the price model, but it has been a while since that has come up.  Anyway, this week brought a head scratching interaction.
A customer returned enough jars to have to not pay for the one jar of yogurt they was getting.
They said (to my boss I wasn't there) "This is free, right?"
And the boss said "No it is still costing me money"
This was relayed to me later by the boss.

What I don't get:
1. The yogurt was never free.  The customer paid with jar which are the equivalent of dollars.  I understand that maybe they just meant "I don't have to pay any actual cash"
2. The jar the customer took, didn't cost the boss or me anything.  The customer was entitled to it through the deposit system.

So that was a long winded way of me asking if anyone sells anything using a deposit system and what benefits and challenges are faced?
 
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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being it was a one time incident i'd say no biggie. in the future maybe make the rule "1 jar may be redeemed per visit/purchase" so as to avoid you having to over-purchase/stock too many jars.

i dont know if people should necessarily be permitted to hold onto them and cash them in bulk,unless you and boss dont mind, and can verify they are definitely your jars.

another way to look at it : if i have 10 used up yogurt jars here,and i know i can return them for a *free*(not really) yogurt,that's an incentive for me to go to your store,and while im there probably get some other things...if they're MY jars , or i can only redeem 1... well,no rush to hit the store then.

maybe just my NY cynicism/skepticism.
so longs people aren't gaming the system turning in 25 cent jars for $1 redemption i think it is a wonderful thing you're doing.  And i just laughed at the notion of 'gaming the $1 yogurt jar system'. kinda absurd i guess but hey times is tuff
 
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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If the Jar costs more than $1 then it was good to have the returns. If not then it is better if they never come back. However the boss is wrong, he got back the jars and that saves him money. Building the price into the product and encouraging the customers to bring back the jars may be better, but it may not. Pricing is difficult work.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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The jars are regular mouth canning jars and are about 60 cents each.  That doesn't include gas to pick them up.  It has been a constant source at this price.  That is also the cheapest in the closest town.  Most other places sell them for closer to a dollar per jar. 

I understand that it is better if they never come back because we end up making a little money on jars.  My other motivation is reuse.  I would rather have 100% compliance and never have to buy jars again.

I thought about building it in the price and asking customers to return the jars anyway.  Because the boss was convinced the customers would not bring the jars back, I decide the deposit made more sense.  Again I was trying to encourage returns.  Most of the pricing here is in whole dollar amounts so that is why I went with a dollar instead of .75 cents, which would cover my cost.

I agree that pricing is difficult work.  Another thing the boss suggests is that if we go to built in price is to lower the overall price by .50 cents.  I have been happy with the sales level and the price is comparable to other yogurts in our area.  The point is that maybe more people will try it at a lower price.  We have yet to try that approach.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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tribalwind wrote:
being it was a one time incident i'd say no biggie. in the future maybe make the rule "1 jar may be redeemed per visit/purchase" so as to avoid you having to over-purchase/stock too many jars.

i dont know if people should necessarily be permitted to hold onto them and cash them in bulk,unless you and boss dont mind, and can verify they are definitely your jars.

another way to look at it : if i have 10 used up yogurt jars here,and i know i can return them for a *free*(not really) yogurt,that's an incentive for me to go to your store,and while im there probably get some other things...if they're MY jars , or i can only redeem 1... well,no rush to hit the store then.

maybe just my NY cynicism/skepticism.
so longs people aren't gaming the system turning in 25 cent jars for $1 redemption i think it is a wonderful thing you're doing.  And i just laughed at the notion of 'gaming the $1 yogurt jar system'. kinda absurd i guess but hey times is tuff



Of the people that are regular yogurt customers, all of the bring back as many jars as they purchased the previous time.  So usually it is 3 jars in 3 jars out or however many.  So I already am set up to receive bulk jars and having ebbs and flows in storage and back up jars. 

As for the scamming of the jars.  Yes we have run into that.  Same customer as the "free" yogurt incident.  The customer brought jars that are definitely not ours.  We let it go because I can use them for other things, but we did tell them  for then on only bring back our jars. 

That customer is just one of "those" customers.  The worst part is they own their own business.
 
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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The boss is an idiot and his customer relations suck.  Hope he isn't reading this.

Lets do the math. 

Lets say that you buy 100 jars at .60 each, or $60.

You sell those for $100.  So far he is up $40, a 66% profit.  If he was using plastic, he would be losing money paying for plastic. 

60 percent of those 100 jars return.  40 of them remain out in circulation.  The only costs with 60 returned jars is the cost of washing and sanitizing them, lets say .20 per jar, or $12.  (does the health dept. approve?)

He then resells these 60 jars for $60... for a $48 profit on a $12 investment, or 400% profit this time around. 

These jars are the highest margin item in his store.  They would have been an expense. 

The only question he should have is how can we sell more yogurt?

Lastly, he has done something good for the planet, and customers like that.  This is win-win-win. 
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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yukkuri_kame wrote:
Lastly, he has done something good for the planet, and customers like that.  This is win-win-win. 



I agree with the win-win-win.

BTW the boss is a she and has an odd understanding of money and potential profits.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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misfit wrote:
I agree with the win-win-win.

BTW the boss is a she and has an odd understanding of money and potential profits.



Revealed my gender bias  ops: and by far most of the bosses I've had in my life have been women.  Old ideas die hard.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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You're not the only one with a gender bias.  Most people have assumed the he.  When I wrote the post I started writing the woman I work for and then changed it to boss.  I didn't want to invite a gender bias.  I guess it just comes up.

I've been about 50/50 working for males or females in my working life.
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I don't know where you live, but here in Michigan we buy all carbonated beverages in a can,  plastic bottle or glass bottle (rare) with a 10 cent deposit on each.  There was a large amount of resistance when the law was first enacted but over the years, Michiganders found that they didn't end up on our roadsides and in the landfill.  You can certainly tell where our state line ends (just sayin'.  There are return stations where you take your cans and bottles, feed them into a machine that crushes them, counts them and gives you a receipt that you take to the checkout and "cash" in.  Apply toward your purchase or just get your money back.  Stores have a different register key for deposits and another for returns.  At the Natural Food store I buy milk in a quart glass milk bottle with a 4 dollar deposit the first time.  When I go and get more milk the bottle goes with me.  I have kept a few for other things (tea or water) but I don't get my deposit back for those, I just paid 4 bucks for a handy container but if I were to take them back I would recieve 4 bucks each.  I paid it out, I get it back.  As for the jars that aren't yours, the stores here won't accept them with a simple we don't sell this product therefore we don't take these containers.  You'll have to take it back to where you bought it to get your your deposit.  Sorry, have a nice day!  Michigan is now considering a deposit on ALL beverage containers, carbonated or not.  The population at large is no longer resistant.  A lot of us think it's overdue.  BTW the cans and bottles collected go to recycling plants where they are prepared for post consumer use products.
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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Woodmyst:  I am living in Texas right now, no deposits on any containers.  I live in the country and we don't have curbside garbage or recycling, but the county has a pretty good recycling system.  I used to live in NY (again in the country) and they did have a bottle deposit.  There was still bottles and cans littering the road ways, not as bad as I've seen.  The closer you get to towns and cities the less you saw it because people would pick them up for the deposits.  What's crazy is that NY was at one time considering removing the deposit because near some of the state lines, people would bring bottles in from the states with without deposits and the stores would lose the nickle per bottle to them.  I don't know if this resolved itself or not
I would love to see a widespread point of purchase recycling system, where whatever packing is purchased has to be taken back at the place it was purchased.  That would shift the burden then to their suppliers and close the loop.  Of course this would be voluntary on the part of the consumer, so if someone didn't feel like "...pawing through my garbage like some starving raccoon" (Montgomery C. Burns) they wouldn't have to.
 
                                  
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Misfit: We also have the out of state bottle problem.  But there are recycling centers for other materials and I have to say MOST MI residents take them there instead.  We also have the machines that read the barcode and if it has a deposit I think the barcode is slightly different and the machine won't take it if it's not ours. I sort of think bottle deposit should be nationwide.  The same deposit across the board accepted in any state i.e. a returnable coke bottle in TX will still be a returnable coke bottle in MI.  5 cents is an ok deposit but at 10 cents, believe me, people pick them up!  That is exactly what the law intended.  It's nice to see that lawmakers can actually come up with something that works once in a while.
 
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