Mandatory Return Envelopes for AOL CDs

From Wired News:

The California Assembly will debate a bill in coming weeks that would force companies to provide a return envelope for each unsolicited CD they send out, possibly crimping the marketing plans of companies like America Online.

Berkeley Assemblywoman Loni Hancock introduced the so-called Return to Sender bill this week. It would mandate that a postage-paid envelope be included with unsolicited CDs in mass mailings of 200 or more discs. Disposable DVDs such as Disney's 48-hour EZ-D must also include a return envelope for customers' use. [...]

"It's just such conspicuous waste to have this brand-new product made with this expensive and irreplaceable material end up in landfills, especially when the people who put them there didn't ask to receive the product in the first place," Hancock said.

Companies "send a product to people that they do not want, they did not ask for and will not use," she said. "(They) should take responsibility for taking back the product if it isn't used."

This sounds like "snail-spam".

I wonder how many people are on the internet today because they once received an AOL CD in the mail.

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It also seems a waste to

It also seems a waste to provide an envelope that no one will ever use--it will be discarded with the CD.

This bill reflects a serious

This bill reflects a serious misunderstanding of market economics. There is no externality here. Hancock is concerned that AOL is wasting natural resources, but AOL is already bearing the cost of the resources that go into making those CDs. If there are no externalities, and AOL is achieving a positive return from mailing those CDs, there is obviously no waste.

I wonder how many people are

I wonder how many people are on the internet today because they once received an AOL CD in the mail.

My mother is one of them. In general, the internet would be better-off without them. But let AOL do as they wish, I guess.

It also seems a waste to

It also seems a waste to provide an envelope that no one will ever use?it will be discarded with the CD.

Seriously. Who's going to expend the effort to send the CDs back?

Seriously -- I would. I

Seriously -- I would. I would even go so far as to set up a community 'send-back' drop-off, to take care of the 'onerous' task of doing the mail-back.
Why?
Because I oppose litter, ie, the purposeful violation of property rights. By what conceivable right does AOL toss their CD's on my lawn? [And how is placing it, or having it placed, in my mailbox different from tossing it on my lawn?]

Shirley Knott

The dingbat from Berkeley

The dingbat from Berkeley seems to believe that AOL's throwaway discs could be recycled efficiently. She probably doesn't realize how rarely recycling is cost-efficient. Usually it requires subsidy. Extra resources are expended to placate people who want fewer resources used.

Shirley, I don't litter when

Shirley,

I don't litter when I dispose of AOL CDs: they go straight into the trash, which is hauled away, presumably not to your lawn. I expect most folks do the same. How exactly does forcing AOL to include a postpaid envelope with their CD alleviate the problem of litter?