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The Good, The Bad, and The Disposable February 26, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Gadgets, Shopping.
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I was standing in a store at DCA last week and a rack caught my eye. It was a rack of DVDs that had the following statement on the package: No Return DVD Rental. What the heck? Ok, so now my interest is peaked. I picked up the package and began reading. It’s a DVD that, once opened, is only good for 48 hours. It’s actually called an EZ-D and upon opening the package a bonding resin on the DVD reacts to the atmosphere around it making the disc unreadable after 48 hours. It’s the development of a company called Flexplay.

Environmentalists are up in arms about this product. They are complaining that these EZ-Ds are an unnecessary disposable product. Why take a perfectly good reusable product like a DVD and add a time limit which turns it into waste? Art LeBlanc, the president of Flexplay, said that the development of this product “is intended to address people who find renting inconvenient.” I’m not that convinced about the convenience factor that this provides. We subscribe to Netflix and there’s no inconvenience there (is it that hard to walk to your mailbox?) nor is there a time limit for how long I can keep the movie. The one positive aspect that Flexplay provides is that the discs are fully recyclable. You can visit their website and request a prepaid label to send your EZ-Ds back to Flexplay for recycling. However, what is the environmental impact of creating these EZ-Ds? Supposedly it’s no different than a regular DVD. What about price? The price point seems to hit around $4.99 per disc.

I can see some value in offering this type of product in an airport when you might be looking to view a movie on the “fly”, but in regular day-to-day viewing, I’m not really sure that I see the added convenience that it is supposed to provide to the consumer.

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