retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about how The Ferrero Group, owner of Nutella, is testing an environmentally themed program in France designed to cut down on the number of jars it puts into the ecosystem.  According to the announcement, "Nutella has joined forces with Loop - the leading reuse platform - and Carrefour for a reuse pilot scheme in Paris, France. Through the new scheme, shoppers will be able to purchase a specially designed reusable Nutella jar from the 10 pilot stores and the Carrefour website for which they pay a deposit. Carrefour will then collect the empty jars for washing and reuse."

One MNB reader responded:

Something old is new again.  Think soda/beer bottles from 50 plus years ago.  However, what bothers me is the use of the word ‘scheme’, starts the story off on a bad note. 

"Scheme," in this case, isn't a bad thing - in Europe, that word is used as a synonym for "initiative."

MNB reader Jim Antrup wrote:

I noted your piece this morning on the returnable jars for Nutella and it reminded me of a trip several years ago visiting my son and daughter in law in Germany during the Christmas holidays. We visited several Christmas markets  around the Stuttgart area, in all cases you could purchase Gluwien (mulled wine) in glass mugs  for 3 Euro’s, refills were 1 euro and at the end of the evening you could turn them back in a get 2 Euros deposit back. We also visited a medieval Christmas Market where in one of the booths they were serving a very hearty hot soup in glass bowls with the same approach, when you turned the soup bowl back in you received your deposit back. Europeans are much more comfortable and accepting of this, but yes I do hope this is the future.

From MNB reader Kathy Means:

Back in the dark ages, when I was a girl, this was a common thing – you paid a deposit on a milk bottle, even soda bottles (I was too young to know if you paid them on beer bottles). You turned the bottles back in and they were sanitized and used again. So is this the future? Or maybe back to the future.

Finally, the other day MNB took note of a Los Angeles Times report that yesterday the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) "approved a final rule governing 'industrial loan companies' that will allow major businesses to seek banking charters while escaping capital and liquidity demands faced by dedicated financial firms."  Businesses that, as it happens, could include familiar names such as Walmart, Amazon, and Facebook.  While the rule change does not allow these companies to launch full-service banks, it will allow them to get into the lending business."

Yesterday, an MNB reader said that the possibility had him humming Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" … and that prompted another MNB reader to write:

"South Park" tackled this a few years back.  It's a bit crude at the beginning but it hits exactly the notes in the comments.

The "South Park" segment actually is sort of brilliant … I found a version of it on YouTube that trimmed most of the profanity.  Here it is: