How much will a Lasso cost?

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Co-Founder Aldous Hicks outlines Lasso’s anticipated pricing and details alternative service-based and hire-purchase models.
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Lasso has designed a home recycling appliance to give you, the householder, the power to recycle from the corner of your kitchen. Lasso’s first-of-its-kind technology cleans and processes your used plastic, glass and metal used-materials and used-containers so that they can be remade into valuable new products.

How much will a Lasso cost? What would be a reasonable price to pay for a machine that will save you time and effort, store your used materials and guarantee you are doing your bit for the planet?

Should it be comparable to the cost of a standard dishwasher, say US$800-US$1,000 or a standard fridge US$1,500-US$2,000? Or should it be comparable to say an entry-level US premium fridge, for example a Sub-Zero dual door fridge in the order of US$7,000?

Our vision is to have a Lasso domestic recycling appliance in every home on the planet. And we aim to make the Lasso recycling appliance as affordable as possible as fast as possible. This way we can achieve our mission to enable every household on the planet to contribute to and benefit from the circular economy. 

So what is the “the circular economy” and why is it important? Essentially recycling will only have a truly beneficial effect long term if materials are recycled not just once but many times over. “Repurposing” where, for example, collected plastics are made into art and “down cycling” where, for example, used materials are made into road base often just delay the “trip to the tip” and still require virgin materials to make more bottles, containers etc. A “circular” or “closed-loop” economy means the used materials in your “recycle bin” can be used many, many times over without having to use more of the earth’s resources to make new containers or to take up space in landfill.

Only by implementing a truly circular economy can we start to address the damaging environmental footprint we are stamping on our planet. The Lasso system will allow us to ensure the valuable materials we use every day will have a truly circular life and so start to lift the toll on our precious resources.

Back to the question of cost? We expect a fridge to cost more than a dishwasher. Why? Basically, making a fridge requires more material, components, labour and manufacturing time than a dishwasher. Fridges are bigger and require more storage space, whether in the warehouse or at the white goods retail store. Its size means it costs more than a dishwasher to transport from the factory to the retail store and then to your home. All these costs add up to mean that the sale price of a fridge must be higher than a dishwasher.

Household fridges and dishwashers have been manufactured for decades. The first domestic fridge sold in the US in 1921 and cost over US$11,000 in todays money. In 1921 a fridge cost more than the price of an average family car!

Today over 99% of US homes have a fridge. In the 100 years since the first fridge was manufactured new technologies and fierce market competition have meant a dramatic reduction in the cost of manufacturing so today you can buy a good fridge from between US$1,500 to US$2,000 ie a price reduction factor between five and seven.

Our first attempt to guesstimate a retail price for a Lasso domestic recycling appliance was based on a comparison between a Lasso and a Fisher and Paykel dual tray dishwasher, factoring in the fact that a Lasso is equivalent in size to three trays.

While the Lasso is made of similar material (metals and plastics) and similar components (pumps, water heaters etc) to a dishwasher (both appliances wash and dry things) there are clear differences. Crucially a Lasso must include:

  1. Sophisticated sensors to identify materials (eg type of metal or plastic, colour of glass etc)
  2. Specialist washing and scouring mechanisms to remove labels 
  3. Crushers, grinders, flakers etc to reduce the size of containers being processed.

So, just as a Lasso must cost more than a fridge it must also cost a lot more to make than a dishwasher.

In fact, when an in-depth technical appliance comparison is made on a component-to-component basis, a Lasso is much more complicated and therefore more expensive than a fridge. If Lassos were first manufactured in 1921 and followed a similar 100-year sales penetration journey as the fridge has, it is likely that the average Lasso would be more expensive than an average fridge costs today. This is analogous to a fridge costing more than a dishwasher. 

Remember, today’s equivalent money price of a 1921 fridge is $11,000.  The current Lasso planned retail price is more that 50% cheaper than $11,000

Lasso’s future aim is that, within five to eight years of the first roll-out, Lassos will be offered to households for an annual service fee – as an alternative to householders having to purchase a machine. This is possible because the materials processed by the Lasso machine will be an increasingly valuable commodity and will be sold thus making it viable for Lasso machine to be given to households for an annual service fee. And as a result, in the not-too-distant future, say approximately ten years from the first Lasso retail roll-out, every household on the planet that can afford mobile phone services will also be able to afford a Lasso appliance.

In the intervening years, assuming manufacturing of Lassos at scale, the retail price could drop by possibly 30%. After a few years from first roll-out, we expect insurance companies will see Lasso as a viable system and this will enable Lassos to be leased or rented or bought under hire-purchase arrangements with the upfront purchase cost being distributed over a few years.

What is the current planned forecasted Lasso retail price? As I said above, it will be more than 50% cheaper than today’s equivalent money price of a 1921 fridge at $11,000. In fact, it will be in the order of 70% cheaper in the region of US$3,500 to US$4,000.

The Lasso retail price was first guesstimated in 2005 when the author had purchased a Fisher and Paykel dual door dishwasher and did some rough comparisons. The Lasso was guesstimated at three times the then 2005 Australian dollar $1,750 purchase price of the Fisher and Paykel dishwasher producing the first Lasso retail price of A$5,250. Today, the equivalent in the US and the UK is US$3,675 and GBP £2,980 respectively. From a rough and ready price investigation on-line, today the Fisher and Paykel dishwasher retails for US$1,600, GBP £1,500 and A$2,600.

In 2017, when our current Chief Technical Officer Phil Sanders joined Lasso, he did what is called a Put-Take cost analysis of an Electrolux fridge compared to the then planned design of the Lasso appliance. This analysis confirmed the A$5,250 was in the ballpark. With the completion of the prototype at the end of March 2021, another detailed pricing analysis of the actual components will be made. We have our fingers crossed that this analysis will again confirm the initial retail price to be in the region of US$3,500 to US$4,000.

In our very first roll out, purchasing a Lasso will be more expensive than your average dishwasher or fridge - because it is simply a more complicated machine. But, just as the costs of fridges and washing machines came down with time, we expect that buying a Lasso will become increasingly more attractive to everyone especially as we start to realise the monetary value of the materials it processes. That has to be good news for us as individuals wanting to do our bit for the circular economy and for the planet.

Aldous Hicks

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