According to studies on motivation, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are key drivers of human behavior. And those embodying an entrepreneurial mindset will capitalize on their desire to create by leveraging networks and opportunities as they arise from the marketplace.

Consumer interests and consumption patterns serve as powerful signals regarding what is of value, and economic pressures ensure that what is pursued is worth producing.

Unfortunately, some innovations are being demanded by politicians, not markets. Take, for example, advancements in electric and battery-powered tools. Such machinery has been gaining significant traction over the past few decades, as iterations and adjustments have occurred through learning by doing.

Major benefits of battery-powered equipment include reduced noise and reduced emissions. As such, for landscapers, battery-powered leaf blowers seem to be an intriguing option. These types of blowers improve working conditions (no need for ear protection or concerns for breathing gas fumes all day), improve workflow (no concerns with disturbances at odd hours), and appease customers who are environmentally conscious.

The disadvantages, however, still outweigh the positives, given that battery blowers are less effective and rather costly compared to those that are gas-powered. For the time being, battery blowers only make sense for homeowners with light maintenance needs.

Be that as it may, industry interests and product improvements are creating incentives for battery options to become the standard choice over time, but government officials are demanding that the time for change is now.

It’s been a little over a year since the District of Columbia phased out gas blowers due to both noise and air pollution. Cities and states have gotten into the act too, banning gas-powered leaf blowers despite the fact that battery-powered blowers increase costs to both landscapers and their customers. Moreover, inefficient leaf cleanup can also create environmental costs due to storm water management matters.

Banning gas blowers coerces landscape companies to purchase less-efficient equipment at a higher cost, which will carry over into price increases for customers. Longer on-the-job hours will be required, given that battery blowers are less powerful, and time for recharging batteries must also be factored in. 

These matters are real concerns given that DC already has a poor track record for timely leaf collection, and California’s electrical grid is known not to provide secure energy supplies. It should also be noted that recent media attention on human rights abuses in relation to the mining of cobalt also makes battery use a point of contention, in and of itself.

Nevertheless, politicians are pushing for a battery-powered future, regardless of the fact that the power and the plug-in options are simply not there yet. 

And blowers are just the start. California has passed a ban on gas-powered lawn mowers to take effect in 2024, and New York and Illinois are not far behind. Minnesota is mandating that Zambonis be electric and, with the assertion by the Biden Administration that EVs should be prioritized, America’s electrical grid better get ready.

Although dominant providers of battery-powered equipment are likely pleased by the forced surge in demand, the pressure that will be placed on supply chains will likely result in a focus on the speed of output rather than the quality of that which is produced. 

Although ingenuity can result in substantial net positives for market-based systems, ideas must be granted the time to work out innovation and effectiveness, and not be pressured by politicians who are detached from the production process. 

Indeed, what is rather troublesome is that according to a forecast report by MarketWatch, “restrictions on manufacturing” derived from pandemic policies may “lead to a shortage of electric leaf blowers in the market.” 

Stockouts and supply chain bottlenecks could have real implications for landscapers who are no longer allowed to use their gas-powered blowers and unable to acquire battery-powered ones. And, given that there is already a severe shortage of labor in the landscape sector, the concern won’t be over what equipment is being used, but rather who will even opt to use it.

Author