Monday, March 27, 2006

Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle Editorial and Response

A Tennessee newspaper has come out against the proposed Tennessee Bottle Bill in this opinion piece.

Here are some excerpts and responses:

"Does anyone think the three cents per bottle or can really will cover all the expenses of running such a program?"

Response: Yes. District 21 state Rep. Russell Johnson, R-Loudon, who is the lead proponent of the plan, is quoted in your newspaper as saying that the Bottle Bill "would do all this while paying for itself and raising as much as $58 million for programs like pre-K education ... and increased funding for the popular county litter grants program," Johnson said.

"Is there any doubt this will add another layer of bureaucracy to state government?" Response: What is wrong with adding another layer of bureaucracy to state government when the benefits of such legislation are so great? (See TNBottleBill.Org for more detailed information on the benefits of a bottle bill.)

Writing about the current litter tax the editorial says, "Today, it generates $5 million a year for counties to fund litter pickup, oftentimes by prisoners from the county jails. These prisoners pick up all of the trash along the roadsides — not only bottles and cans, which comprise some 10 to 20 percent of trash found along roadways."

Response: As reported by your paper, the bottle bill would generate over $50 million for the state, part of this money would more than double the money received for the County grants litter program.

"What Tennessee needs instead of a bottle bill is a more comprehensive litter-control program that would include higher fines for those who decide to throw a bottle or a fast-food bag out the window of their cars. It's far better to stop people from using the roadways as their garbage can than to pick up the stuff after the fact."

Response: We all agree that a bottle bill is only part of a comprehensive litter control program. Higher fines (and enforcement) for litterers is welcomed by those that support a bottle bill. It is far better to stop people from littering in the first place than to pick up litter after the fact. (See statistics on effectiveness of bottle bills at litter prevention here. A Bottle Bill is an inexpensive and effective part of a comprehensive litter control program.

"Also, cans already are being recycled through private companies and landfills throughout the state."

Response: By definition, a can in a landfill is not being recycled. Only 35% of aluminum cans in Tennessee are currently being recycled. I guess the other 65% are being "recycled" in landfills.

"The proposal wouldn't do anything to address the paper products that are causing the real problem along Tennessee's roadsides."

Response: Although this legislation is aimed at bottles and cans, it has been shown in the 11 states with bottle bills that they reduce other types of litter and increase the recycling rate of all other recyclables, including paper.

"Let's trash the bottle bill before it goes any further in the Legislature."

Response: Let's hear the facts and discuss the issue in the Legislature before we throw this opportunity in a ditch on the side of the road.

You can add your comments to the Leaf-Chronicle blog here.


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