Monday, January 29, 2007

Letter To Editor in the Charleston Gazette

This is a letter against the proposed bottle bill. The writer brings up some points which need to be clarified and discussed.

Concerning the so-called “bottle bill,” years ago when they changed from glass to aluminum and plastic, the whole idea was “no deposit, no return.” Stores don’t have any place to store the empty cans. Also, they don’t want to pay someone just to take care of cans. People are not going to return six or 12 cans at a time. They are going to wait until they have a garbage bag full. Are you going to have a return center in every community? People are not going to spend more for gas to take the cans 25 or 30 miles to a center than they will get for the cans. The center will need a building, a crusher, and one to four people to work there. (Remember, all those cans have to be counted.) Who is going to pay for all that? A lot of people collect cans, take them to a recycling center and get 65 to 70 cents a pound for them. They use the money to buy their medicine, pay for their vacation or other extras. This bill hurts people who already recycle, because it is going to cost them a lot of money!

Thelma Neal
Gauley Bridge

Thelma has some very valid questions, but I believe that all these issues are addressed in the legislation and have been demonstrated in states that already have bottle bills to be addressable. I will take a moment to address her concerns here point by point:

1. Stores can easily make space to store empty containers. Stores in states with bottle bills like Michigan deal with empties every day and do so in a clean and efficient manner.
2. While it is probably true that stores don't want to pay for someone to deal with dealing with this issue. The bottle bill would actually provide useful employment to hundreds of people in West Virginia. I am sure that the taxpayers of West Virginia do not want to pay for people to clean up the sides of the road either.
3. People will (and do) return cans everytime they go to do their shopping in other states with the bottle bill. Reverse vending machines make it very easy for people to return their bottles and cans in any quantity. If some people decide to bring large trash bags full that is not a problem and will make the system more efficient and less time consuming. Don't forget that at 10 cents a bottle it will make people less willing to throw that bag of empties on the side of the road or into the local creek.
4. The goal would be to have return facilities in every community. I know that the state is going to set up facilities in all the major communities. Smaller communities would be served by their local stores which could provide deposit return facilities that are easy and efficient in the form of reverse vending machines.
5. Regarding who is going to pay for all this. The money to fund the program will come directly from litterers and those that choose to throw their cans and bottles away and forgo their deposit. There will be no new taxes and you will not pay for this service unless you choose to litter or throw your cans and bottles with deposits into the garbage. And, in addition, the service will actually make money to help clean up the roads and streams of the state of other garbage.
6. I encourage everyone to recycle. This bill will give a much better incentive for people to recycle and to collect bottles and cans from the side of the road and from the streams. Instead of 70 cents a pound (Do you really receive 70 cents per pound for PET plastic?) you will receive a lot more money for the deposits on the bottles that you collect. In Michigan many schools raise money by having the schoolkids collect bottles and cans which they then turn in for the deposit.


At 8:42 PM, Blogger Steve Zemke said...

When I visited Massachusetts last year I found it easy to recycle deposit containers. A number of grocery stores had the vending machines where people could insert containers for a refund. It was neat and clean. The refund machines were usually located outside the store or in entrance hallways.

Some people will still litter and throw containers away but now people that pick up and collect cans for cash will now get 10 cents a can, not one or two cents. Plus all plastic and glass beverage containers will be worth ten cents. Instead of having to pick up 25 aluminum cans to get 50 cents, they would only have to find 5 beverage containers, that could be plastic, glass or aluminum.

Beverage container deposit bills do reduce litter and waste in more ways than one.

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Eric Durland said...

Agreed. Thanks for the comment.


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