February 28, 2007
Legislature should pass new bottle-deposit law
This year, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is still opposed to the law, but his office says that the senator, while not supporting the law, this session will not condemn it. That is a step in the right direction, but we still are skeptical that the proposed law can pass without Bruno's active support.
When the state first went back to bottle deposits, containers for juice, water and drinks such as Gatorade were not included, purportedly because they are healthy drinks, in addition to which, at the time, such drinks constituted a tiny portion of the total gross.
Times have changed, however, and such drinks are a major part of the beverage market. We believe that means they should be required to carry a deposit fee.
The reason to support the law is a combination of simple esthetics and practical recycling.
Roadside litter is disgusting, plain and simple. Containers that carry a deposit, studies prove, are recycled at a 400 percent higher rate than non-refund containers.
In a nutshell, charge a deposit fee and the landscape will be that much cleaner.
That's the esthetics. As far as recycling goes, these beverages are often packaged in materials that do not degrade or only degrade after more than a century, which means these bottles are helping fill dump sites already overflowing and becoming hazardous to health.
A spokesman for Sen. Bruno says his boss is opposed to the bill because it is a tax that would be imposed on an already-overtaxed electorate.
Sorry, we don't buy into that. Every year the Legislature passes more and more "taxes" in the forms of fees and increased license surcharges. In this state, our legislators are fearless when it comes to raising taxes.
Additionally, it is a little unfair to call the bottle deposit a tax, as the consumer can get his money back by acting responsibly and returning the container to the store where it was purchased.
The funds that aren't collected would then be returned to the state for use in upgrading parks and making recreation even more enjoyable.
Who knows? The Legislature is being a bit cantankerous this year, and perhaps the bill does have a chance. It certainly deserves passage.