August 24, 2008
Let's first start by working to promote more recycling
We're in favor of more recycling, less unnecessary refuse in landfills, reduced use of fuel to make things like plastic bottles, and a clean environment.
Who isn't? Being in favor of those concepts is easy. The hard part is how to achieve them in our daily lives.
Take, for instance, the proposed expansion of New York's 1982 bottle bill to include non-carbonated beverages. Proponents call it the Better Bottle Bill. Seems to us more like a Bigger Bottle Burden for Beleaguered Beverage Businesses.
New Yorkers should be encouraged, even required, to recycle cans and bottles, especially plastic water bottles. Curbside recycling is the way to go, rather than charging deposits and making people return them to beverage centers or supermarkets.
Even if sellers were to receive a penny or two more to take back a bottle, the process would pose an unfair burden in terms of staff time and space. The number of bottled beverages has grown tremendously since the bottle bill became law in 1982. If recycling and reducing litter are top goals, the Legislature should make recycling mandatory at homes, businesses and restaurants, and local governments should provide easy ways for people to recycle.
Charging a deposit on bottles does encourage their return. The Associated Press reported that New Yorkers redeem almost 70 percent of deposit bottles. Also, the state says that while non-deposit beverage containers account for 25 percent of beverage sales, they account for 60 percent of the beverage containers that little the New York shoreline, according to the AP. Those numbers are pretty persuasive.
But they need not add up to an expanded bottle bill.
The 30 percent of unredeemed bottles adds up to millions of dollars, going one nickel at a time into the state budget. Unclaimed deposits, amount to about $100 million a year, the AP reports.
The public would probably accept a penny tax on beverages, rather than a 5-cent deposit, if the money was truly dedicated to environmental purposes.
Let's first try to tackle the problem by promoting recycling, with governments and the private sector working together. Perhaps municipalities and businesses statewide can get on board by adding "recyclable" trash bins to stand aside containers for landfill trash on sidewalks, parks and beaches and the like. Although this wouldn't provide a financial incentive for people to recycle, government could appeal to the common good and the common goals of less little and a healthier environment.