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April 27, 2011

Journal Tribune

Bottle bill changes will lead to littering

A bill to repeal Maine’s bottle bill, which allows for redemption of a deposit on recyclable containers, has been withdrawn this session, but a handful of bills remain that would chip away at the types and sizes of containers that can be redeemed as well as the amount of the deposit.

We see no reason to repeal or remove parts of this law that have kept the sides of Maine roads clean and supported countless fundraising drives for non-profits and youth organizations over the years.

In Alfred alone, more than $6,200 was raised for the “Fueling February” program in 2010 through the donations of bottles and cans from townspeople. Those 5 and 15 cent deposits fund heating assistance for families in need in the town.

One bill still being considered in the legislature, LD 1324, would exempt bottles larger than 28 ounces from Maine’s bottle-deposit recycling law. The bill would also establish a uniform deposit of 5 cents for all containers.

While this may seem palatable, it is an attempt to denigrate the law that has proven to be a very effective recycling policy and a boost to people and organizations who are willing to go door to door and walk along roadsides to collect the redeemable bottles.

Allowing any bills to pass that weaken Maine’s current law would likely lead us down the path of repeal and back to a state with bottles and cans littering our roadsides and more trash in landfills.

In his testimony before the legislature, Matt Prindiville of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said the bills would decrease the state’s recycling rate and increase landfilling of beverage containers. He testified that in the 10 states that have bottle bills, the beverage container recycling rates average 80 percent. In all other states, the beverage container recycling rate is below 25 percent.

We agree that making reductions to the law or doing away with it altogether would increase the amount of trash on roadsides and the amount going into landfills.

It would be nice if people recycled all of the reusable materials they consume without any financial incentive, but the majority of people have proven that they will not do so. Until that day comes, having an incentive program in place with benefits including less pollution, more recycling and support of non-profits and other groups seeking ways to raise funds is the only way to keep bottles in the recycling stream.

Another aspect of this issue is the jobs involved.

It’s estimated that more than 1,000 jobs were created statewide due to the bottle bill. More than 800 redemption centers are also located in the state. Those business owners are also taxpayers who would not have a business without the current bottle bill.

We hope the legislature will leave in place a system that has worked for the last 35 years and preserve the jobs, tax revenue, fundraising efforts and environment that all benefit from the bottle bill.


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