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December 23, 2007

Pacific Daily News

Bottle bill, alcohol restrictions would help reduce illegal littering
By Berrie Straatman

Whatever happened to the "bottle bill" that was introduced during the 27th Guam Legislature by Sen. Tina Muna Barnes? Did it go to file "13" because of opposition by the beverage industry? Did our "brave" senators again cave in to special interest rather than choose what is best for the island's future?

Is it not ironic that this same industry now introduced recycling bins at the schools to recycle aluminum cans? Apparently this was not because of their concerns for the environment but mainly for economic reasons as it is more cost effective to use recycled cans to make new cans than manufacturing from scratch.

The fact that it is good for the environment is just an added benefit. It takes 95 percent less energy to recycle aluminum cans, an important advantage in reducing greenhouse gasses.
The "I-Recycle" program somehow reduces the amount of aluminum cans going to the dump and the financial reward to the schools is a good incentive, but not everybody will cooperate and it has had little impact on those "slobs" that continue to litter.

A refundable deposit on all beverage containers, which is already standard in many places around the world, would ensure that most aluminum cans as well as glass and plastic bottles are being recycled. Again this would be a benefit to our environment as well as reduce litter and reduce waste.

Illegal littering

In addition, raising the drinking age to 21 and restricting certain public areas from alcohol consumption would also reduce illegal littering.

A "bottle bill" would also be a financial benefit to our island as not all beverage containers are being returned for a refund. There are always those that just don't care.

Hawaii has about a 70 percent return on their 5 cent deposits, leaving 30 percent unclaimed. Using the same estimates for Guam this would account to about a $1.4 million annual windfall for the government of Guam. At 10 cents deposit the return rate might be 80 percent, which would then give a $1.9 million windfall to the government.

This money could partly be used to cover the additional cost of processing the deposits and refunds with the balance going to a special fund.

Berrie Straatman is a resident of Tamuning.


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