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February 11, 2008

Marianas Variety

Military agrees to participate in bottle recycling
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

THE "bottle bill," which proposes to levy a refundable nickel deposit on recyclable beverage containers, has passed one major hurdle when the military agreed to support the civilian community's proposed recycling program.

"We had a positive meeting with military officials last week and they all agreed to work out a way to participate in our recycling efforts," said Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, who wrote a draft bill aimed at accelerating the recycling efforts on Guam.

The military's agreement to participate in the program "is a big step toward our recycling effort," said Barnes, who met with Judge Advocates Paul Fisher of the Navy and Lt. Col. Stephen Shrewsbury of Andersen Air Force Base last week.

Under the bill, which is still in its draft form, a customer would be required to pay an extra five cents per can or bottle of a beverage. The deposit can be retrieved from any redemption center that will receive the empty beverage containers, including aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles.

Barnes said she will finalize the "bottle bill," and introduce it by next week.

* Support *

She said the local business community, specifically the beverage distributors, have agreed to support the bill provided that the military would come on board.

Barnes said JAG attorneys also noted that in the upcoming defense authorization bill, the military would be required to purchase their beer from local distributors.

The proposed requirement to patronize the civilian business was an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo.

"This will benefit MidPac, Ambros, and other smaller distributors of beer, and make it quite simple for deposits to be applied island-wide, at least on those specific products. Sen. Tina's draft bottle bill will have to be amended to provide for that eventuality," according to Bill Phillips, Barnes' chief of staff.

"This is good news for those who support cleaning up our island and recycling. It should also make it easier for local beverage distributors to support a container deposit recycling program, because an 80 percent recycling rate is common in bottle bill jurisdictions," he added.

Barnes first introduced the "bottle bill" in the 27th Legislature. The proposal, however, was bottled up, so to speak, because the civilian community could not get the military's commitment to participate in the proposed bottle recycling plan.

Civilian retailers gave the original bill a lukewarm response, worried that they would lose business to the commissaries and exchanges inside Andersen Air Force Base and the Navy Base.

"When I spoke to Admiral Bill French, he told me that he would support our program. He said he could not speak in reference to the past military decision," Barnes said.

"I have sent letters to the business community and informed them about this positive development," she added.

Under the draft bill, titled "Recycling Act of 2009," the bottle deposit program would be fully implemented by Oct. 1, 2009.

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