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March 25, 2008

Pacific Daily News

Recycle: Bottle bill will help reduce waste stream, encourage recycling

Enacting a bottle bill makes perfect sense for Guam, given the island's limited land mass and longstanding trash crisis.

Bill 244, written by Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, aims to encourage recycling on Guam. The bottle bill establishes a mandatory deposit fee on certain beverage containers. The deposit would be assessed to customers, who would get the money back when they redeem the empty container.

There are many benefits that would be realized from this measure, but more importantly, the island needs this type of legislation to encourage recycling efforts islandwide. The redeemable deposits will motivate people to return beverage containers to redemption centers instead of throwing them away. This will help significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes into our overflowing dump, and eventually, extend the life of our new sanitary landfill after it's built. Government-funded studies have shown that states that have implemented a bottle bill reported less beverage container litter and more recycling compared to states without such legislation.

The deposit fees will also lead to less trash left in our parks, beaches and along roadsides. Not only will people be less willing to throw beverage containers away, but there will be those more than willing to pick them up for redemption. This bill will help our visitor industry by making popular spots cleaner.

In addition to a cleaner environment, the measure will also spur economic activity. Redemption centers will be needed around the island, leading to the creation of more jobs and tax-paying businesses.

The bottle bill also will help promote a recycling mindset for more members of the community. The I-Recycle Program has helped kick start recycling efforts for aluminum cans. This measure could expand those efforts and lead toward a comprehensive, islandwide recycling program.

There have been several attempts to start recycling programs through bottle bills in past years, but the island's trash crisis makes it more important to move forward and enact this legislation. If approved, the government will have to work with the private company appointed to oversee the island's solid waste system.

We urge senators to move forward with passing this bill and urge the governor to sign it into law. When it comes to recycling, the entire community needs to step up, and this bill is a step toward that effort.


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