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September 29, 2009

News OK

Trash talk: Two suggestions for reducing litter

Trash bales containing plastic bags are lined up near a hill of buried refuse in the Enid city landfill on the south edge of the city, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009. Photo by Jim Beckel

In Enid, officials are considering attacking litter by banning plastic bags. At the Capitol, a lawmaker wants to attack litter by raising the price of bottled and canned beverages. It’ll be interesting to see whether the ideas take hold or wind up in the trash heap.

Enid recently baled a dozen large round bales of wind-blown trash and plastic bags found near Enid’s landfill. The city manager says plastic bags constitute "the single largest item of fence decoration” in those parts and suggests they might ought to be banned. The head of Enid’s chamber of commerce acknowledges the city’s good intentions but expects a ban "will probably not be received favorably by some retailers and consumers.”

The same can be said for state Rep. Ryan Kiesel’s proposed bottle deposit program. Kiesel, D-Seminole, wishes to ask consumers to pay a 5-cent deposit on soft drink and beer bottles and cans, and on water bottles. They would get their deposits refunded on returning the beverage containers. Money from unredeemed deposits would go to the state — Kiesel figures that could be millions of dollars each year.

He expects such a law would reduce litter. Perhaps, although to what extent is debatable. He says it would increase state revenue "without raising taxes,” a point that is sure to be argued when his bill is introduced next year.

Kiesel will try to sell his idea to his colleagues. But our sense is that if such programs, which rely on consumers not taking an active part, were really worthwhile, they’d be up and running in more than just 11 states.


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