| As I wrote last month regarding the bottle bill debate, this bill is largely contentious among many. Ten U.S. states have bottle bills and still others have active campaigns for new bottle bills. Although support for deposit laws is widespread, there are some groups, especially members of the beverage production and retail industries, that consistently try to prevent bottle bills from being passed or expanded. Their arguments concentrate on the increased costs to bottlers, distributors and retailers, which they claim result in higher prices to consumers. They also contend that bottle bills reduce sales and eliminate jobs in the container industry.|
The following is a list of facts and myths presented by the Container Recycling Institute:
Myth: Deposit systems target only a small part of the waste stream(less than 3% of municipal solid waste by weight)
Fact: While soda containers constitute less than 1% of the waste stream, all carbonated beverages bring the total to 4% of the waste stream, and all beverage containers (including milk, also excluding pouches, gabletop and aseptic) are 5.6% of the waste stream. More important, the upstream environmental effects of container wasting are disproportionately high. For example, beverage containers account for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from landfilling a ton of MSW and replacing the wasted products with new products made from virgin materials.
Myth: Deposit systems address a small portion of litter: 7 to 25%
Fact: Beverage containers comprise 40-60% of litter. The Solid Waste Coordinators of Kentucky found that 58% of litter collected consisted of beverage containers, pull tabs, and closures. Deposit laws significantly reduce container litter and other types of litter. Following the implementation of bottle bills in various states, container litter has been reduced by 69 to 84%, while total litter has been reduced by 34-64%.
Myth: Deposits arenít needed where there is curbside recycling.
Fact: Curbside recycling and deposit systems are not mutually exclusive. Together they can be part of a comprehensive approach to recycling. Not only are combined curbside and deposit systems more effective than curbside recycling programs alone, the materials collected through deposit programs are of a much higher quality than materials collected through curbside recycling programs.
Myth: Deposit return is inconvenient (consumers prefer home curbside bins.
Fact: Curbside is still not available to 50% of the American population. Curbsides donít address away-from-home consumption. Tripling of curbside access has not stemmed the tide of waste. People are going back to the store to shop anyway.
Myth: Deposits rob curbside programs of valuable aluminum can revenue.
Fact: Curbside programs are failing to adequately capture aluminum cans. Despite a tripling in curbside access in the last decade, the U.S. aluminum can recycling rate went from 65% in 1992 to 49% in 2001. Curbside programs do not target cans consumed away from home. Aluminum cans are gradually being supplanted by plastic bottles. Deposits reduce collection costs by removing cumbersome, low-value glass and plastic bottles from the stream. Plastic bottles are cumbersome to collect at curbside (low weight-to-volume ratio); mixed-color glass is heavy and has a low scrap value, and is often impossible to market.
Myth: Deposits are more expensive than other recycling programs.
Fact: While their initial costs may be more, deposits are much more effective than other recycling and waste reduction programs, resulting in more bang for the buck. Under deposit systems, the cost of recycling is borne by producers and consumers, not by government and taxpayers.
Myth: Deposit returns are expensive for distributors.
Fact: There is a cost to dealing with beverage container waste, whether through recycling or disposal, it will either be borne by government or by brand-owners, distributors, and beverage consumers. Distributors have taken back-hauling out of the distribution system; they have the ability to design it back in. Distributors have the option of passing the cost of handling on to the consumers.
Myth: Deposits are a tax and increase the price of beverages.
Fact: When there is a refundable deposit on beverage containers, the consumers (not taxpayers) pay the deposit. The deposit is refunded if the container is returned. And the beverage distributors and bottlers absorb the cost of collection. They then choose whether or not to pass their costs on to their consumers.
Advocates of deposit systems have historically pointed to the environmental benefits of bottle bills including litter reduction and energy and resource conservation. They have also emphasized the waste diversion and job creation benefits of bottle bills. They further argue that bottle bills shift the costs of litter cleanup, recycling, and waste disposal from government and taxpayers to producers and consumers of beverage containers.
They advocate the benefits of bottle bills saying they prevent litter, promote recycling and waste reduction, create jobs, encourage producer and consumer responsibility, provide financial incentives for recycling, help the environment, complement curbside recycling, produce high-quality recyclable materials and create more opportunities to recycle.
Whichever side the fence you sit on, this debate does not look like it is going to go away anytime soon.
I have not proposed to agree or join with either side, but just to offer a thought provoking idea and information.