Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Why Not Enlarge Bottle Deposit Requirements?

And now for something entirely different. The privatization of water supplies, at least here in the States, has led to a barrage of empty plastic water bottles in the trash and in public places. It’s bad enough the damn’ things are used to old pretentious and overpriced consumer goods, but they don’t disintegrate any faster than empty plastic soda bottles. I’m not even sure the empty soda bottles—which at least carry a deposit—are biodegradable. And there’re the empty “sports drink” bottles and the fruit juice bottles and we still have the goddam plastic diapers!—why can’t we have a deposit on those pieces of, well, shit.

Oregon bottle bill needs modernizing at age 35, advocate says
7/3/2006, 2:31 p.m. PT
The Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's landmark bottle bill was signed into law 35 years ago — and much has changed since then. The nickel refund isn't worth as much as it was in 1971, leading to fewer returns. And the number of beverage containers not requiring the deposit has grown.

Efforts to update and expand the law have sputtered in past legislative sessions.

But that's not stopping state Rep. Vicki Berger, a Republican from Salem who is taking inspiration from her father, Richard Chambers, the man credited with being the impetus for the original bill.

Chambers urged his state legislator to introduce a bill in 1969 that would have banned all nonreturnable soda and malted beverage bottles and cans, according to Brent Walth's book, "Fire at Eden's Gate." The intention was to help lessen trash Chambers saw while hiking.

The bill failed.

But 35 years ago, Gov. Tom McCall signed a similar bill. With language that encouraged returns by offering a deposit, the language was implemented.

Berger wants to update the bill in the next legislative session.

"I cut my teeth politically on the bottle bill," she told the Salem Statesman Journal. "It started when I was in high school ... my father was obsessed with this piece of policy."

Berger introduced House Bill 2814 last session. It would have put a 10-cent deposit on wine bottles returned to the winery. But it didn't pass out of committee.

During the next session, she wants to expand the bill to include other containers, including water bottles, and updating the nickel deposit to meet inflation.

"If it were a little more expensive, it wouldn't be on the roads," she said of the discarded cans and bottles.

To match the buying power of a nickel in 1971, the refund would need to be 24 cents, according to state data.

Berger is facing opposition from beverage associations and some other groups, who argue that comprehensive recycling programs do far more than deposits on containers, which make it more expensive for retailers and beverage companies to do business.

John Matthews, who started his recycling career in 1970, said that the bottle bill helped make people aware of resources.

"In the early days, we could document a 90 percent diversion rate or better," said Matthews, recycling coordinator for Garten Services, a nonprofit agency that employs people with disabilities.

"For those items that did get littered, there were incentives for people to pick those nickels up off the ground," he said.

The return rate has fallen to about 78 percent of total beer and soft drink containers. Another 4 percent is recycled through curbside or other programs.

In states without bottle bills, 73 percent of the same types of containers end up in landfills, said Peter Spendelow of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

In 2006, the variety and number of beverage products is far greater than in 1971 — including water, juices and teas, for example. So the number of containers, especially plastic bottles, that are not subject to the bottle-bill deposit has skyrocketed.

Oregonians trashed about 77.3 million plastic water bottles in 2002. Four years earlier about 31.1 million plastic water bottles were tossed, according to the state's 2002 waste composition study.

Spendelow estimated that an expansion of the bottle bill to include all beverage containers except for dairy or paper cartons would result in collecting 3,600 tons of additional plastic, 10,300 tons of additional glass, 300 tons of additional aluminum, and 400 tons of additional steel. His numbers are based on the assumption that two-thirds of the containers disposed in 2002 would be redeemed for a deposit.


Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?