Undeniably, there are societal and environmental costs associated with manufacturing and disposing of beverage containers. The question we ultimately need to explore and resolve is “Who pays these costs?” Under the present insanity, the government is responsible to provide adequate waste disposal facilities and (we), the taxpayers pay the monetary costs. But the environment takes the brunt of the load – either in the form of landfill overuse, or litter along our streets, waterways and ultimately our oceans. This is madness! Why can’t the costs be shifted to the original producers and consumers of the containers in the first place! Well,…maybe they can…
Container-deposit laws are not new. Such laws require a minimum refundable deposit on beer, soft drink and other beverage containers in order to ensure a higher rate of recycling or reuse. For decades we drank beer and soda from refillable glass bottles that were reused dozens of times. The deposit-refund system was a means of ensuring the glass bottles would be returned to be washed, refilled and resold.
Bottle bills create a privately-funded collection infrastructure for beverage containers, making producers and consumers (rather than taxpayers) responsible for the packaging waste they generate. Beverage containers compose 40-60% of litter, and a deposit of 05-10 cents encourages people to return these containers – keeping them off the streets and out of the wilderness, waterways and oceans. According to industry estimates, one-third of beverages are consumed on the go – away from the home recycling bin and often in places where recycling is not available. The refundable deposit helps ensure that these containers are saved and recycled. In addition, recycling beverage containers rather than manufacturing new ones conserves enormous amounts of energy reducing the emission of corresponding greenhouse gasses.
Advocates of deposit systems have historically pointed to the environmental benefits of bottle bills including litter reduction and resource conservation. In recent years 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.
Container laws work. No state has ever repealed their container law. Of the ten US States that have enacted them, three states have EXPANDED their original bills to include other containers. Container laws reduce litter, create jobs, and result in dramatically higher container recycling rates.
Isn’t it time for the madness to end? Marine pollution is NOT sexy! Act now – Save the Ocean!