Repeal the "bottle bill"

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    Repeal the "bottle bill"

    According to an article in the Globe, "activists" are promoting a bigger and more expensive Massachusetts "bottle bill." Instead, the law we have now should be repealed. It was obsolete when enacted and has never worked. [ Unattributed, Associated Press, Activists to rally for expanded Massachusetts bottle bill, Boston Globe, June 12, 2012, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/12/activists_to_rally_for_expanded_mass_bottle_bill/ ]

    When a "bottle bill" was enacted by Oregon, in 1971, it was an idea whose time had gone. The inspiration was not recycling but bringing back reuse of bottles. From early twentieth-century into the 1960s, most soda had been sold in sturdy glass bottles that were collected by retailers, returned to bottling plants, washed and reused. From the 1920s through the 1950s, retailers usually charged a 2-cent deposit on bottles, refunded on return. Taking inflation into account, Oregon required a 5-cent deposit in 1971.

    With tiny exceptions, reuse of bottles did not return. It had been undone by technology: inexpensive polyester bottles and aluminum cans with flip-tab openers, developed over the previous decade. Bottlers no longer wanted liabilities from possibly unsanitary bottles being reused or the work of collecting bottles. Most householders no longer wanted chores of storing and returning bottles.

    If the 5-cent deposit were adjusted for inflation over the 41 years between mid-1971 and mid-2012, it would now be a 30-cent deposit. At $1.80 for a 6-pack of soda, quite a few more households would probably save and return bottles, and bottle redemption centers might be able to get enough of the deposits to stay in business. In the meantime, technology has again undermined a way of doing business. Many retailers now have automated machines that inspect and crush the containers, providing in-store credits or cash.

     
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    Bottle the Globe

    The Globe's sleazebag mix of editorial news reports today, July 25, that "advocates" want an expanded "bottle bill." [ David Abel, A bottle business pick-up, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/07/25/expanding_bottle_law_would_reduce_litter_and_help_the_poor_advocates_say/ ]

    We salute the one critic mentioned: Rep. Joseph F. Wagner of Chicopee.

    With the recycling now required in every city and town, a "bottle bill" has become a wasteful duplication of effort. Responsible people will recycle, bottle bill or no. Scofflaws will toss and run all the same.

    By wasting energy on a duplicate effort, the "bottle bill" has turned from an environmental friend into an environmental enemy.

    Repeal the bottle bill!
     
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    Re: Repeal the "bottle bill"

    AppDev,
    (1) I can only assume you have a personal stake in this. For the sake of transparency and potential bias, please let us know why this topic interests you? Is it affecting you financially? 
    (2) Why would you ask people to call their state representative for something so petty when there are much bigger issues out there? (Are you a retiree, perchance?)
    (3) As long as there is a 5c per bottle surcharge, there will be people going through the garbage of others to collect. I think this is the American Dream in action - getting rich through ingenuity and hard work. And it completely means that recycling is getting done by proxy, so those noisy party students in my neighborhood who do not care about the environment, are being forced (in a loose sense) to recycle because someone does it for them. And no doubt gets rich from their several-hundreds of empty beer bottles every weekend. 
    You forget the slothliness of most Americans. Thankfully there are a few gems out there willing to put in the hard graft to keep the country afloat. 
     
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    Non-issues and issues

    By looking a few posts back, the previous reader would have seen that there were no personal issues. In fact, after our community adopted single-stream recycling, we put out our few deposit-bearing containers in a separate basket for scavengers who used to frequent the neighborhood. It did not help, because the much increased amount of work needed to locate containers in the large bins has discouraged nearly all of them. Some "Dream"! So now, in effect, our community has no "bottle bill." We just have a "bottle tax." No one we know does anything now but put the deposit-bearing containers into the recycling bins, and no one comes along now trying to fish them out.

    No--the basic issue is foolish duplication of effort: maintaining two systems in parallel that, in the end, do the same thing. Containers are crushed, melted down and recycled as slugs of raw materials. The old system under the "bottle bill" was all most communities had until the 1990s. New systems, now required in every community, recycle many more materials and have made the old "bottle bill" system obsolete. Streets, parks, playgrounds, beaches and highways still have to be cleaned, because deposit-bearing containers are only a small fraction of the trash that scofflaws and careless visitors leave behind. The duplicate "bottle bill" system wastes energy, labor and money. Far from being an environmental hero. It is an environmental disaster.

    Repeal the "bottle bill"!

     
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    Re: Non-issues and issues

    In Response to Non-issues and issues:
    [QUOTE]By looking a few posts back, the previous reader would have seen that there were no personal issues. In fact, after our community adopted single-stream recycling, we put out our few deposit-bearing containers in a separate basket for scavengers who used to frequent the neighborhood. It did not help, because the much increased amount of work needed to locate containers in the large bins has discouraged nearly all of them. Some "Dream"! So now, in effect, our community has no "bottle bill." We just have a "bottle tax." No one we know does anything now but put the deposit-bearing containers into the recycling bins, and no one comes along now trying to fish them out. No--the basic issue is foolish duplication of effort: maintaining two systems in parallel that, in the end, do the same thing. Containers are crushed, melted down and recycled as slugs of raw materials. The old system under the "bottle bill" was all most communities had until the 1990s. New systems, now required in every community, recycle many more materials and have made the old "bottle bill" system obsolete. Streets, parks, playgrounds, beaches and highways still have to be cleaned, because deposit-bearing containers are only a small fraction of the trash that scofflaws and careless visitors leave behind. The duplicate "bottle bill" system wastes energy, labor and money. Far from being an environmental hero. It is an environmental disaster. Repeal the "bottle bill"!
    Posted by AppDev[/QUOTE]

    So what you are saying is that in your specific area everyone is so rich that nobody collects the bottles discarded from others. Bully for you, living in such an uppercrust place, but this is not a general case. More often than not there are several people going through the trash to get to the bottles. Especially so in a recession. Let me know where you live so I can mention your area to my own scavengers, they will be very thankful to have a completely untapped resource available! Sounds like rich pickings :)
    I think that your argument is backwards. What you seem to be arguing for is the exact reverse of what you say i.e. enforced subsidies on ALL recyclable goods rather than just plastics/bottles/cans. That way many more people will have a financial incentive to recycle. The alternative is paying for trash disposal by weight, thus forcing people to recycle and compost to the extreme to keep payments to the minimum (this is actually being tested in some areas in the world). 


     
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    Repeal the "bottle bill"

    According to an article in the Globe, "activists" are promoting a bigger and more expensive Massachusetts "bottle bill." Instead, the law we have now should be repealed. It was obsolete when enacted and has never worked. [ Unattributed, Associated Press, Activists to rally for expanded Massachusetts bottle bill, Boston Globe, June 12, 2012, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/12/activists_to_rally_for_expanded_mass_bottle_bill/ ]

    When a "bottle bill" was enacted by Oregon, in 1971, it was an idea whose time had gone. The inspiration was not recycling but bringing back reuse of bottles. From early twentieth-century into the 1960s, most soda had been sold in sturdy glass bottles that were collected by retailers, returned to bottling plants, washed and reused. From the 1920s through the 1950s, retailers usually charged a 2-cent deposit on bottles, refunded on return. Taking inflation into account, Oregon required a 5-cent deposit in 1971.

    With tiny exceptions, reuse of bottles did not return. It had been undone by technology: inexpensive polyester bottles and aluminum cans with flip-tab openers, developed over the previous decade. Bottlers no longer wanted liabilities from possibly unsanitary bottles being reused or the work of collecting bottles. Most householders no longer wanted chores of storing and returning bottles.

    If the 5-cent deposit were adjusted for inflation over the 41 years between mid-1971 and mid-2012, it would now be a 30-cent deposit. At $1.80 for a 6-pack of soda, quite a few more households would probably save and return bottles, and bottle redemption centers might be able to get enough of the deposits to stay in business. In the meantime, technology has again undermined a way of doing business. Many retailers now have automated machines that inspect and crush the containers, providing in-store credits or cash.

     
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    Spinning the bottle

    The foolishness of the "bottle bill" for today's recycling-intensive society is probably easiest to see by imagining it had never been invented. Today, when even the plainest recycling handles a dozen different materials, if there had never been a "bottle bill," would anyone spend political capital trying to promote one? Here's guessing it likely would not be thought of and, if it were, would never make the cut.

    Another way to read the same tea leaves is to face up honestly to what it would take to restore the "bottle bill" to the vigor it once had: much more money. When Oregon visionaries came up with the 5-cent deposit in 1971, they boosted the 2-cent deposit that took hold in the 1940s for inflation. In Massachusetts, there has never been any more adjustment; it is still five cents.

    If we really took the "bottle bill" seriously, we would adjust the deposit for inflation since 1971, and it would turn into a 30-cent deposit. That would restore big paper bags to their former places near back doors, and soon we all would be collecting $7 and change at the market for a couple dozen empties. Scavenging on trash pick-up days and at the dumps would soon wither; there would be little left to find.

    Of course, nothing like that is going to happen. Our members of the Great and General Court might have some trouble with long division, but they can all count. These are the folks who saw what would be coming and refused to add a nickel to the gas tax. Hiking the "bottle tax" to 30 cents would land more than a few State House careers on the political chopping blocks. And for what?

    Repeal the "bottle bill"!

     
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    Bottle-crazed loonies lose again this year

    You'd never know it from legislatively challenged reporters at either the Globe or the Herald, but the loonies who want to expand the state's "bottle bill" to more kinds of bottles were beaten back by the House speaker we love to hate, who said he was not going to expand a "bottle tax." The loonies and their Senate toadies howled at that, but our stumbling, bumbling governor admitted that Speaker DeLeo was right. "Gov. Deval Patrick...has estimated the expansion would bring the state $22 million in unredeemed deposits...." [ Emily Jed, Massachusetts lawmakers drop bottle bill from jobs act, Vending Times, August 2, 2012, at http://www.vendingtimes.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=EB79A487112B48A296B38C81345C8C7F&nm=Vending+Features&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=DCC083A6BCE249418239B15AA7E9F540 ]

    Repeal the "bottle bill"!

     
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    Re: Repeal the "bottle bill"

    Appdev never responded to how this pushes costs on to the local departments of health responsible for the trash. He clearly did not say that this would be a huge tax hike for towns. I geuss he missed that part of my message.
    Appdev, EACH CONTAINER COLLECTED IN MY TOWN COSTS MONEY TO GO TO THE SORT FACILITY. Just saying. Appdev lives in his own world were that is not important. It is important here as the round trip for our containers is 80 miles.
     

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