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Bill Could Make Cleaning Up Litter Profitable

Posted July 17, 2007

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Could a bottle of water, can of soda or bottle of beer end up costing consumers more if a state senator’s proposal passes in the General Assembly?

Lobbyists for the beverage industry say yes.

Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin, however, says his Litter Reduction Act 2007 would clean highways, boost recycling and create jobs.

“I have touched no bill since I've been in the Legislature that was more popular with the people and more despised by special interests,” he said.

The proposal would charge consumers a 10-cent deposit on every aluminum, glass or plastic beverage container.

“It creates an economic incentive for people to pick up roadside garbage,” he said.

But the lobbyists for the makers of such products as Coca-Cola and Pepsi argue that deposits hurt sales and don’t clean highways.

“How are you going to get a 10-cent deposit on a French wine bottle?” Kevin Dietly a consultant representing the beverage industry, told a group Tuesday. “Somebody in a warehouse someplace is going to have to open that case of wine and put a 10-cent deposit sticker on every single bottle. Think that's going to be cheap? It's not cheap, it's a foolish way to recycle beverage containers.”

Berger’s bill is unlike the old days in which a person would collect empty bottles and containers and return them to a grocery store and be paid by a cashier. Instead, there would be a series of state-regulated redemption centers.

Aluminum, plastic and glass bottles make up 7 percent of North Carolina's roadside trash. And with 93 percent of trash left behind, bill opponents say it is not worth setting up a new state bureaucracy.

Supporters say it is time to do something. The bill is currently up for debate in the Senate.

Six states -- South Carolina, Maryland, Illinois, West Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas -- have similar bottle bill campaigns. The deposit amount is 5 or 10 cents in these states.

202 Comments

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  • wlm Jul 18, 2007

    It is very likely that counties that have convenience centers would add redemption centers at the same location, so rural residents could get a refund when they drop off their trash. Municipalities that have curbside recycling would be able to recover the deposits, which should allow them to reduce or eliminate any fee that residents may otherwise pay for recycling. Redemption centers will only be used if they are convenient for consumers, so the ones that are will thrive and the others will end up closing. I visited a redemption center in California that was in the middle of a commercial area, so it can work.

  • Nancy Jul 18, 2007

    timbo, how about knocking off the personal attacks? Are you mature enough?

    How about this topic is something I believe in, is that good enough?

  • RJ Jul 18, 2007

    Good idea.

  • Joshua Jul 18, 2007

    SO now, instead of using my recycling bin and carrying it to the curb once a week (very convenient and efficient), I have to take my bottles and cans to a redemption center or 'lose' my deposit, and waste fossil fuel and polute the air by driving to the redemption center?
    Waste not, want not. Mandatory (curb-side) recycling would make a lot more sense. Though, I'm sure many will scream about the inconvenience of doing something that they should have been doing all along.

  • hawk_fan Jul 18, 2007

    The N&O stated that the bill will be shelved until next year. The Bottling Industry flew in "experts" who recommended anti-littering advertising to young adults instead.

    By the way, from your car you probably won't notice lots of bottles and cans, but if you have ever volunteered with Adopt a Highway, that's mainly what you are pulling out of the ditches. At least, that has been my experience.

  • Nancy Jul 18, 2007

    "I think that as citizens see littering we should be able to report it and the offenders issued heafty citations."

    There is already a number to do just that. Now, do you think the police will rush right out to chase down someone? Do you think that's a good use of police?

  • HadEnough Jul 18, 2007

    I think that as citizens see littering we should be able to report it and the offenders issued heafty citations.

  • ncboy Jul 18, 2007

    actually guys it does work as far as recycling goes...i moved to vermont and lived there for nine years and i can tell you that when you pay, in vt's case .05 cents, you will return them to get your money back...of course it doesn't help all the other litter lazy people throw out their car windows

  • ladyblue Jul 17, 2007

    Lolly 52 said it all. I also went through this as mentioned in my other post. But one more thing. Look beside the road and tell me how many soda bottles you see as opposed to cans, paper from fast food stores, truck recaps, pieces of cars on road side from wrecks, plastic bags, trash falling off trucks, plastic bottles. Got that picture. Now how is a deposit going to help when you rarely see a glass bottle on the highways. Most of the homeless around here pick up cans and bottles. I have a suggestion. Pass a bill to stop making plastic bags and bottles that will not even dissolve in the landfills.

  • Nancy Jul 17, 2007

    "Nancy, why don't you move to New England or New York or any one of the places you think is so beautiful and progressive and leave us rednecks and hillbillies alone? And please take your bottle tax with you. Last time I was in NY City it was the dirtiest place in the world. If that is what a bottle tax gets you I'll take NC and its liter anytime.

    Now I have a logical solution for all this nonsense. Throw the cans and bottles in your garbage, tie up the bag and throw it in the landfill. Forget the tax! Problem solved!"

    I have not lived in NY state since 1967, before they began their bottle deposit program, but I visit often (not NYC, there is an entire state attached to that city in case you need to be made aware)because I have family there.

    So you would rather just throw recyclables into the landfill because it would be a burden on you to return them?

    Got it.

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