Monday, July 13, 2009

Ask Jack Markell to Veto the Un-Bottle Bill

House Bill 201, the bill to repeal Delaware's original bottle bill, passed the Senate in the early morning of July 1, when most environmental advocates had already gone home. Now advocates are organizing to ask Jack Markell to veto this regressive and short sighted measure.
Pat Todd of the Delaware League of Women Voters writes, "Delaware’s Bottle Bill Law needs to be strengthened to include aluminum cans and 2-liter plastic bottles, not repealed." DNREC secretary Collin O’Mara spoke against HB 201 before the House Natural Resources Committee, saying "mend it, don’t end it."
My view is that if the current system is flawed, it should not be repealed, but included as part of a larger effort to improve recycling in Delaware. As I wrote three years ago,
recycling has enormous economic benefits. Financial analysis can quantify the value of postponing the construction of a new landfill in northern Delaware, a reality Markell recognized in a speech back in April:
Expanding recycling: despite the short-term economics of recycled materials, it will be much more cost-effective in the long-term to prioritize recycling instead of the purchase of another landfill site (assuming we could even identify one).
We should be going forward on recycling, not backward. If you agree, please contact Governor Markell today and ask him to veto HB 201. Even though the session ended 12 days ago, the bill may not yet have reached his desk, so there is still time to weigh in on this issue. Tell him TommyWonk sent you.

12 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Willing said...

Thanks for the tip, Tom. I hadn't heard anything about a backlash on this short-sighted legislation. I will help spread the word.

9:37 AM, July 13, 2009  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

Thanks Nancy.

9:49 AM, July 13, 2009  
Anonymous Bill Dunn said...

As a person who has spent the bulk of his 25 year career “for a major Chemical Company” working with polyesters (PPT, PBT and PET [i.e. plastic bottles]), I have always been confused as to why the recycling of PET has not been emphasized in the recycling movement.
Thirty years ago, straight out of high school, I work in a “plastashield Pepsi bottle” factory in New Castle. Back then there was a percentage of the ‘preform” bottle that was “regrind” polymer, meaning the first time a given bottle went through the molding process it didn’t meet quality standards, so it was recycled to make a bottle that did. Now, there was a quality standard that controlled how much “regrind” you could add to new polymer, nonetheless some was used. Similarly, establishing a set recycled polymer quality standard, some of the bottles could be used for new bottles and the rest could be used for applications that might have less demanding standards.

Let me know what I can do to help.

10:57 AM, July 13, 2009  
Anonymous LiberalGeek said...

Tom - do we have any documentation of the return rate on the bottles under the current law? I know I end up recycling my plastic bottles now, rather than turn them back in at Wawa.

It is my understanding that Wawa gets to keep that nickle today. If the bottle bill was simply a way of lining the pockets of retailers (not to mention vending machine operators) then let's find something better.

1:37 PM, July 13, 2009  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

I do not have the return rate handy.

I too just put my bottles in the curbside recycling bin, which means forgoing the five cent deposit.

1:51 PM, July 13, 2009  
Anonymous LiberalGeek said...

So who gets that nickel? The retailer, the distributor or the State?

4:21 PM, July 13, 2009  
Anonymous RSmitty said...

"back in the day..." when I did retail management with Happy Harry's, the route manager (and driver) for the local Coke distributor told me that the 5-cent per bottle deposit was worked into the invoicing between the store and the distributor. This was based soley on inventory counts with the store. So, if the calculation was that the store sold 20 bottles, then an extra $1.00 was worked onto the invoice for the store to pay the distributor. Separately, if 20 bottles were returned to the distributor (via the store), then that $1.00 was credited back to the store. Now, I did not handle invoicing, so I never saw that, but this is what I got straight from the person who dealt with it.

Then, consider that they refused to take anything back from the store if it was short of a case. I never, in my handful of years working there, ever took an entire case of these bottles back from a customer. Over time a case could be built, BUT it had to be like-bottles. So, a Coke bottle and a Sprite bottle were NOT like bottles (one clear and one green). It was a BITCH!

So, you want to fix it? Fine, fix it. Force them to no longer allow refusal based on full cases or bottle type. If they distributed it, they take it back, period. Also, the deposit money goes to environmental-friendly programs and any refunds come back from that same pathway. Get the distributors out of that equation.

5:50 PM, July 13, 2009  
Blogger Steve said...

Deposits states recycle about 72% of beverage containers, while non-deposit states recycle about 28%. About 79% of residents in bottle bill states have access also to curbside recycling, 37% in non-bottle bill states. A bottle bill and curbside recycling work well together. The bottle bill needs updated to include more types of containers and to return the unclaimed deposits to a state fund, perhaps to fund curbside recycling or other environmental programs. The failure of the program in Delaware contrasts the success of bottle bill programs in other states. The purpose of a deposit is and does promote recycling, not line a pocket.(Under the current law, distributors keep the unclaimed deposits. "Short a case" isn't an issue.)

6:33 PM, July 13, 2009  
Anonymous LiberalGeek said...

I agree. If the bottle bill puts the unclaimed deposits into a fund for recycling, great. As it stands, it appears to be a slush-fund for distributors.

I wonder how the actual experiences in Delaware (one year into a good recycling program) stack up to the generic numbers on Steve's comment.

Of course, that isn't on the Governors desk. The bill is a repeal. So, do we continue to keep Coke, Pepsi and beer distributors in their slush, or keep the change until we fix it?

10:17 PM, July 13, 2009  
Blogger Marge Davis said...

From Tennessee, where we're inching closer to a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers:

I'm so glad to see these posts, and earnestly hope Governor Markell heeds the call to veto HB201. Despite beverage-industry claims, bottle bills have not been made obsolete by curbside recycling. On the contrary, they are more relevant than ever, thanks to rising energy prices, dwindling landfill space and more aggressive sustainability goals set by major manufacturers and trade associations.

Curbside is useful, for sure, but it's not the be-all and end-all that bottle-bill opponents claim it is. Curbside can be costly, it's not universally available, it yields far lower recovery rates than container deposits, and it produces a less marketable material, especially when glass and plastic are part of the mix.

Rather than abandon the bottle bill, Governor Markell should ask that it be retooled to meet today's economic, environmental and market conditions. For instance, it should (1) cover all container types; (2) cover all beverage types; (3) use redemption centers rather than stores to take back the empty containers; (4) use scrap buyers rather than distributors to transport them for processing; (5) designate the state or a third party to manage the money; and (6) pay for itself, as much as possible, with the scrap value plus the unclaimed deposits. This is what California has done, and it's how the TN bill is designed.

5:02 AM, July 14, 2009  
Anonymous RSmitty said...

"Short a case" isn't an issue

BUZZ! Granted, this was over ten years ago at this point, but I am a direct witness to the refusal of the distributors' representatives (read: drivers/route mgr) refusal to accept short-cases of returns. Coke, Pepsi, and Canada-Dry, all three of them refused to take them. How was I a direct witness? Simple. I was the person they said, "NO" to! If it sincerely does not happen today, then good, they are playing by the rules, but don't pretend it doesn't exist, or at least didn't.

8:16 AM, July 14, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The companies selling the drinks keep the 5 cent deposit. Call WaWa and ask them. The store pays the 5 cent deposit which is why stores are no longer accepting the bottles - it cost them money and it cost them room for storage and maybe they take the bottles to recycle. The bottles get left on the roadside or are otherwise not recycled by individuals. There is no enforcement of the stores who refuse to take the bottles. The law does not work.

12:32 PM, July 14, 2009  

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