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[GreenYes] Of all places, Hawai'i deserves a bottle bill

Honolulu Advertiser
February 8, 2002

Of all places, Hawai'i deserves a bottle bill

In a column a couple of years ago, Jan TenBruggencate, The Advertiser's
longtime environment writer, described with a touch of whimsy how the
Canadian province of Nova Scotia had successfully dealt with what was
turning into a big trash problem.

Taking drastic steps, it put into place mandatory measures  reduction,
recycling, reuse, composting. No doubt independent-minded businesses and
individuals bridled at the requirements  until they saw the results: a
50 percent trash reduction. It meant they didn't have to open new
landfills, which no one wanted in his or her back yard.

Among the least expected benefits was the discovery that there are 10
times more jobs in recycling than there are in disposal.

One of Nova Scotia's requirements is a bottle bill. "You pay 6 cents a
bottle when you buy a bottle of soft drink or water," wrote
TenBruggencate, "and get 3 cents back when you return a bottle  the
remaining cash goes to vendors and recycling programs. They now claim an
80 percent return rate."

Reacting to TenBruggencate's column, letter writer Randy Ching, from the
Sierra Club on O'ahu, wrote of a similar bottle law nearer home 
Oregon, where customers pay a nickel for any beverage container, plastic
or glass. It works there, too.

Again this year, Hawai'i's Legislature is considering a bottle bill. In
this bill, consumers would pay 7 cents a bottle, getting a nickel back
when they return it.

Are Nova Scotia and Oregon more environmentally aware and cleaner than
Hawai'i? We can't think of a place on the Earth that has more reason for
a bottle bill.

The beverage industry managed to defeat a similar bill last year by
promising to bring an alternative to the table this year. Unfortunately,
it involves taxpayer-subsidized curbside recycling, an idea that has
been tried, found expensive and ineffective in stopping bottles
littering in non-urban places.

Indeed, it's disappointing that the industry-proposed plan does not
address the large number of soft-drink containers used outside the home
and thus fails to address a major source of litter.
The bottle bill is the better idea. Let's pass it this year.

Pat Franklin
Executive Director
Container Recycling Institute
1911 Ft Myer Drive, Suite 702
Arlington, Virginia  22209
703.276.9800  fax 703.276.9587

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