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[GreenYes] U.S.Bottle Bill deserves Support - Farmers Union perspective
The op-ed below ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 
October 21, 2002.  Larry Breech is president of the 
Pennsylvania Farmers Union.  The National Farmers 
Union, with 300,000 members in 26 states, has also 
endorsed Sen. Jeffords' National Beverage Producer 
Responsibility Act, S. 2220.
/Bill Sheehan
GrassRoots Recycling Network
Requiring a deposit on all beverage containers 
would bring jobs and cut litter.
By Larry Breech
Every year more than 114 billion single-
serve beverage containers made of 
aluminum, plastic and glass become waste 
or litter in the United States. Meanwhile, 
the number of containers being recycled is 
dropping fast.
In states like ours, where there are no 
deposits on bottles, only about 10 percent 
of plastic bottles are recycled. That 
means 9 out of 10 bottles are buried or 
burned as waste. More than half of all 
aluminum cans also are wasted.
In our heavily agricultural state, 
beverage containers tossed from car 
windows onto farmers' fields present 
special problems. Dairy cows suffer 
lacerated organs - and die - after chewing 
on cans. Plastic containers are ground up 
in harvesters, contaminating hay, feed and 
vegetable crops, causing millions of 
dollars in damage.
The beverage industry knows how to solve 
this: bottle bills. The 10 states with 
bills requiring deposits on containers 
recycled more containers than the 
remaining 40 states put together.
There's a way that Pennsylvanians can 
become part of this bottle-bill effort.
The National Beverage Producer 
Responsibility Act, S. 2220, sponsored by 
U.S. Sen. James M. Jeffords (I., Vt.) 
provides a new approach to container 
recycling. It addresses the concerns of 
the industry without compromising the 
public interest.
The Pennsylvania Farmers Union supports 
this bill because it would place a value - 
10 cents - on beverage containers, 
dramatically reducing the number being 
tossed onto roadsides, fields and city 
streets. Not many people would toss dimes 
from their car windows; and if they did, 
others likely would pick them up. This 
effort could provide fund-raising projects 
for groups such as the Scouts and 4H 
What's new about Jeffords' proposal is 
that it sets a performance standard that 
the industry must meet - 80 percent 
recovery, the level currently achieved in 
most of the 10 bottle-bill states. The 
proposal also allows the industry the 
freedom to design the most efficient 
deposit-return program to reach that 
By providing beverage companies the 
flexibility to structure and operate their 
own container-recovery programs, this 
legislation takes advantage of container 
distribution and handling systems already 
in effect, allowing for more efficient 
handling of returned beverage containers 
without adding administrative costs.
A national bottle bill would create jobs, 
reduce litter, save energy and protect the 
environment. Iowa reports that as a result 
of its bottle bill, 1,200 jobs have been 
created. If every state had a deposit-
return system, a total of about 100,000 
jobs could be created.
Existing beverage container recycling 
programs reduce landfill space by 20 
million cubic yards a year, or enough to 
fill Veterans Stadium during an Eagles 
game about 40 times.
But the real benefits are in energy and 
pollution reductions.
By weight, aluminum cans are a small part 
of the waste stream; but they represent 14 
percent of the potential energy present in 
municipal waste. Recycling saves 65 
percent of the energy required to make new 
cans from bauxite ore and other raw 
materials. If processed correctly, 
recycled cans could provide an enormous 
energy source.
Recycling glass and certain kinds of 
plastic bottles results in energy savings 
of about 10 percent and 50 percent, 
respectively. Reduced energy and raw 
materials consumption also means a 
reduction in pollution from manufacturing: 
pollution that causes acid rain, smog, 
global warming, and mercury-poisoned lakes 
and streams.
A survey of 189 readers of Pennsylvania 
Farmer magazine, randomly selected, 
indicated that 98 percent favored a 
returnable container law. Beverage 
containers discarded on their property 
made up the overwhelming majority of the 
Livestock deaths, crop losses, feed 
contamination, equipment damage and other 
factors bring the average litter-related 
loss in Pennsylvania to an estimated $938 
per farm. There is little a community can 
do about drought or disaster, but we can 
do something positive about litter from 
beverage containers by supporting 
Jeffords' bil

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