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[greenyes] Hawaii Bottle Bill Fight

Bottle Bill Faces Delay, Problems
Wed Apr 28, 1:59 AM ET

The bottle deposit bill that's supposed to start in 2005 has both supporters and critics crying foul. That's because the beverage industry wants more time. While environmentalists feel they're purposely delaying the new law.

Retailers and the bottling industry are working hard to persuade lawmakers to delay the bottle bill. Environmentalist claim by delaying opponents hope to eventually get the bill repealed.

The Sierra Club (news - web sites) gathered Tuesday to stress that the bottle bill is ready to go and should kick off on schedule Jan. 1.

Under the law, Hawaii consumers will have to pay a 6-cent deposit on every beverage container they buy in glass, aluminum or plastic.

That's a 5-cent refundable deposit on each container and a 1-cent non-refundable handling fee.

Supporters of the program Tuesday chided the bottling industry for saying it's not ready.

"There is really no good excuse for the industry. it is simply at this last minute their attempt to delay or kill the bottle bill," said Gary Gill of the Sierra Club.

"I don't think we would be sad about a repeal at all, but the fact is, the law is on the books and we have to deal with that. What we are saying at this point is beside that issue we need to know what the rules are in order to play that game," said Tim Lyons of Anheuser Busch Co.

Bottling companies said they need up to a year more to get ready because the Health Department has yet come up with final rules on how they should label the bottles.

"All the beverage companies have had two years to label their bottles and cans. if they haven't done it they have no one to blame but themselves," Gill said.

"We need to know what the rules of the game are. not what they are going to be but what they are," Lyons said.

The Sierra Club said even though final rules are pending, some responsible bottlers already have moved ahead and labeled their containers with the Hawaii deposit designation because they expect the law to begin in January.

Sources at the Legislature said despite this last minute maneuvering, the bottle bill should kick off as scheduled in January with all bottlers required to be ready with their labels.

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