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You are mistaken in your conclusion that the "significant loss" of aluminum
revenue to NYC's curbside program must be curtailed by scuttling the bottle
bill, as the author of this op-ed?a grocery store owner--not a public
recycling official or an environmental professional--suggests.
First, you should be aware that the aluminum recovery rate in non-bottle
bill states is approximately 35%: half of what it is in New York's
redemption program. Through a combination of curbside recycling and deposit
redemption, New York State probably recycles closer to 80% of the cans sold
there. Curbside recycling, while indeed convenient for many residents, is
not the be-all and end-all of recycling. It does not target away-from-home
consumption, and at a national level, it is available to only half of the
American population. Curbside access has been at a plateau for 5 years
nationally; it is not likely to increase. Moreover, national data clearly
show that during the decade when curbside recycling program access tripled
in the U.S., the recycling rates for all three major beverage container
materials decreased, not increased. We believe that this apparent paradox is
due to changing consumer habits--more consumption on the go, away from the
proverbial blue bin.
More problematic still is the expectation that aluminum cans should "carry"
the recycling cost of other less lucrative materials, such as glass,
plastic, and newspaper. Where is it written that a publicly-financed
environmentally-beneficial waste management program should be economically
self-sustaining, or should even generate any materials revenues at all--when
this expectation has never been made of landfilling or incineration:
environmentally-damaging waste management methods that local governments
have financed for decades?
The fundamental problem is the expectation that the management of consumers'
wastes should be publicly-financed, period. The problem is the assumption
that the private corporations who manufacture consumer goods will continue
to take a free ride at public expense when it comes to managing the wastes
from the products they profit from. When they produce point-source
emissions--toxic effluents, for example--they are expected to clean them up
at their own expense before discharging them to a public waterway. Same with
air emissions from a factory stack. Same with industrial solid wastes: their
disposal in a hazardous waste landfill or incinerator is on their own
ticket. Why then, do they get a free ride for the end-of-life management of
their post-consumer product wastes, just because these wastes are dispersed?
Because they are "generated" in a person's car or kitchen?
Please bear in mind that the problem of beverage container waste--and
recycling--is a problem of the beverage and retail industries' own making.
They intentionally dismantled the refillable infrastructure in the 1960s and
1970s. Since then, they have aggressively marketed a dizzying array of
single-serve beverages--including water (perhaps they'll sell ice to the
Eskimos next)--and they have laughed all the way to the bank as per capita
packaged beverage consumption in the United States rose from 250 bottles and
cans in 1970 to an estimated 685 units in 2006.
Although bottle bills were primarily designed to curtail litter back in the
early 1970s, they actually were well ahead of their time as a policy measure
that fostered producer responsibility: companies being financially
responsible for their own product wastes.
No bottle bill advocate is contending that the deposit-redemption law in New
York State is a perfect recycling system. Like democracy--it's just better
than all the others.
Container Recycling Institute
Jenny's Home Office:
2 Pomeroy Ave.
Dalton, MA 01226
Tel. (413) 684-4746
Mobile: (413) 822-0115
Fax: (413) 403-0233
Main office, Container Recycling Institute
1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20036-1904
Fax: (202) 263-0949
On 7/9/06 12:20 PM, "Kendall Christiansen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> FYI..the following ran in the "City" section of Sunday's NYTimes; Catsimatidis
> is prominent business leader, regarded as setting himself up to run for Mayor
> after Bloomberg's second term?w/out offering an opinion re his, one thing he
> neglects to mention is the significant loss of aluminum revenue to NYC's
> curbside collection system due to diversion of aluminum cans to redemption
> program?.given the cost of collecting metal, glass and plastic, that revenue
> would help the economics of the curbside system if it wasn't split between two
> Look forward to responses?
> Kendall Christiansen
> Gaia Strategies
> 151 Maple Street
> Brooklyn, NY 11225
> o: 718.941.9535; cell: 917.359.0725
> July 9, 2006
> Op-Ed Contributor
> Canning the Bottle Bill
> By JOHN A. CATSIMATIDIS
> NEW YORKERS dodged a bullet last month when the State Senate rejected a bill,
> which the Assembly had earlier passed, that would have increased the number of
> bottles and cans that can be returned for a 5-cent deposit at your local
> grocery store.
> Why am I pleased with the decision? Because the state has had a bottle bill on
> the books since 1982 and besides being a disaster for me as a supermarket
> owner, it's had little overall effect on recycling. If recycling is important
> ? and I believe it is ? we need something more than bottle bills.
> Let's be honest: how often do you return your bottles to the grocery store? If
> you are like me, you're busy and while you are more than happy to separate
> your trash, take your recyclable materials to the end of your driveway or to
> the recycling area in your building, you're unlikely to lug empty soda or beer
> bottles back to the supermarket. After all, the redemption rate, or the number
> of containers presented for a refund versus the total number of beer and soda
> containers sold, is only about 67 percent and may actually be 10 percentage
> points lower because of redeemed containers that were sold in another state.
> According to research conducted by the consulting group Northbridge
> Environmental for the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, the current
> bottle bill ignores 98 percent of the materials now going into our landfills.
> Even the proposed bottle bill expansion, which would have required deposits on
> sports drinks, bottled water and iced teas, would have captured less than
> two-thirds of 1 percent of what is going into our landfills.
> Moreover, making food stores redemption centers has caused constant
> difficulties for grocers. It's hard enough to keep stores clean and free of
> vermin and insects without dealing with the mess brought by an influx of dirty
> cans and bottles. Hardest hit have been the smaller urban stores, which simply
> have nowhere to store or process returned bottles and cans.
> New Yorkers want to recycle, but they don't want to be forced to keep and haul
> dirty bottles back to stores only to face long lines in the redemption area ?
> as they've shown by leaving unclaimed about $91 million a year in bottle
> deposits, which are essentially an additional tax on consumers.
> They want recycling that is clean and simple. According to a statewide poll
> conducted by Opinion Dynamics for the Food Industry Alliance, when given a
> choice to support expanding the bottle deposit law or enhancing
> community-recycling programs, more than 6 in 10 New Yorkers favor improving
> comprehensive recycling.
> Legislation has been introduced in Albany that will complement community
> recycling programs and establish a recycling solution for the state. The bill,
> the Recycling for Communities Act, imposes fees on the producers, wholesalers
> and retailers of certain products, including newspaper publishers, that would
> finance enhanced community-based recycling programs. These programs will not
> only remove from the solid waste stream materials that the bottle bill
> ignores, but they will also diminish litter and help us to better manage our
> The revenue that this proposal will generate is earmarked for municipal
> recycling programs and community-based programs for litter prevention and
> control to cost-effectively collect and recycle all materials and also clean
> up litter from streets and public areas. Some of the money will also be used
> to promote market development for recyclables to ensure that collected
> materials are reused or remade into new products.
> And we don't have to stop there. Why not put recycling bins for bottles and
> newspapers on streets and in public areas? We have such receptacles on the
> Metro-North train platforms ? why can't they be on our sidewalks, in our parks
> and in New York City subway stations?
> Widespread curbside and community recycling was not in place 24 years ago when
> New York's bottle law was passed. Today, New Yorkers are more aware of
> separating their trash ? in fact, it's become second nature to most of us.
> Instead of a bottle bill, we should be looking for a more comprehensive
> approach. With some more support, these community-recycling programs, along
> with community-based litter programs and the availability of more recycling
> receptacles, can be more effective than redeeming a bunch of soda bottles.
> John A. Catsimatidis is the chairman and chief executive of a chain of New
> York City supermarkets.
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