RE: [GRRN] Bottles vs. Cans

Helen Spiegelman (
Fri, 05 Feb 1999 10:16:19 -0800

At 10:39 AM 2/5/99 -0700, HANSON@LIFENT.LIFE.ARIZONA.EDU wrote:
I have long wondered why the same theory was
>never implemented throughout the United States for aluminum, plastic
and>glass jars.

The reason is a sustained campaign of lobbying by the producers of products
sold in those aluminum, plastic and glass jars. Bills to introduce
state/province and national deposit/return programs have failed because of
high$$ lobbying by these industries.

No one ever minded paying the deposit because they always>knew they would
get the money back when they returned the bottles.

In the 10 US states, 8 Canadian provinces where there are mandatory
deposit/return programs, the public supports these programs. Efforts (by
beverage producers) to rescind the laws have failed by overwhelming
referendum vote margins. Further, people support these programs by their
PARTICIPATION. Upwards of 80% of refundable containers are turned in for
recycling to stores and depots (where refund programs are in place), while
less than 30% of non-refundable containers are turned in through voluntary,
taxpayer-funded municipal programs.

>Several states such as California are doing this but there should be
no>reason why all 50 aren't doing it!

In a globalized economy, producers are always demanding "harmonization" of
environmental laws, so companies can sell into many markets. We must
demand that laws be harmonized UP, not down. All US states and Canadian
provinces should be enjoying the >80% recycling rates achieved through
deposit/return programs, at no cost to the taxpayer, rather than the <30%
recycling rates achieved through voluntary, taxpayer-funded municipal and
non-profit recycling programs.

I have just organized the UARC>...We have a long way to go but it>is a
unified effort to do something.

What you are doing is very important. You are encouraging your institution
to implement sound waste management practices. It is very important to
realize that well over 75% of the waste that you are dealing with is
MANUFACTURED PRODUCTS AND PACKAGING . Your institution should be working
with your SUPPLIERS to take responsibility for the disposable products and
packaging they ship to you. A purchasing policy which favours suppliers who
of transforming our economy into a linear economy, where products go
straight from producer to dump, to a circular economy where products are
the responsibility of producers from cradle to cradle.
>I would love to know if there are efforts out there to promote a
bottle>tax nationwide, or what a person has to do to get their state to
think>about such an implementation.

I'm sure Pat Franklin of Container Recycling Institute will respond to your
posting. I urge you to visit their website at

There you will find opportunities to support initiatives for a national
bottle bill!

> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Helen Spiegelman []
>> Sent: Friday, February 05, 1999 8:35 AM
>> To: Bill Sheehan;
>> Subject: Re: [GRRN] Bottles vs. Cans
>> Hello, list:
>> Those of us living in places where great rivers have been despoiled to
>> create hydroelectric dams to support aluminum smelters (e.g. Alcan's
>> smelter in British Columbia) have very mixed feelings about aluminum
>> beverage containers -- especially when our cans travel south (to Beria
>> Kentucky) to be recyled into new can sheet -- job exports.
>> Even though aluminum brings revenues to scavengers in local
>> communities, I
>> see these revenues as "guilt money" from the perpetrators of
>> beverages, who
>> should be collecting back all their containers and not leaving that
>> task to
>> local university students (even the "conduct cases").
>> At the very least, university students and other well-meaning citizens
>> who
>> take the trouble to clean up after transnational corporations and
>> their
>> consumers should be ensured a decent rate of return for their efforts.
>> Here in British Columbia, aluminum and plastic and glass containers
>> all pay
>> scavengers the same revenues: 5 cents for small containers and 20
>> cents
>> for large ones. These are the deposit refunds for these containers. It
>> is
>> not the scavengers, but the beverage companies, who pay the higher
>> cost to
>> recycle plastic or glass, when these companies have to market the
>> material
>> themselves.
>> This way, the deposit/return system (like other Product Stewardship
>> programs in British Columbia) feed the cost back to the producer,
>> creating
>> a direct economic incentive for producers to come up with the most
>> cost-effective product and packaging system.
>> Surely any university student who's taken Econ 101 can see the
>> benefits of
>> internalizing environmental and social costs in the prices of
>> products.
>> Helen Spiegelman
>> 3570 West 22nd Avenue
>> Vancouver, British Columbia
>> 604/731-8464
>> 604/731-8463 (fax)
Helen Spiegelman
3570 West 22nd Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia

604/731-8463 (fax)