Re: Refillable Bottles

Carol Slechta (
Fri, 21 May 1999 17:44:45 -0400

Redemption worked when housewives and footloose little kids
returned heavy glass bottles to the stores. Those days are
over. The value to the consumer is just not high enough.

The key obstacle to all recycling is the lack of an easy, centralized
approach to collecting all items. Every single thing that a consumer
discards should be collected by the municipality and from there
distributed to various organizations--free, if necessary to stimulate
an use for it. Serious recycling at this point requires hours of a
consumer's week. Only retirees can make this type of effort. In
some cities, discarding more than your alloted weeks' worth of
"trash" costs $35/bin, so there is great incentive to fill the recycling
bin with whatever the city will take. This should be true in the whole


-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Carter <>
To: <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>
Date: Thursday, May 20, 1999 12:27 AM
Subject: Re: Refillable Bottles

>I wholeheartedly support the return of returnables. My job situation does
>not allow me to take a leadership role at this time or to participate from
>my workplace, but I'd do what I can from home in my "spare" time.
>The key obstacles I see to refilling systems now is our consolidated
>grocery retailing system that favors megamerchandisers which can contract
>to supply regional and national grocery chains. Return of refillables over
>the distances supplied by present-day major bottling plants would be
>expensive in money and energy. Grocers also work harder to squeeze profit
>from every square foot of floor space and every hour of staff time, and the
>handling of refillables has a relatively low return on investment.
>I agree with Martin that local brands produced in metro areas are the best
>prospects for new refilling systems. The tough question is not who would
>be interested in bottling their beverage in refillables, but who will be
>willing to accept the empties back? Maybe the California redemption system
>is a model to consider -- don't ask the supermarkets to redeem the bottles,
>but get them to assure that there is a redemption center within a certain
>distance that will do so. If they don't have to handle the bottles, maybe
>they won't mind selling beverages in refillable bottles and collecting the
>deposits (for a small handling fee), especially if consumers are demanding
>On the manufacturing front: The glass bottle makers have been major
>opponents of deposit systems but supporters of recycling, partly on the
>logic that people buy more bottles if the bottles can't be refilled.
>Perhaps the industry will soon be willing to rethink that logic as they
>rapidly lose market share to plastic and metal.
> --Bill
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