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December 3, 2001
Atlanta, Georgia


Well, it seems the dirty little secrets about Iowa and the bottle bill 
expansion continues to bring out some of the dumbest concepts every devised 
by a human mind.

Let us talk about the people and players who are stuck with making the bottle 
bill effort work.  

Iowa, along with all the other states who have embraced this flawed concept, 
has  serious problems with the convenience store owners who seem to be 
carrying the brunt of this bottle redemption program in Iowa. The horror 
stories keep piling up, and Ms. Franklin's organization just takes "damn the 
torpedoes" approach to this crazy concept.

The convenience stores are suffering financially due to what many consider an 
illegal activity by the Iowa legislature to delegate the stores who sell the 
beverage containers, whether grocery stores or the gas stations (food marts), 
to take back the waste bottles or containers.

The grocery stores are by far the largest sellers of the beverages, but have 
the lowest redemption due to the redeemer who takes the path of least 
resistance and pulls into a convenience store since they can hop out, redeem, 
and leave. The grocery store is more time consuming, and requires a longer 
wait. People who redeem in Iowa tend to redeem several of the beverage 
containers, usually a 50 gallon plastic bag full. Herein begins the first 
step of the nightmare.

The stores were not built to process, accommodate, or store the plastic waste 
containers. They should not have to.

I personally witnessed several people in line at an Iowa store (about 6 
people ahead of me) with 30 to 50 gallon bags full, waiting for the attendant 
count individual each bag to determine the number of containers to prepare 
the refund, which I think was about 5 cents per unit.

Ignoring the ten minute wait in line, the place behind the counter was 
stacked with plastic bags, effectively cutting off the cashier from moving 
out from behind the counter. She was trapped. She was gripping that the fool 
who thought up this program should be eliminated from the planet. She was 
livid about wasting her time rather than getting paying customers out the 

I waited to discuss with her and the store manager the problems of this 
bottle bill. It was an eye opener, and a major reason why I oppose the bottle 

Here are her complaints, as well as the manager of the store. This is the 
same story you get all over Iowa at the retail level. This is also true in 
all of the bottle bill states.

The wasted time processing the redemption. The owner of the store is not 
reimbursed for his time utilized by the employees.

The space required to stack these bags in the store until they can be moved 
outside the store out back. Again, these bags have to be moved again. Time 
and labor costs not reimbursed.

Once outside the story, the bigger mess is all these bags stacked up or 
overflowing from the dumpsters. This cost is borne by the store owner, using 
his land and space without compensation. The locations were very untidy.

Here is the second biggest nightmare. People come in pickup trucks at night 
and steal the bags and take and redeem the bottles again. This is the biggest 
insult, and now the owner is fighting mad at the fools who dreamed up this 
absurd bottle bill.

The large food chains are also fed up with this due to labor and space 

This whole process is not "cost effective" no matter what angle you analyze 
it from. It is a concept that needs to be discarded.

You will not see the food chains and the convenience stores signing any 
letters to expand the bottle bill. It is another "make me feel good about it" 
and make someone else the loser for it. It is the same flawed thinking when 
certain recycling groups want to force the beverage companies into taking 
contaminated bottles and put into new plastic bottles. Have you ever seen 
some of the bottles they actual recycle? You would never sign onto such a 
crazy plan is you knew what some of the bottles were used for before being 
collected. It is dangerous, and the beverage companies do not want the legal 

Ms. Franklin has failed to embrace better and more thorough technologies 
since this fly in the face of common sense and possibly her inability to 
evaluate the various technologies. It is time the more sensible programs take 
over, and instead of this stupid hype that implies this Iowa bill in the 
greatest thing since fire and water.

The Iowa business men who signed this letter are obviously very ignorant of 
the problems of the program. The problems are being masked, and Ms. Franklin 
knows this. They have brought into a flawed concept that is hurting many 
retail outlets financially. It seems the goal is actually to eliminate 
plastics as a carry out item and force back the paper cups.

Dr. Paul Cato
Atlanta, Georgia

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