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[GreenYes] 'Grassroots' not always green

The following article appeared in the Hawaii Advertiser on April 23, 2002

April 23, 2002

'Grassroots' not always green

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

Everybody is "grassroots" nowadays.

Of course, not everybody is, but everybody is sure trying to give that

Consider the debate over the bottle bill. The measure being discussed at the
Legislature would impose a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers from
aluminum cans to glass to plastic water bottles. Basically, you pay an
additional 5 cents per soda, and when you're pau, you turn the can in at a
"recovery center" and get your nickel back.
And if you go to the beach and collect rubbish, or offer to turn in your
neighbor's cans, make money, eh? An additional 2-cent fee per container
would go to the state for recycling programs.
All four county mayors are supporting the bill, along with the state
Department of Health, Sierra Club and Hawai'i's Thousand Friends.

Standing against the bill is Hawai'i Citizens for Comprehensive Recycling.
The group has dropped some bucks on radio and print ads that criticize the
Legislature for trying to slip a "new tax" by the people. The radio ad is
particularly local/us-guys sounding, with a real "Clayton and Lisa" type
couple talking stink about the bill.
Grassroots? That's what you're supposed to think. The Hawai'i Citizens for
Comprehensive Recycling is made up of food-and-beverage industry
representatives. We're not talking mom-and-pop stores. We're talking the
Pepsi Bottling Group-Hawai'i. The Big Guys.

On the other side, Rep. Mina Morita said she introduced the bill on behalf
of fifth- and sixth-graders from Kualapu'u School on Moloka'i. The kids were
assigned to identify a problem on their island, do a community poll and
research a solution. The students turned their attention to solid-waste
problems and came up with the bottle bill as a way to increase recycling
rates. Morita was impressed.

"Running parallel to these kids were solid-waste managers from all four
counties, Department of Health, some recyclers and environmentalists, and
they were researching the best way to up our recycling rate. And they came
up with the same solution," Morita said.

Last year, the Moloka'i kids came to Honolulu to testify before the
Legislature in support of "their" bill.

"The turning point for me," said Morita, "was when one of the girls got up
in this room full of adults  they were the only children in the room and
half the adults there were the lobbyists for the beverage industry  and she
looked at everybody and she said, "When I grow up, I don't want to be stuck
with your problems."

There's much to be said about the need for recycling incentives and the
value of curbside recycling  but the point is to pay close attention to
who's saying what and where they're coming from. Moloka'i is about as
grassroots as it gets.

The bill is now in conference committee. A decision needs to be made by
Friday for the bill to survive. The committee will reconvene today at 6 p.m.
in Room 312 at the State Capitol.

Patricia Franklin
Executive Director
Container Recycling Institute
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Ste. 702
Arlington, VA 22209

TEL:   703.276.9800
FAX:   703.276.9587

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