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[greenyes] Bottle Bill Poll Re: [greenyes] Plastic bottles pile up as mountains of waste

Can you refer me to any evidence on the negative effects of bottle bills in the states that have them? I think they are good. And how do bottle bills jeopardize public health? Here's why and rebuttals to some of Dan's arguments:

Bottle bills are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage bottles and cans for recycling. The refund value of the container (usually 5 or 10 cents) provides a monetary incentive to return the container for recycling.
Bottle Bills...
Supply recyclable materials for a high-demand market
Conserve energy and natural resources
Create new businesses and jobs
Reduce waste disposal costs
Reduce litter

No State Bottle Bill has ever been repealed!
The collection and recycling of beer and soda containers in bottle bill states has created tens of thousands of new jobs in retail, distribution and recycling. In states that have a handling fee, a redemption industry has evolved to redeem empty containers. Often these redemption centers expand into small retail operations. In the bottling market, the shift from glass to polyethylene terephthalate or PET plastic bottles was not unique to deposit law states, but occurred throughout the entire U.S. soft drink market.







165 - 227

348 ? 410

Numbers from a report made for the Oregon State Legislative Fiscal Office (did not include increases in retail employment).









Net job gains estimated by CALPIRG; includes new jobs in recycling.





JOB GAINS: Employment increased primarily where bottlers used the refillable bottle process (production line workers, sorters, and bottle wash­ers); Employment gains for brewers and MI Liquor Control Commission data produces an estimate of 68 new hires; Beer distribu­tors? employment gains were due in part to in­creased frequency of delivering to retailers and picking up empty containers.

JOB LOSSES: 73 jobs were lost when the National Can Co. closed its plant in Livonia, MI and 167 jobs were lost when employment was reduced at the Owens-Illinois glass plant in Charlotte.




4,317 ? 5,079

Container manufacturers reported the loss of 135 jobs with the decline for metal cans in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government report.





DNR reported that 1,200 jobs, w/ annual income of $17,000 to $21,000 attributed to the bottle bill.

Sales & Prices

It is extremely difficult to determine the impact of deposit laws on sales. Many factors unrelated to deposit laws have contributed to varying consumption patterns including changes in the legal drinking age, fluctuations in tourism, industry price increases and general economic conditions. In Michigan, for example, the year the deposit law was enacted coincided with one of the worst recessions in recent history, with unemployment in double digits and tens of thousands of residents moving to the Sun Belt. The general pattern of beverage sales in deposit law states has been a slight decline followed by a return to normal growth patterns. Sales figures for a 3-5 year period after the law was passed show sales increased at or above the national average in most of the states with deposit laws.

OR [1]
Deposit law implemented October 1972


+ 1.4 %

SOFT DRINKS: sales figures not precise?some reports say sales stayed the same in 1972 while other reports estimate a 10% increase; BEER: Total beer sales in OR grew by 1.4% and packaged sales were level on a volume basis

VT [2]
Deposit law implemented September 1973



No data available immediately following implementation

ME [3]
Deposit law implemented January 1978

Increased for one bottler, decreased for another bottler

- 4.4 % between 1977 and 1978, but grew again in 1979

SOFT DRINKS: 2 bottlers interviewed?one went over completely to refillable containers and experienced increase in sales, and the other experienced a decrease in sales (17% drop in sales from 1977-1978); BEER: ME changed its legal drinking age from 18 ? 20 in 1978

MI [4]
Deposit law implemented December 1978

- 5 to 10 %

- 3.6 % (barrel sales) from 1978 to 1979;
+1 for MI breweries

SOFT DRINKS: bottlers and retailers incurred additional costs to implement the law; retailers reduced the number of brands and variety of containers available in individual stores b/c of the additional space required to process returned containers; BEER: factors that may have contributed to the decrease includes: 1) a decrease in tourism; 2) an increase in prices (accounts for 40-80 percent of the loss in sales); 3) a reduction in the number of brands available at retails stores because space was needed for container redemption; 4) the drinking age was raised from 18-21, eliminating one half of a million customers; 5) the population of Michigan decreased by over a quarter million people from 1978 to 1979; 6) unemployment rose approximately 1-2%

Deposit law implemented September 1983


- 6 %[5]

IA [6]
Deposit law implemented mid-1979

+ 29.4 % in 1979;
+ 14.59 % in 1980

+ .86 % in 1979 and
- .58 % in 1980

Beer sales are compared to a national average of 2.91

MA [7]
Deposit law implemented in 1983


- 3.43 % in 1983

In 1983, the drinking age was raised; the drop in beer sales matched the rate of drop in the previous year

CT [8]
Deposit law implemented January 1980

+ 17.11 %

- 6.1 % in 1980

SOFT DRINKS: This increase occurred during the first year of the law?s implementation; BEER: Grew at a rate of 6.83% between 1981 and 1983

OR [9]



1973 retail price rose for beer in OR, but also in neighboring WA where nonmandatory deposit system.

VT [10]

No increase related to bottle bill

+ 15 ? 19 cents a six-pack

SOFT DRINKS: EPA states prices did not change immediately after deposit legislation, but shows an eventual 5-10 cent increase per carton (consistent w/ nationwide price increases); BEER: EPA figures show wholesale prices increased approximately 15 cents a six-pack in addition to the deposit after the law went into effect; Nardworny study states the cost increased 19 cents. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show a nationwide 10% rise in beer prices in 1973 (EPA figures show no increase greater than the nationwide average and Nardworny figures show a 3-4 cent hike)




NY [11]


+ 11 ? 18 %

About half of the increase resulted from mandated costs imposed by the law, and another portion was attributable to inflation (i.e., increased price of beer ingredients3)




Shortly after implementation of the Massachusetts bottle bill, Donald J. Dowd, Vice President of Coca-Cola New England was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying, ?Our prices pre-bottle bill and post-bottle bill are virtually the same.?

Rebuttals to Top 10 Arguments Used Against the Bottle Bill

1. ARGUMENT: Deposit systems target a small part of the waste stream (less than 3% of municipal solid waste (MSW) by weight).

REBUTTAL: While soda containers are only 2.7% of the waste stream, all beverage containers (excluding milk containers) are 4.4 % of the waste stream. [1]More important, the upstream environmental effects of container wasting are disproportionately high . For example, beverage containers account for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from landfilling a ton of MSW and replacing the wasted products with new products made from virgin materials. [2]

2. ARGUMENT: Deposits aren't needed where there is curbside recycling.

REBUTTAL : Complementary systems get best results in a diverse society (see #3 below).

3. ARGUMENT: Per ton collected, deposits are more expensive than other programs.


a) Deposits are also much more effective (bang for the buck ). The BEAR report found that a combination of recycling methods in 10 deposits states recycles 490 containers per capita per year, at a cost of 1.53¢/unit, vs. 191 containers per capita per year at 1.25¢/unit in 40 non-deposit states (which rely on curbsides and drop-offs to do the whole job). In other words, at an additional cost of only 1.5¢ per six-pack, beverage container recovery rates in deposit states are more than two and a half times higher than in states without bottle bills. [3]

b) Under deposit systems, the cost of recycling is borne by producers and consumers , not by government and taxpayers.

4. ARGUMENT: Deposits rob curbside programs of valuable aluminum can revenue.


a) As it is, curbsides are failing to adequately capture aluminum cans . Despite a tripling in curbside access in last decade (2,711 programs in 1990, 9,709 in 2000), the U.S. aluminum can recycling rate went from 65% in 1992 to 49% in 2001. [4]

b) Curbsides do not target cans consumed away from home .

c) Aluminum cans are being gradually supplanted by PET bottles , [5] so they cannot be counted on as a stable revenue source indefinitely.

d) Deposits reduce collection costs by removing cumbersome, low-value glass and plastic bottles from the stream . Plastic bottles are cumbersome to collect at curbside (low weight-to-volume ratio) [6]; mixed-color glass is heavy and has a low scrap value, and is often impossible to market. [7]

e) It is unfair to expect one container type to "carry" the others .

f) It is unfair to expect curbside recycling to generate revenue when this expectation has never been made of landfilling or incineration .

5. ARGUMENT: Deposit return is inconvenient (consumers prefer home curbside bins).


a) Curbside is still not available to 50% of the American population. [8]

b) Curbsides don't address away-from-home consumption.

c) Tripling of curbside access in last decade has not stemmed the tide of waste. [9]

d) People are going back to the store to shop anyway; special trips are rare. [10]

6. ARGUMENT: Deposit systems address a small portion of litter: 7 to 25 percent.


a) Beverage containers comprise 40-60% of litter . The Solid Waste Coordinators of Kentucky found that 58% of litter collected consisted of beverage containers, pull tabs, and closures. [11]

b) Deposit laws significantly reduce container litter AND other types of litter . Following the implementation of bottle bills in various states, container litter has been reduced by 69 to 84 percent (including in New York) [12], while total litter has been reduced by 34-64 percent. [13]

7. ARGUMENT: Deposit returns are expensive for distributors.


a) There is a cost to dealing with beverage container waste, whether through recycling or disposal; it will either be borne by government or by brand-owners, distributors, and beverage consumers.

b) Distributors have taken back-hauling out of the distribution system; they have the ability to design it back in .

c) Distributors will pass the cost of handling on to consumers .

8. ARGUMENT: "Deposits are a tax" and increase the price of beverages.


a) Unlike taxes, deposits are 100% refundable .

b) Handling costs passed on to consumer will be small: a few pennies per six-pack (see #3 above).

9. ARGUMENT: Deposits reduce sales. Consumers will shop in nearby town/other state.

REBUTTAL: States already have differing sales taxes, etc .

10. ARGUMENT: Disliked by retailers (incompatible with food sales; sanitation/storage issues)


a) No health problems associated with deposit systems have ever been documented . [14]

b) Redemption centers and reverse vending machines mitigate the perception of problems .

[1]Glass beer and soft drinks bottles: 2.5%; Glass wine and liquor bottles: 0.8%; Aluminum beer and soft drink cans: 0.7%; Plastic soft drink bottles: 0.4%. From: Table 19, "Products Generated in the Municipal Waste Stream, 1960 to 2000 (with detail on containers and packaging)" in "Municipal Solid Waste in The United States: 2000 Facts and Figures." Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5305W) EPA530-R-02-001, June 2002.

[2]" Energy to Waste?" Usman Valiente, Solid Waste and Recycling , April/May 2000.

[3]Table ES-1, " Understanding Beverage Container Recycling: A Value Chain Assessment Prepared for the Multi-Stakeholder Recovery Project. " Global Green USA, January 16, 2002.

[4] Tripling of curbside access in last decade from "The State of Garbage in America," BioCycle, December 2001. Rising tide of [container] waste in last decade: 1.21 million tons of containers and packaging were landfilled or incinerated in 2000, up from 1.17 million tons in 1990. Source: Table 17 "Products Discarded in the Municipal Waste Stream, 1960 to 2000 (with detail on nondurable goods)," Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5305W) EPA530-R-02-001, June 2002.

[5] Table 2.1 "Beverage Package Market: Volume, Share and Growth by Package Type 1997 - 1999 (r)." in " Beverage Packaging in the U.S., 2000 Edition." Beverage Marketing Corporation, October 2000. n MS-Word

[6] Aluminum cans collected at curbside yield about $32/cubic yard in gross revenues, compared to about $5 and $15 for PET and glass bottles respectively. Derived from the following data: weight-to-volume ratios for whole uncompacted containers (in lbs/cubic yard): glass bottles: 600; PET bottles: 40; aluminum cans: 62.5. Source: "Appendix B: Standard Volume-to-Weight Conversion Factors," in "Measuring Recycling: A Guide for State and Local Governments." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5306W) EPA530-R-97-011, September 1997. Prices for materials in October 2002: aluminum cans: $0.51/lb; PET bottles: $0.07/lb; Glass bottles: $0.025/lb. Source: Container Recycling Report, Vol. 13, No. 12, Dec. 2002, Portland, OR.

[7]Jenny Gitlitz . "Glass Recycling Market Trends, Contamination Problems Discussed." American Recycler Vol. 4 No.10, Oct. 2001.

[8] Derived from data in "The State of Garbage in America," BioCycle, December 2001.

[9] Tripling of curbside access in last decade from "The State of Garbage in America," BioCycle, December 2001. Rising tide of [container] waste in last decade: 1.21 million tons of containers and packaging were landfilled or incinerated in 2000, up from 1.17 million tons in 1990. Source: Table 17 "Products Discarded in the Municipal Waste Stream, 1960 to 2000 (with detail on nondurable goods)," Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (5305W) EPA530-R-02-001, June 2002.

[10] Report by DSM Environmental Services, Inc. (Contact CRI for title and date ).

[11] "Litter in Kentucky: A View from the Field." Solid Waste Coordinators of Kentucky, May 1999.

[12] Beverage container litter reduction: 69-77% in Maine ( p. 9, "State's Experience With Beverage Container Deposit Laws Shows Positive Benefits." U.S. General Accounting Office/Comptroller General of the United States, December 11, 1980); 84% in Michigan ("Michigan Roadside Litter Composition Survey: Final Report." Michigan Department of Transportation, Maintenance Division. December 1979); 70-80% in New York ("Final Report of the Temporary State Commission on Returnable Beverage Containers," March 27, 1985).

[13]Total litter reduction: 30% in Massachusetts (" Bottle Bills in the 1980's: A Handbook for Effective Citizen Action," Environmental Action Foundation, August 1987), 34-64% in Maine (U.S. General Accounting Office/Comptroller General of the United States, December 11, 1980), 47% in Oregon (p. 26, "Oregon's Bottle Bill: The 1982 Report," Oregon Department of Environmental Quality).

[14] Survey conducted by the Container Recycling Institute in 2001. Health departments in all 10 bottle bill states were contacted and asked to report incindences of health code violations, or documented cases of tranmission of infection due to deposit systems. None were reported.

Consumer and environmental advocates say prosecutors often lack the resources to pursue every violator of the law. Allowing individuals or advocacy groups to sue on behalf of the public instead of a specific victim helps force companies to clean up environmental messes or stop fraudulent practices whose effects are difficult to calculate in strictly financial terms.

Consumer advocates used the law recently to force Kaiser Permanente, the state's largest HMO, to disclose to patients the guidelines doctors use to treat ailments. The state attorney general used the law in 2002 to sue oil giant BP for failing to upgrade underground storage tanks that leaked MTBE, a fuel additive that is a known carcinogen.

James Branham, undersecretary at the Environmental Protection Agency, said representatives of his agency have talked with aides preparing the legislation to ensure that "the end product truly focuses on correcting problems and not unnecessarily limiting the ability" to enforce environmental laws.

Still, Jamie Court, an activist with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said that "if the governor steps onto the side of (fraudulent or polluting) companies and against communities and against the environment, then he's making society a whole lot less safer place."

Business groups say that no matter the law's intentions, it is ripe for abuse.

Two years ago, three lawyers from The Trevor Law Group, a Beverly Hills firm, made millions by forcing thousands of auto dealers, nail salons and auto-repair shops to settle costly lawsuits over minor violations of the law. Last year, the lawyers resigned from the state bar and were sued by the attorney general.

"It represents a significant cost to business, a cost that doesn't need to be there. This is sort of a cost that you can't predict, and it represents predatory legal practices," said Dominic DeMare, lobbyist for the California Chamber of Commerce.

State Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, said Schwarzenegger's support for reform is "the same old conservative Republican approach. The business community forever wants to curtail the tort system to prevent consumers from holding them responsible for their negligence and misconduct."

Dunn, a trial lawyer by profession, said Schwarzenegger may have signed on to reforming the law simply "to talk about it in front of business groups to crank up contributions. Reform measures won't get through the Legislature unless they're fair."

Many of the companies donating money to put the reform initiative on the November ballot have given heavily to the governor.

Auto dealers around the state, who collectively gave nearly $500,000 to Schwarzenegger during the recall, have donated $3.2 million to the initiative. Other large donors include American International Group, a multinational insurance firm that gave $100,000 to Schwarzenegger in November and $25,000 to the initiative the following month.

Some prominent lawsuits using Business and Professions Code section 17200:
California Disability Rights Inc. v. Warner-Lambert: Disability-rights activists sued drug manufacturer for failing to warn consumers that Rezulin, a diabetes drug, causes liver damage. The case is pending.
Hewlett v. Squaw Valley Ski Corp.: Activists sued ski resort for illegally cutting trees for a new ski run. The court halted the cutting.
People v. First Federal Credit Corp.: Consumers sued credit corporation for misleading borrowers about loan terms and forcing them to pay larger cancellation fees than agreed upon. The court found more than 300 separate violations.
Warren v. Safeway Stores Inc.:Consumers sued grocery chain for changing dates on meat packages so expired meat could be sold as fresh. Safeway changed its labeling practices.

The real point of tort reform isn?t to prevent multimillion-dollar jury verdicts; most of those awards are reversed or overturned, and even if they weren?t, a $1 million dollar verdict isn?t much deterrent to a company that makes ten billion dollars a year. So what is the point of tort reform? It?s to keep the misdeeds of corporate America out of the public eye. After all, if a plaintiff?s ?best day in court? is arbitrarily set at $250,000.00, there?s no incentive to go through a lengthy and expensive trial if the plaintiff is offered $250,000.00 by a company that sells a defective product. Such a settlement would almost certainly be confidential, and the company could continue selling their defective product and killing or maiming consumers without anyone knowing of the dangers of the product. Confidential settlements kept the problems with Firestone tires a secret for years before the recent lawsuits. To put a finer point on it, confidential settlements killed Firestone consumers;
it wasn?t until public litigation began that Firestone recalled tires that they had for years known were defective.

The real effect of tort reform will be to ensure that corporations can keep their dirty laundry private, and to place the financial well-being of a corporation above the physical well-being of their consumers. It?s a sad commentary on our society?s values that corporations will pay more money for defrauding investors out of money than for knowingly selling products that kill their consumers.

Haven't U.S. Jury Verdicts Driven Manufacturers Out of Business and Put People Out of Work?

Tort reformers often argue that large jury verdicts and the high liability insurance rates they bring have forced U.S. manufacturers to shut their doors, thus putting people out of work and abandoning markets to foreign manufacturers.

However, there's a problem with that theory: Any foreign corporation that does business in America has consented to be sued in American courts. Thus, foreign manufacturers are also routinely sued in American courts, under American law, and subjected to American jury verdicts.

So, why aren't foreign manufacturers being driven out of business - or at least out of this country - by American jury verdicts?

There are two possibilities as I see it. The first possibility is that foreign manufacturers just make better, safer products than their American counterparts. If this is true - and I doubt it is - then American consumers are better off.

The second possibility is that other factors have caused manufacturers to shut their doors. Between our high taxes on gas and the ability of foreign competitors to pay .10 per hour for labor, it's easy to see why American manufacturers can't compete with their foreign competitors. And those factors have nothing to do with our justice system.

The "Lawsuits put people out of work!" argument is flawed because foreign manufacturers are able to flourish in the U.S. market, despite their exposure to the same "runaway verdicts" that are supposedly putting American manufacturers out of business.

So I'm left to wonder - Why aren't foreign corporations going out of business because of "runaway jury verdicts," and why aren't foreign insurance companies raising their liability rates because of "frivolous lawsuits?"

Could it be that American corporations are going out of business because of a poor economic climate, and that American insurers are raising their rates because they made bad investments? You decide.

Recycling one plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 60-watt light bulb for 6 hours

Dan Weisenbach <dan@no.address> wrote:

Unfortunately, the results from this poll are completely useless. The question is so poorly worded that the choice of responses is not directly related to the question of a national bottle bill.


Should Congress pass a national law requiring a deposit on all beverage containers?

- Yes, the amount being trashed is getting out of hand.

- No, it takes more energy to recycle those containers than to make new ones.

- Can't decide


<<<<there have been over 6920 responses, with the results running:

Yes 83%

No 13%

Can't decide 4%


My guess is that the result would be very different if the response choices were different.

What if . . .

Yes = We need a burdensome bureaucracy to cripple small businesses, increase the costs of groceries and jeopardize the health of the public.

No = we should encourage more recycling of plastic bottles by lowering taxes on new businesses, supporting tort reform, and eliminating property taxes on machinery and inventory.


The above is merely an illustration of how a poll can be skewed to achieve any outcome.

When the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) conducts a poll of its members, they give the history of the question, a description of the proposal and supply a pro and con debate on the topic. Then the choices are 1) Yes, 2) No, 3) Undecided, and 4) not interested.

I can imagine that people will quote the results of this MSNBC poll and then be dumbfounded when legislation is not passed. Some might even complain of "voting irregularities."

Think it through.

Dan Weisenbach

Vice-Chairman, Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention Advisory Council

Weisenbach Specialty Printing Inc.

On Wed, 02 Mar 2005 11:41:45 -0500, Christine McCoy wrote:
> Plastic bottles pile up as mountains of waste
> Americans are guzzling more water out of plastic bottles than ever
> before, but recycling fewer -- in part because so many of the
> bottles are used outside the home.

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