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[GreenYes] RE: Faulty assumptions in NYTimes Op-Ed re Bottle Bill

Jenny: while I trust you didn't mean it, you mis-directed your comments;
send them to the op-ed's author, or to the NYT..i was passing along for the
Group's FYI what was published in the newspaper of record, the NYT, which
generally has editorialized in support of an expanded bottle bill in NYS,
offering the single thought about where AL revenues go - or don't..

but I would note that in NYC, as perhaps elsewhere, municipal
economics/finance/budgets are key to sustaining recycling as a component of
solid waste management systems, as we experienced first-hand a few years ago
- until the City vastly improved the business aspects of its recycling
system..even local solid waste professionals - at least here - routinely
chide recycling re its economics.perhaps because the cost of landfilling
NYC's waste has skyrocketed, and business arrangements are sustainable,
curbside recycling now is a much more secure component..

Look forward to other comments..



From: Jenny Gitlitz [mailto:jenny.gitlitz@no.address]
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 10:32 AM
To: GreenYes@no.address
Cc: Kendall Christiansen
Subject: Faulty assumptions in NYTimes Op-Ed re Bottle Bill


You are mistaken in your conclusion that the "significant loss" of aluminum
revenue to NYC's curbside program must be curtailed by scuttling the bottle
bill, as the author of this op-ed-a grocery store owner--not a public
recycling official or an environmental professional--suggests.

First, you should be aware that the aluminum recovery rate in non-bottle
bill states is approximately 35%: half of what it is in New York's
redemption program. Through a combination of curbside recycling and deposit
redemption, New York State probably recycles closer to 80% of the cans sold
there. Curbside recycling, while indeed convenient for many residents, is
not the be-all and end-all of recycling. It does not target away-from-home
consumption, and at a national level, it is available to only half of the
American population. Curbside access has been at a plateau for 5 years
nationally; it is not likely to increase. Moreover, national data clearly
show that during the decade when curbside recycling program access tripled
in the U.S., the recycling rates for all three major beverage container
materials decreased, not increased. We believe that this apparent paradox is
due to changing consumer habits--more consumption on the go, away from the
proverbial blue bin.

More problematic still is the expectation that aluminum cans should "carry"
the recycling cost of other less lucrative materials, such as glass,
plastic, and newspaper. Where is it written that a publicly-financed
environmentally-beneficial waste management program should be economically
self-sustaining, or should even generate any materials revenues at all--when
this expectation has never been made of landfilling or incineration:
environmentally-damaging waste management methods that local governments
have financed for decades?

The fundamental problem is the expectation that the management of consumers'
wastes should be publicly-financed, period. The problem is the assumption
that the private corporations who manufacture consumer goods will continue
to take a free ride at public expense when it comes to managing the wastes
from the products they profit from. When they produce point-source
emissions--toxic effluents, for example--they are expected to clean them up
at their own expense before discharging them to a public waterway. Same with
air emissions from a factory stack. Same with industrial solid wastes: their
disposal in a hazardous waste landfill or incinerator is on their own
ticket. Why then, do they get a free ride for the end-of-life management of
their post-consumer product wastes, just because these wastes are dispersed?
Because they are "generated" in a person's car or kitchen?

Please bear in mind that the problem of beverage container waste--and
recycling--is a problem of the beverage and retail industries' own making.
They intentionally dismantled the refillable infrastructure in the 1960s and
1970s. Since then, they have aggressively marketed a dizzying array of
single-serve beverages--including water (perhaps they'll sell ice to the
Eskimos next)--and they have laughed all the way to the bank as per capita
packaged beverage consumption in the United States rose from 250 bottles and
cans in 1970 to an estimated 685 units in 2006.

Although bottle bills were primarily designed to curtail litter back in the
early 1970s, they actually were well ahead of their time as a policy measure
that fostered producer responsibility: companies being financially
responsible for their own product wastes.

No bottle bill advocate is contending that the deposit-redemption law in New
York State is a perfect recycling system. Like democracy--it's just better
than all the others.


Jennifer Gitlitz
Research Director
Container Recycling Institute

Jenny's Home Office:
2 Pomeroy Ave.
Dalton, MA 01226
Tel. (413) 684-4746
Mobile: (413) 822-0115
Fax: (413) 403-0233
Email: jenny.gitlitz@no.address

Main office, Container Recycling Institute
1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20036-1904
Tel.(202) 263-0999
Fax: (202) 263-0949

On 7/9/06 12:20 PM, "Kendall Christiansen" <kendall@no.address>

FYI..the following ran in the "City" section of Sunday's NYTimes;
Catsimatidis is prominent business leader, regarded as setting himself up to
run for Mayor after Bloomberg's second term.w/out offering an opinion re
his, one thing he neglects to mention is the significant loss of aluminum
revenue to NYC's curbside collection system due to diversion of aluminum
cans to redemption program..given the cost of collecting metal, glass and
plastic, that revenue would help the economics of the curbside system if it
wasn't split between two systems.

Look forward to responses.

Kendall Christiansen

Gaia Strategies

151 Maple Street

Brooklyn, NY 11225

o: 718.941.9535; cell: 917.359.0725


July 9, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Canning the Bottle Bill
NEW YORKERS dodged a bullet last month when the State Senate rejected a
bill, which the Assembly had earlier passed, that would have increased the
number of bottles and cans that can be returned for a 5-cent deposit at your
local grocery store.

Why am I pleased with the decision? Because the state has had a bottle bill
on the books since 1982 and besides being a disaster for me as a supermarket
owner, it's had little overall effect on recycling. If recycling is
important - and I believe it is - we need something more than bottle bills.

Let's be honest: how often do you return your bottles to the grocery store?
If you are like me, you're busy and while you are more than happy to
separate your trash, take your recyclable materials to the end of your
driveway or to the recycling area in your building, you're unlikely to lug
empty soda or beer bottles back to the supermarket. After all, the
redemption rate, or the number of containers presented for a refund versus
the total number of beer and soda containers sold, is only about 67 percent
and may actually be 10 percentage points lower because of redeemed
containers that were sold in another state.

According to research conducted by the consulting group Northbridge
Environmental for the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, the current
bottle bill ignores 98 percent of the materials now going into our
landfills. Even the proposed bottle bill expansion, which would have
required deposits on sports drinks, bottled water and iced teas, would have
captured less than two-thirds of 1 percent of what is going into our

Moreover, making food stores redemption centers has caused constant
difficulties for grocers. It's hard enough to keep stores clean and free of
vermin and insects without dealing with the mess brought by an influx of
dirty cans and bottles. Hardest hit have been the smaller urban stores,
which simply have nowhere to store or process returned bottles and cans.

New Yorkers want to recycle, but they don't want to be forced to keep and
haul dirty bottles back to stores only to face long lines in the redemption
area - as they've shown by leaving unclaimed about $91 million a year in
bottle deposits, which are essentially an additional tax on consumers.

They want recycling that is clean and simple. According to a statewide poll
conducted by Opinion Dynamics for the Food Industry Alliance, when given a
choice to support expanding the bottle deposit law or enhancing
community-recycling programs, more than 6 in 10 New Yorkers favor improving
comprehensive recycling.

Legislation has been introduced in Albany that will complement community
recycling programs and establish a recycling solution for the state. The
bill, the Recycling for Communities Act, imposes fees on the producers,
wholesalers and retailers of certain products, including newspaper
publishers, that would finance enhanced community-based recycling programs.
These programs will not only remove from the solid waste stream materials
that the bottle bill ignores, but they will also diminish litter and help us
to better manage our garbage.

The revenue that this proposal will generate is earmarked for municipal
recycling programs and community-based programs for litter prevention and
control to cost-effectively collect and recycle all materials and also clean
up litter from streets and public areas. Some of the money will also be used
to promote market development for recyclables to ensure that collected
materials are reused or remade into new products.

And we don't have to stop there. Why not put recycling bins for bottles and
newspapers on streets and in public areas? We have such receptacles on the
Metro-North train platforms - why can't they be on our sidewalks, in our
parks and in New York City subway stations?

Widespread curbside and community recycling was not in place 24 years ago
when New York's bottle law was passed. Today, New Yorkers are more aware of
separating their trash - in fact, it's become second nature to most of us.
Instead of a bottle bill, we should be looking for a more comprehensive
approach. With some more support, these community-recycling programs, along
with community-based litter programs and the availability of more recycling
receptacles, can be more effective than redeeming a bunch of soda bottles.

John A. Catsimatidis is the chairman and chief executive of a chain of New
York City supermarkets.

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