SPEAK OUT: Make bottle redemption worth our while
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Feb 24, 2010 @ 05:00 AM
COMMENTARY — By RICH HENDRICK, FOR THE PATRIOT LEDGER
I am responding to the Feb. 8 Ledger article on the new bottle bill, “State aims to expand returns.”
Gov. Deval Patrick could care less about the environmental aspects of the bill. It’s all about revenue enhancement.
He wants the state to turn back $5 million of a projected $20 million take to the Department of Environment Protection.
In other words, the state gets 100 percent of the added revenue; 25 percent to clean up the environment and 75 percent to be buried in the general fund.
This is in addition to current revenues derived from bottles not redeemed.
Judeth Van Hamm, president of Sustainable South Shore, attests to the fact the current bottle bill is not working: “Walking the Hull beaches and seeing water bottles discarded along shoreline leaves her frustrated,” and rightly so.
How many times have you noticed returnable beer and soda bottles – worth a whole nickel – littering the clover leafs?
A nickel deposit isn’t cutting it.
In 1956 I was 10 years old, and I got a nickel refund on every bottle I could scrounge. I even went door-to-door, and neighbors eagerly surrendered there nickel bottle refunds.
That’s when you could get a piece of penny candy for a penny, and gasoline was some where south of 20 cents a gallon. Now a 1956 nickel is worth 40 cents in 2010 dollars.
Given this fact, I have a message for the governor and Ms. Van Hamm: The bottles on the beach and the $20 million in the state coffers are there because a nickel isn’t worth five cents. My kids abhor pennies and won’t even bend over to pick up a nickel.
If they won’t pick up a nickel, what makes you think they will cart a smelly, dirty bottle to a redemption center for a nickel refund?
The bottle bill is about three issues: Reducing pollution, increase recycling and creating a monetary reward that induces the desired behavior.
Here’s the solution: Raise the bottle refundable deposit to a minimum of 10 cents on all plastic and glass containers.
Why not include those bulky laundry detergent bottles at the very least?
If you raise the refundable deposit to a reasonable level, you will induce the desired behavior.
The operative word here is “refundable.” This is not an increased cost to the average consumer.
Along with this change, the fee allotted to the redemption centers should be increased.
More redemption centers facilitates the return process and adds jobs.
If the redemption price is right, maybe cities and towns wouldn’t need that extra set of recycling pick-up trucks, thereby reducing trash bids.
Rich Hendrick lives in Weymouth.