The bottle fee is again re-emerging at the Legislature and we need to weigh in on how far we will go for convenience
Minnesota lawmakers are considering a proposed 10-cent fee for bottles and cans in an effort to increase recycling volume that has been relatively stagnant.
Whether it is this proposal or some other, we need a solution.
In the recent past, there were generations who lived by the philosophy of “waste not, want not.” Those were during earlier hard economic times and necessity forced us to patch, repair, use and re-use as many items as we could until they fell apart.
Some generations today even take pride in the fact that they can squeeze all the available life out of a product before having to throw it away.
But times have changed.
With modernization and increased productivity we can churn out products more cheaply and make them available for more people to enjoy and consume.
But there is a tradeoff. With such convenience came a whole workforce that fell aside....
But with convenience came responsibility. Waste facilities started to mount and trash hills became mountains. Municipalities began expanding their solid waste disposal services to handle such throwaway products until it became socially and environmentally unacceptable to be so conspicuously and unconsciously wasteful.
With our newfound conscience, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, solid waste per person peaked in 2000 and the recycling rate has increased from 10 percent of waste in 1980 to 34 percent in 2011.
But this government service comes with a government cost. And that’s where we are now. With increasing demand that governments find ways to reduce costs, Minnesota is looking to reduce its cost of recycling and put the burden elsewhere. ... (T)he state’s recycling rate has been stuck at 45 percent and state officials would like that to hit 80 percent.
The proposal may include charging consumers 10-cents on any beverage container less than a gallon. The money would be refunded at nonprofit collection centers, one in each county at least. Businesses could participate voluntarily and even “reverse vending machines” could be installed.
Reportedly this move would bring about 77 percent of beverage containers available in the marketplace that could be collected....
Critics warn that consumers would consume less and the burden of costly sanitary storage would fall unfairly on businesses. Other lobbyists told the Star-Tribune that the state already is a leader in recycling “without the onerous bottle deposit system.”’
The news organization also reported that current waste and recycling haulers could lose $4.6 million in revenue resulting in the loss of jobs.
Paul Gardner, executive director of Recycling Reinvented in Shoreview, said the report was “typical of the many tradeoffs in recycling. Everyone wants the benefits but not the costs.” ...
- The Mankato, Minn., Free Press