Propose a pop bottle bill here, please
By Kathleen Goddeyne
Every time I finish a pop, better known as soda to most Westerners, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. It’s not the sugar rush or the caffeine boost; those artificial energizers never let me down. My disappointment is linked with the writing on the can, or lack thereof. I wish Colorado were included in the recycle refund section.
I was born and raised in Michigan, where citizens have the opportunity to earn cash back on recyclable items. Any airtight metal, glass, paper, plastic containers, or a combination under one gallon have a dime deposit per can or bottle on top of the product price. While this may seem unappealing, most Michiganders love it and for good reason. Once you’ve finished enjoying your beverage of choice, you can take the cans back to the supermarket to get your deposit back.
I’ve always felt like the program was a way of saving money. Ultimately, families are going to purchase these products and most store the empties until their trash bins are overflowing at which time they take a trip to their local grocery store for their refund.
Eight other states participate in similar programs with a five-cent deposit, including Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Iowa, Hawaii, Oregon, and Delaware. Michigan has the highest refund value and according to bottlebill.org, the state also has the highest recycling rate.
This is most likely due to the beneficial nature of the bill for both recyclers and the environment. Many families save their recyclable items for several months before turning them back in to receive their return deposit.
Since Michigan’s bottle bill took effect in 1990, the state has seen a reduction in solid waste by six to eight percent yearly. Michigan also has the highest rate of return out of all bottle bill states by nearly ten percent. According to Michiganrecycles.org, recycling is a $2 billion per year industry. In 1999, recycling provided 5,687 jobs and $243 million in wages for the state.
I’m confused as to why Colorado doesn’t have a similar program. A bottle bill for a five-cent deposit was proposed in 2011, but was killed by the committee in late February of that year. The bill, House Bill 1247, proposed that 10 percent of the recycling resources go to the economic opportunity fund, 40 percent would be put toward the state education fund and the remaining 50 percent would go toward administrative costs.
Due to a scandal in California in which residents of nearby states were caught trying to defraud the system by redeeming containers from their state in California, negative light was shed on similar bills. Republicans also argued that the program would have been a drain on Colorado’s budget.
Michigan experienced the same issue as California, but simply solved the problem by introducing a series of amending acts, which were passed in 2008. The acts prevent fraudulent redemption by requiring a machine-readable, state-specific mark placed on all 12 ounce metal or glass and 20 ounce plastic containers if they are sold in a volume over 500,000 cases per year.
There are ways to create a bottle bill that works for our state. I’m just wondering why an environmentally friendly state like ours hasn’t figured it out yet. I’m no politician, but facts are facts. A bottle bill would be beneficial to our citizens and to our home.