Thursday, January 11, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 11, 2001

Of all places, Hawai'i deserves a bottle bill

In a column on Christmas Day, Jan TenBruggencate, The Advertiser’s longtime environment writer, described with a touch of whimsy how the Canadian province of Nova Scotia had successfully dealt with what was turning into a big trash problem.

Taking drastic steps, they put into place mandatory measures — reduction, recycling, reuse, composting. No doubt independent-minded businesses and individuals bridled at the requirements — until they saw the results: a 50 percent trash reduction. It meant they didn’t have to open new landfills, which no one wanted in his or her back yard.

Among the least expected benefits was the discovery that there are 10 times more jobs in recycling than there are in disposal.

One of Nova Scotia’s requirements is a bottle bill. "You pay 6 cents a bottle when you buy a bottle of soft drink or water," writes TenBruggencate, "and get 3 cents back when you return a bottle — the remaining cash goes to vendors and recycling programs. They now claim an 80 percent return rate."

Reacting to TenBruggencate’s column, letter writer Randy Ching, from the Sierra Club on Oahu, wrote of a similar bottle bill nearer home — Oregon, where customers pay a nickel for any beverage container, plastic or glass. It works there, too.

Again this year, Hawaii’s Legislature will consider a bottle bill. Are Nova Scotia and Oregon more environmentally aware and cleaner than Hawaii? We can’t think of a place on the Earth that has more reason for a bottle bill.

Let’s pass it this year.

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