Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 8, 2002

Recycling links us with N.Y.

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Columnist

Recycling is moving in opposite directions at opposing ends of the nation.

In Hawai'i this year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed the first beverage container deposit bill, or "bottle bill," to be passed in a state since 1986.

In 2005, you'll pay a little more for a soft drink or bottle of water, but you'll get 5 cents back when you turn in the container, whether it's glass, plastic or metal.

Moving in the other direction is New York City. The city is abandoning collection of glass and plastics for recycling by refuse collection crews.

The city has found that collecting certain recyclables with the trash is too expensive, in a year in which New York faces budget deficits in the millions of dollars.

The city is continuing to pick up paper and metal for recycling, and said it will review its policy on plastics and glass during the next couple of years.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the change should save the city $40 million a year.

"Our commitment to recycling is just as strong as ever. We're just trying to be practical," Bloomberg said.

All in all, though, the situation in New York won't be all that different from that in Hawai'i.

New York continues to have a bottle bill, and offers a nickel deposit on beverage containers. That won't change.

The City and County of Honolulu has experimented with curbside recycling and concluded that it's too expensive. The city did it without spending the millions New York has on its effort.

The beverage industry, which opposes the bottle bill, early this year issued its own proposal for recycling, which included curbside recycling.

It suggested households be assessed a fee for trash collection, and that the fee be reduced for families that recycle. It also called for more drop-off recycling sites, especially in rural areas.

The industry argued that this would result in increased recycling of all kinds of materials, not just beverage containers.

Supporters of the bottle bill argued that curbside recycling had been tried and found unworkable. They also argued that most beverages in single-serve containers are consumed away from the home, and that a bottle bill would more effectively keep them out of the waste stream than curbside recycling.

The Hawai'i bottle bill could jump-start efforts to enact similar legislation across the nation, said Pat Franklin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, a Virginia-based nonprofit group that advocates recycling.

"The victory in Hawai'i will breathe new life into the campaign to conserve resources and make beverage producers responsible for their packaging waste," Franklin said. "We expect to see at least 20 states introduce some type of container deposit legislation in 2003."

Jan TenBruggencate is The Advertiser's Kaua'i bureau chief and its science and environment writer. Reach him at (808) 245-3074 or jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.