Mainland bottlers linked to lobbying
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
The Sierra Club yesterday criticized an anti-bottle bill group named Hawaii Citizens for Comprehensive Recycling, saying it is deceptive because the group was backed by a Mainland-based soft drink organization.
Hawaii Citizens for Comprehensive Recycling spent nearly $36,000 during March and April to fight the so-called bottle bill, which passed the Legislature and is awaiting the governor's signature.
According to a lobbyist report filed with the state Ethics Commission, Hawaii Citizens for Comprehensive Recycling received all of its money from the Washington, D.C.-based National Soft Drink Association. All but $1,080 of its $35,971 budget was spent on media advertising.
It was among the second-highest amount spent on lobbying during the last two months of the legislative session. The AARP spent the most at $40,219 and the Hawai'i State Teachers Association spent $33,873.
"It turns out there were no citizens in the Hawaii Citizens for Comprehensive Recycling, only Mainland beverage industries," said Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter. "Why does the beverage industry hide behind a deceptive name to push their anti-recycling agenda?"
David Thorp, named in the Ethics Commission filing as the group's state and local affairs manager, could not be reached at his office in Washington, D.C. Pepsi general manager of the Pepsi Bottling Group-Hawai'i Gary Yoshioka, who represented the group at legislative hearings, was also unavailable for comment.
The bottle bill would impose a nickel deposit on most bottles, cans and plastic beverage containers beginning in 2005. Those deposits would be refunded to consumers when the beverage containers are returned for recycling. The bill also phases in an additional charge of up to 1 1/2 cents per beverage container that the state Health Department would use to subsidize the recycling industry.
Reach Lynda Arakawa at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 525-8070.