I don't always share the German point of view on recycling but I must say that Roger King's article on its packaging ordinance [March 20, Page 1] was less than fair. Politically, the German government's initiative forced everybody in Europe - not just in Germany - to think about how to set up recycling rates. Most players in Germany recognize that other countries have come up with better laws and programs, and there is growing cross-border debate on how we can learn from each other. Secondly, Germany is putting a lot of effort into pyrolysis and other forms of feedstock. Before the end of the century, they reckon to be able to reprocess all the material they can get hold of.
If they can do this at reasonable cost, the ordinance will have helped Germany win a technological lead in a commercially viable process. If they can't, they will just have a new but costly alternative to landfill or energy-from-waste.
Most Europeans think the German government has given too much priority to packaging waste management and that the money could have been better spent elsewhere, but we should not dismiss their experience out of hand. I am keen to see how the Germans modify their ideas as they develop policy for packaging and other waste streams.
Recycling Laws International
St. Albans, England
The March 27 perspective by Marty Forman, (``Rocked from repose by recycling remarks''), calls for a response.
I was a founder and am a board member of the original Container Recovery Inc. (CRINC) in Des Moines, Iowa. CRINC was founded in response to Iowa's deposit legislation in 1978 and continues to this day to be a successful collector and processor of plastic, aluminum, glass and paper.
Forman's suggestions that unredeemed deposits would fund vast program costs are not borne out by our experience.
At a 5 cent-per-container deposit, up to 95 percent of all 12-ounce containers and up to 90 percent of various PET containers are returned.
Over the years, with deposits initiated by wholesalers and bottlers, the small unrefunded portion has made it possible for them to compete favorably with neighboring states which do not have mandatory deposits.
Many public statements have been made by persons unfamiliar with deposit redemption. They assume phantom sums available from unrefunded deposits. They have not taken into consideration the American shopper.
Charles G. Irvine
Des Moines, Iowa