Thanks for your very factual and unbiased coverage of the sad battle in Kentucky over the proposed container deposit requirement. It would seem logical that those who spent so much money on defeating this legislation might have made more prudent use of their shareholders' resources by investing in an acceptable alternative solution. It seems we all agree that the 10 states that presently require container deposits have collection rates that far exceed those of their 40 sister states.
Not surprisingly, the price for reclaimed, clear, super-clean, post-consumer beverage bottles is lower than the price of virgin material. It follows that beverage companies that decide to use recycled content should be able to save money on the cost of their bottles. In fact, taking a look at today's prices, the spread between recycled and virgin bottle grade materials is better than 20 percent, and this would suggest that a large beverage company could save many millions of dollars by using as much recycled material as possible.
One has to assume that the real reason the beverage companies are spending hard-earned money on persuading legislators to betray their majority constituencies is most likely due to loyalty to their customers. And in capitalism, we know that loyalty to customers thankfully becomes a two-way street. We can hardly criticize the beverage companies for following the basic rules of the very system of customer-driven economy to which we give credit for America's greatness.
But perhaps, in this instance, the problem arises because the beverage customers are not beverage consumers. It is the retailer who is the customer, and it is also the retailer that must set up a separate accounting system for deposits collected and bottles redeemed, and must store the redeemed bottles, and bale them for collection. It is logical that this customer would ask for and expect the beverage suppliers' support in trying to avoid this burden.
The reason why polls in Kentucky show an overwhelming support for the deposit legislation is that they feel fairly certain that putting a value on spent containers will result in cleaner parks, highways, and waterways. And many are either nostalgic for the return of a redemption system that provided them pocket money as a child, or are currently youngsters who have grasped this concept and would like to start trading in bottles for candy bars themselves.
Maybe the next time legislation of this type is introduced, we could ask the major beverage companies to spend some of their money on designing a program or system that could benefit both their retailer-customers and the public. Such an investment could perhaps be made in purchasing reverse vending machines or parking-lot kiosks that could ease the burden on the retailer by automating bottle redemption. Or maybe the beverage guys could stage a lottery where a special number could be imprinted on the bottle and bottle cap, and to play the lottery, the consumer would simply put his spent bottle in a sealed collection receptacle and keep the cap in his pocket. Every so often, some bottles could be drawn from those collected, and prizes distributed to the winning cap holders. Even the retailer could learn to enjoy such a system if the bottles selected could be identified by source, and the collecting retailers could receive bonus prizes.
In essence, since we know that putting a relatively small value on spent containers will get them fetched back to a redemption point, and we know that they have value as industrial feedstocks for a number of industries, it will never make sense for the continued use of our tax money to collect and bury them. We need to use our American intellect, ingenuity, and entrepreneurism to help the beverage companies and their true customers out of this systemic dilemma. Otherwise, the battle will continue and expand, and this is a battle that has very frankly done tragic and significant damage to at least one of our country's greatest trademark icons.
EvCo Research Inc.