It is with some interest that I have been following your coverage of beverage-container recycling, particularly Sen. Jefford's national bottle bill and Coke and Pepsi's sudden conversion to a 10 percent post-consumer-content policy.
While Coke and Pepsi are to be congratulated for confirming their use of recycled content as an alternative to bottle deposits, the fact remains that the two are not exclusive tools but rather work quite well together. A deposit system ensures an adequate, clean supply of recycled resin to meet the new demand.
There are other unresolved questions around the new recycled-content initiative. Will other soft drink manufacturers follow the lead, thereby creating a level playing field? Will there be adequate supply of recycled PET to satisfy both the soft drink industry and the carpet industry? Will industry provide adequate compensation to municipalities to offset collection costs?
The answers to these questions are available in the systems operating in British Columbia and other Canadian provinces.
Encorp Pacific Inc., the not-for-profit agency operating British Columbia's beverage-container deposit refund system, reports diversion rates exceeding 80 percent while simultaneously accumulating an operating surplus of more than C$5 million in 2000 (see www.encorpinc.com). The system enjoys enormous support from the public and local government. All sectors of society benefit from the increased economic activity associated with recovering used beverage containers, and the environment benefits from decreases in litter and wasted landfill resources.
It's not an alternative to bottle- deposit legislation, but it bears looking into.
Regional District of Kootenay Boundary
Trail, British Columbia