In his Oct. 4 letter, ``Government, taxes won't help recycling,'' Mr. George Makrauer - who, by the way, is not a plastics recycler - appears to be either uninformed or misinformed or both.
If he read Plastics News on a regular basis, he'd know that there is a PET supply crisis. If he understood how container-deposit laws worked, he'd know that they play a critical role in the recovery of containers from the waste stream. Deposit laws create a collection infrastructure that achieves high recovery rates and, unlike curbside recycling programs, they produce a guaranteed source of high-quality materials.
These laws were modeled after the voluntary deposit-return systems bottlers used for decades to recover their glass bottles for refilling. They work because they provide consumers with a financial incentive to recycle.
The collection link in the recycling chain is weak, and if it's not strengthened soon we'll see the smaller plastic reclaimers close their doors. The link could be strengthened with more state deposit laws, or a national law requiring a deposit (not a ``tax,'' as Mr. Makrauer calls it, but a refundable deposit) on all beverage containers sold. I challenge him or anyone else to name one tax that is 100 percent refundable.
Mr. Makrauer describes deposits as ``warm-fuzzy environmentally rationalized increased costs that don't generate an environmental benefit.'' Would he argue that the reduction of over 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2002 resulting from PET recycling was not beneficial? Deposit laws in 10 states have resulted in enormous national and global environmental benefits. What's more, they have been good for business. Ask the hundreds of businesses that recycled 800 million pounds of PET bottles in 2002 if they are engaging in recycling for environmental reasons or for economic reasons.
Mr. Makrauer is right about one thing: The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers' customers (Coke and Pepsi) might not like bottle bills. The corporate giants have clamped down hard on the little guys who are either buying their PET bottles from Coke and Pepsi or selling new bottles to the beverage companies. The soda companies fight bottle bills at every turn, but do nothing to reverse the downward recycling trend for containers. They have engaged in countless, fruitless dialogues that have gone nowhere, and implemented short-lived, symbolic recycling programs that make for warm, fuzzy corporate public relations, but have done nothing to substantially increase beverage container recycling.
Mr. Makrauer wants APR folks to think about ``better serving their customers.'' What about Coke and Pepsi's customers? Their customers want to see soda and water bottles recycled, yet four out of five PET bottles sold are still ending up in the trash. Their customers also support bottle bills. This year, public opinion polls in New York, Michigan and Iowa showed that more than 85 percent of consumers polled in those states support their bottle bills. May I suggest that the soft drink companies think about better serving their customers.
Container Recycling Institute