All states need to get behind bottle bills
Regarding the May 2, Page 10 story ``Recycled PET shortage serious, growing,'' it seems to me, that if the information in the story is accurate, there is a simple solution to this serious and growing problem. Let's look at the facts from the story:
* ``Demand for recycled PET ... is outpacing supply.''
* ``We've had a demand imbalance for quite some time. There have been meetings and committees and studies. ... Not a whole lot, though, has happened.''
* ``There's plenty of bottles to go around, but they're just not being collected.''
* ``Many people agree that container-deposit laws, or bottle bills, are effective in recovering PET bottles.''
* ``The 10 states that have had deposit laws running for some time ... collect about three of every four bottles consumed.''
* ``Recovery rates can reach higher than 80 percent in [states with deposit laws].''
* ``You're looking at single-digit recycling rates in nonbottle-bill states.'' (At best: 9 percent recovery rates in states without deposit laws.)
* ``NAPCOR's 2003 data shows the 14 U.S. PET processing plants had a total capacity of 877 million pounds and ran at 71 percent capacity.'' (So there is no shortage of recycling capacity.)
The solution is clear and simple: Ten states have already passed bottle bills, and there is no issue of recovery in these 10 states. All that needs to happen is for the other 40 states pass the same laws.
The pros of this action would be to recover almost 71 percent more PET bottles (80 percent recovery average in bottle-bill states minus the 9 percent already being collected in nonbottle-bill states equals a net gain of 71 percent more recovery). Certainly 71 percent more bottles recovered in 40 states of the United States would help make a significant impact on recycled PET supply.
Consider that oversupply of recycled PET would stabilize PET pricing for recycled flake and virgin resin.
U.S.-based manufacturers of various products that use PET could be more competitive with their PET-based products if the cost of the raw material was less volatile and cheaper.
To the opponents of bottle bills, I challenge them with this: Have they stopped doing business and/or profited significantly less in the 10 states that have bottle bills? Probably not.
It is time for corporate responsibility to the planet. Companies need to do something that works to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into our landfills.
It's time to do something good for the United States to help promote more domestic manufacturing by reducing our raw material costs so that U.S.-made goods can compete with the rest of the world.
Most of all, it's time to stop all the ``meetings and committees and studies'' and start acting by getting state and/or federal laws passed regarding bottle bills.
When bottles equal money, people will recycle them instead of throwing them away. And if they do throw them away, there will be someone to find them and pick them out of the trash. High recovery rates are guaranteed! Simple enough?
Carlos R. Petzold
Bodam International Ltd.