National Public Radio had a pretty good report this morning on plastic bottle recycling. The story doesn't cover much new ground, but it's worth a listen because it's balanced, and because it's an indication that there's pressure building to put deposits on more plastic bottles -- not just PET soda containers. What do I mean by balanced? Well, the report quotes a small grocer who is opposed to bottle deposits, which I think is pretty rare in a typical recycling story.
"It's somewhat dirty, it's inconvenient and it actually costs us money," says Ken Capano, who owns two ShopRite stores in Connecticut. Capano says the deposit law in his state places too much of the burden of recycling on grocers, who have to provide space and machines to take the bottles back. It costs each of his stores about $20,000 a year, he says.Also consider this somewhat radical idea proposed by a water company executive:
Kim Jeffrey, president and CEO of Nestle Waters North America, says he's not against container deposits, but he says beverages should not be the only containers targeted. "Everybody that sells a plastic container that's recyclable should have some deposit on it if we're going to do this thing the right way," Jeffrey says. And he means everybody. "If it's P&G with a detergent container; if it's ConAgra with a peanut butter container; or if it's me with a bottled water container; or if it's a dairy with a one-gallon milk container — this should be a level playing field on this," Jeffrey says.Bottle deposit legislation was introduced in several states this year, but it didn't seem to catch fire. That's too bad -- I think deposits are the most effective way to boost the plastics industry's lackluster recycling rate. And remember, there's real demand for recycled PET containers. But politicians seem more interested in plastic bag bans right now, and deposits are stuck on the public policy back burner.