An expanded bottle bill will mean higher costs for municipalities and loss of jobs at Connecticut recycling facilities.
Legislation is being considered in Hartford to expand the list of beverage containers subject to the state’s container deposit law. This legislation is unnecessary as these containers are currently managed effectively and efficiently in Connecticut’s robust and well-established municipal and business recycling programs. The state’s own waste study concluded that a very large percentage of these non-deposit plastic and metal containers are currently being recycled in our systems; and that only a very small percentage of them end-up being thrown out in the trash.
Municipal and commercial recycling is one of Connecticut’s best ever environmental programs – recovering nearly one million tons of discarded materials annually. Recycling protects the environment; slows climate change; and gets people involved every day — thus raising overall environmental awareness. All three of these things are slam dunk winners for the state and all who live and work here. There are thousands of people whose employment is financed by these containers and who make their living at the recycling facilities and their sister waste hauling companies that we run all over the state.
Expanding the bottle bill to these plastic and metal containers will mean loss of jobs for many of these employees.
The value of recyclable commodities has helped underwrite the cost of our industry’s delivery of municipal and business recycling services over the years. So, since the proposed beverage container deposit law expansion will take away many of the valuable containers found today in the recycling bins and barrels we collect around the state, it is only appropriate that we speak up now to stop this expansion. We are doing this to help keep important items in the recycling bin that have positive commodity value — which are vitally needed today — to keep recycling services available and affordable for all in Connecticut. And, to protect the jobs of our workers.
Connecticut has excellent recycling laws and regulations; excellent recycling collection and processing systems; and well-established access to domestic and international markets for re-use of recyclables, including these beverage plastic and metal beverage containers. Our curbside and business programs have proven to provide recycling services without interruption for decades; taking these containers out of your recycling bins and barrels makes little sense and has too many negative impacts. Connecticut should not expand the bottle bill for these containers.
To help recycling, the Connecticut container deposit law should be amended to include glass bottles — wine and liquor bottles specifically. These glass containers, and others, break when they are managed in the recycling system – that is when you put glass in your recycling bins and buckets; and when we collect recyclables with our trucks; and, when processed at the recycling plants we run with our elaborate equipment.
When glass containers break, all the different colors – clear -brown-green — become mixed. When mixed like this, getting glass actually recycled is very difficult and expensive. Also broken glass in the recycling our system is a nuisance at the least for homeowners and a downright nightmare for recycling center operators due to workplace safety issues and wear and tear on equipment due to the abrasive nature of fine glass pieces. So to help recycling in Connecticut, wine and liquor glass containers should be the target of the expansion; not plastic and metal containers not already on the state’s container redemption list.
Connecticut should expand its container deposit law to include wine and liquor bottles and leave the other plastic and metal beverage containers alone. They are currently put in recycling bins and barrels and they are being managed effectively and efficiently.
Mike Paine of East Granby is Chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Waste and Recycling Association.
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