Deposits On Bottles And Cans Could Recycle More Tons Than Discontinued Curbside Program And Save Tax Dollars

News Release

Container Recycling Institute
1911 Ft. Myer Drive, Suite 900
Arlington, Virginia 22209
703/276-9800 fax 276-9587

For Release

March 25, 1997

Contact: Pat Franklin

Deposits On Bottles And Cans Could Recycle More Tons Than Discontinued Curbside Program And Save Tax Dollars

Group points to additional benefit of cleaner city streets and parks

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) today, released figures showing that a bottle bill similar to one adopted in Maine six years ago, could recycle more tons than were being recycled by the city's curbside recycling program discontinued last month. The calculations were requested by a coalition of grassroots organizations frustrated with DC's on-again, off-again curbside recycling program.

Jim Dougherty, spokesperson for the group said, "If we can't have curbside recycling, we'll push for a bottle bill." Dougherty was one of the warriors working in the trenches ten years ago when the bottle bill Initiative was defeated. Dougherty says he remembers Initiative 28 well. "We had strong public support until a few months before the election, but a last minute media blitz with racial overtones and a $2.2 million price tag killed the ballot initiative."

Dougherty says the industry opponents of the bottle bill promoted curbside recycling as an alternative to the bottle bill in 1986. "Now that curbside recycling has been rejected outright by the city, it is no longer a viable alternative to a deposit system."

CRI's calculations show that a "Maine-style" deposit system for all beer, soda, wine, liquor, juice drinks, teas and bottled water would remove an estimated 29,500 tons of containers from the waste stream every year. "Based on recycling estimates from Eagle Recycling, that's about 3,500 tons more than were recycled annually through the city's curbside program," said Pat Franklin, Executive Director of the Institute, a nonprofit, research and education organization studying container and packaging recycling and reuse issues.

According to Franklin, the Institute calculated the tonnage that would be removed from DC's waste stream under a deposit/return system for beer and soft drink containers only. They also estimated the tons recovered under an expanded deposit system, like Maine's, that covers wine, liquor, water and new age beverage containers in addition to beer and soda containers. Those two sets of recovery figures were then compared with recovery figures for DC's discontinued curbside program. Finally, the cost to the city for the two types of recovery systems were compared.

The deposit-refund system, like curbside recycling, creates a collection infrastructure, said Franklin. "But, unlike the deposit system which is paid for by producers and consumers, curbside recycling programs are funded by taxpayer dollars." The cost of DC's curbside program was estimated at $3.7 million a year or $37 per household.

Franklin claims that the two systems are not mutually exclusive and that deposit systems have proven to enhance curbside recycling programs by removing glass that can contaminate other recyclables.

Alicia Culver, a local grassroots activist said, "A bottle bill would provide a recycling infrastructure for citizens who want to recycle and would help keep 30,000 tons of aluminum, glass and plastic out of the landfill. An added bonus would be a dramatic reduction in beverage container litter on the city's streets, sidewalks and parks. It's a win- win situation for the city."

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