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Bottle bill heard in statehouse

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Published on: Thursday, February 28, 2013

By Lauren Loricchio

ANNAPOLIS - A statewide container recycling incentive program that would add a five cent charge to the price of plastic, glass, and aluminum beverage containers, is scheduled to be heard in the Maryland general assembly on March 8.  

The program, better known as a "bottle bill" has received both support and opposition.  

It was introduced to the house last month by Del. Maggie McIntosh, chair of the environmental matters committee.

The program would add a five cent fee to the upfront purchase price of bottled beverage containers.  Consumers can bring empty containers to a redemption center to get the five cent fee back, providing a financial incentive to recycle.

According to the Recycle for Real website, a bottle bill would reduce the amount of container litter by 69 to 84 percent.

"Plastic bottles are a huge portion of the trash floating in the Anacostia river," Julie Lawson, spokesperson for the Anacostia Watershed Society said.

While many neighborhoods in Montgomery County have curbside recycling, many other areas in Maryland don't.  

"I think curbside works better in some places than others.  In Montgomery Village where I live…you can see a lot of cans and bottles strewn around.  I think this program would take care of that," Del. Shane Robinson, co-sponsor of the bill, said.  

Ellen Valentino, executive vice president of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association, called bottle bills, "archaic programs."

"We know for a fact that people want to recycle at the curb.  People do not want to pay more at the grocery store," Valentino said.  

But when asked if a bottle deposit fee would change the amount of bottled beverages she buys, Bethesda resident Jamie Kumpf, said, "No, it wouldn't stop me from buying plastic bottles."

And North Potomac resident Regina Vasko said, "I'll probably buy the same amount and be more likely to return them to get the refund."

Valentino said another drawback to the program is that it will promote people walking through the streets digging through recycling containers in Montgomery County.

“There are a lot of people that are poor that are there for reasons that are out of their control.  I would say that having people to pick up cans and trash is a service to our community,” Del. Robinson said.

Bottle bills currently exist in ten other states.

“The bottle bill for recycling beverage containers we have works three times better than other surrounding states that don’t have them,” Bill Blum of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said.  

Michigan also has a bottle deposit program, the Michigan Beverage Container Act, that was enacted in 1976.  Michigan has a ten cent deposit fee and the redemption rate is almost 96 percent.

“The program remains very popular with residents of the state.  There seems to be more talk about expanding the program,” Howard Heideman, administrator of the tax policy division at Michigan department of treasury said.  

“The bigger concern might be that residents of Washington, D.C. or Virginia would bring containers they bought outside of Maryland to redeem.  We know some of that goes on here,”

Reader Comments - 1 Total

captcha 3382b70de8804aedb22eacb4cd9e10a2

Posted By: dl in lw On: 3/8/2013

Title: great story! excellent research and well-written!

We need more stories like this! Thanks to Lauren Loricchio for a fantastic report.


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