Eleven states have “bottle bills,” legislation requiring vendors to collect a deposit on each container they sell of soda pop, iced tea, energy drinks, etc. It basically mimics the old, voluntary system of recycling, where bottling companies would pay people to return glass bottles, for reuse.
When I was a kid, cheaper materials (aluminum, plastic) made the old system uneconomical. So environmentalists pushed through legislation in Oregon, and then elsewhere, to create government-mandated recycling systems.
Oregon’s legislature just passed a “sweeping revision” of the bill, upping the deposit amount from five cents to ten and expanding the program. John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute testified at a legislative hearing against the revision. According to Charles, bottle deposit recycling conflicts with curbside recycling, which Charles argues is far more efficient — or at least easier to use than lugging containers back to return centers, which are usually sticky, smelly, and. . . .
Well, Charles didn’t talk about the stink. One of my Washington State informers did.
You see, Washington not only lacks a bottle bill, such efforts fail with larger percentages each time one hits the state’s ballot. But the beverage containers sold in Washington have the same deposit/return guarantees as in Oregon. So some Washingtonians transport their in-state purchases — sans five-cent deposit — across the border for unearned returns.
You might think that fighting such cheating would be of more concern to Oregon lawmakers than making it even more lucrative to out-of-state profiteers.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.