Senator Introduces National Bottle Bill

Washington, DC - Environmental leaders joined U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) on Capitol Hill to support new legislation holding the beverage industry responsible for increasing bottle and can recycling.

"More than 114 billion beverage containers were thrown away rather than recycled in 1999, a 50 percent increase in bottle and can waste since 1992. Marketing strategies and packaging choices made by beverage companies are key factors in the growing waste problem," Pat Franklin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, said. CRI is a national, nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia.

"Senator Jeffords is taking a new approach by setting a national performance standard for beverage container recycling-achieving an 80 percent national recycling rate, and by holding beverage companies directly responsible for meeting that standard," Franklin said.

Under the bill, the nation's soft drink, beer and other beverage companies would be required to develop plans using a 10-cent refundable deposit on beverage containers to achieve the national standard. Plans would be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

Environmental leaders from the Container Recycling Institute, Earth-justice Legal Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, GrassRoots Recycling Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council joined Senator Jeffords at the news conference.

"The beverage industry knows what works to recover containers because they invented the deposit system for refillableglass bottles, and they operate the system in the 10 U.S. states where they are required to do it. Those 10 states with deposits recycle more bottles and cans than all the other 40 states together," said Bill Sheehan, executive director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network, which is based in Athens, Georgia.

"What's new about the Jeffords approach is that it will result in a system designed by beverage producers, not imposed on them. It allows industry to do what industry does best, design a cost-effective system that gets the job done.

Government does what government does bestó setting standards in the public interest, monitoring progress and ensuring compliance," Mr. Sheehan said.

The 10 states with deposit laws are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Michigan, Oregon, and Vermont.

CRI Senior Policy Analyst Lance King explained two key factors contributing to the waste problem. "Marketing beverages for away from home consumption and the shift to plastic bottles have fueled the beverage container waste problem," Mr. King said.

"Achieving an 80 percent recycling rate would produce major benefits in energy conservation, saving the equivalent of 640 million barrels of oil over a ten year period or enough electricity to meet the needs of 5 million households a year," Mr. King said.

"Requiring a 10-cent refundable deposit would lead to a doubling of the national beverage container recycling rate within the next several years. Michigan has a 10-cent deposit and the highest recycling rate in the nation - 95 percent or higher since its deposit law was passed," Franklin said.

CRI and GRRN cited a new study by businesses and environmentalists showing that deposit systems result in the highest level of recyclingó with 422 bottles and cans recycled per capita, compared to only 127 beverage containers recycled per capita through curbside recycling in non-deposit states.

"Vermont's bottle deposit law has been in place now for 30 years. As is the case in other 'Bottle Bill' states, the program is among the most successful and popular of Vermont's environmental laws," said Joan Mulhern, legislative counsel for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, the nation's largest nonprofit environmental law firm. "It's time for Congress to apply the successful deposit system across the nation."