retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times has a story about all the efforts that beverage manufacturers engage in to support recycling education, but the “one approach to recycling that many of these companies do not support has proved to actually work: container deposit laws, more commonly known as bottle bills, which cost them lots of money.”

The story suggests that “in the 10 states where consumers can collect a few cents when they return an empty bottle or can, recycling rates for those containers are often significantly higher. In some cases, they are more than twice as high as in states without such deposits.”

The Times writes that “for decades, beverage companies, retailers and many of the nonprofit groups they control have fought to kill bottle bill proposals across the country - with great success. Since 1987, only one state, Hawaii, has passed a bottle bill. This year, such measures have been proposed in at least eight states. Nearly all have been rejected or failed to gain traction.”

The end result is that “recycling in much of the country still depends almost entirely on the good will of consumers to place their used containers in a bin for pickup. The process is convenient, but means millions of bottles and cans head straight to a dump instead.”

The Times story notes that “facing public pressure over its contribution to plastic pollution in the ocean and the problems with many municipal recycling systems, the beverage industry has released broad statements in recent weeks suggesting a new openness to bottle bills.” But there is some skepticism in the pro-bottle bill community that this is anything other than public relations posturing.”
KC's View:
Hmmmm… “Public relations posturing.” Isn’t that redundant?

Anyway, while I ponder that…

There seems to be a feeling among some in the business that if citizens really believe in recycling, they ought to do it out of the goodness of their hearts rather than require some sort of financial incentive. Which is a fair point - we consumers can be a craven, mercenary bunch. But then again, maybe the folks in the business who say they believe in recycling ought to stop spending so much money to fight bottle bills and instead invest it in the infrastructure necessary to comply with container deposit laws.