I didn’t know that there were bills to create a deposit on beverage bottles and cans in the Lege, but I agree with the Chron editorial board that such a thing would be a good idea.
The bottle bill would require a five- or ten-cent deposit on the vast majority of aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers sold in the state (a nickel for little ones, a dime for big ones, nothing for milk containers). Consumers could get their money back by returning the containers to stores, redemption centers or reverse vending machines.
Would it be a pain in the neck? A little one, at first. But ask anyone who’s lived in a bottle-deposit state: It’s really not onerous to keep your empties in a sack until you’re ready to turn them in.
Alternately, there are lots of people who’d be delighted to take those valuable containers off your hands. Scout groups and churches could raise money with recycling drives – or by picking up litter. Or you could put your bottles and cans in your curbside recycling bin and let the city recycling program keep the deposits.
The bigger, cleaner stream of stuff to recycle would turbo-boost the recycling industry, creating jobs. Lots of jobs, right here in Texas: According to the Consumer Recycling Institute, Michigan’s bottle bill generated more than 4,600 new jobs there; New York’s, 3,800.
Some bottles and cans wouldn’t be turned in for redemption, of course. Texas would keep the deposits on those – a whopping $175 million a year, estimates the Alliance for a Clean Texas.
The bills in question are HB2114 by Rep. Garnet Coleman, and SB1119 by Sen. Rodney Ellis; they are among the bills of interest that are supported by ACT. I support any reasonable action to improve recycling rates, and I definitely support these. The fact that they would add much-needed revenue to the state’s coffers is a bonus. Unfortunately, neither bill has had a committee hearing yet, and this late in the calendar I can’t say I have much hope for them. If you would like to see these bills pass, then take the Chron’s advice and contact members of the respective committees to get them onto the agenda. There’s no time to waste.