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A national bottle deposit of ten cents per container

The bottle deposit law in New York is a great law. It's a voluntary tax. If you don't want to pay the tax, then recycle for everyone's benefit. If you don't want to recycle, someone will do it for you. Thousands of New Yorkers support themselves by collecting empty cans every night. It's not an easy job that doesn't pay well, but anyone can do it and many who do can't fit into the traditional job market. I can't think of any workers in America who deserve a raise more.

Why not make a national bottle deposit law of ten cents per container. Thousands of jobs would be created for those who need them most as well as making for a cleaner America. Higher prices might also encourage Americans to consume less sugary drinks, leading to a healthier America.

Like most laws there would be winners and losers. The winners would be the homeless and the working poor as well as the average American living in a cleaner America. The losers would be corporate America who might see beverage profits drop and retailers who would be responsible for collecting at least some of the roadside trash they generate. Who needs the money more?

  • Oct 21 2011: David,
    A discussion of the issues you wish to resolve with this policy suggestion might be the best place to start.
    I see a few that look like they are on your list.
    1. Poverty
    2. Waste/Trash Management

    You've explained on way each of these issues would be effected positively in your idea. By providing further incentive for the recycling of these bottles, the "Poor" would have a larger opportunity to collect and redeem the recyclables. Second, the further incentive for recycling the materials by assigning greater value to the materials.

    Next, I would suggest a discussion of unintended consequences. You have started this discussion by highlighting two "losers" in the policy. I would disagree with your position that this is a method of redistributing wealth from businesses to the poor. If this were true, then areas with a deposit would be examples of that effect.

    In areas of the country without deposits, recycling is high. And, it is highly impractical for the "poor" to go house to house looking for these recyclables. One other "loser" you might list are the organizations that conduct perpetual can recycling drives. This is quite common in the Twin-Cities area of Minneapolis. There are trailers parked around the metro where cans are collected and used to fund groups like Boy Scouts, local youth sport programs, and other non-profit organizations.

    I applaud your desire to help solve the two issues highlighted above, and I think you are on track for finding a creative solution, but I might suggest shaping it in such a way that there are not built in losers as you put it, but a positive incentive for people to voluntarily participate.

    Best Regards,
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    Oct 20 2011: In Denmark a few years ago, the supermarkets had recycling machines for glass bottles which recognised acceptable sizes and paid out. With technology around to identify different types of plastics and metals it should, given the will, be possible and economical to do something similar for a wider range of materials.