Monday, November 19, 2007

Markey Introduces Bottle Deposit Recycling Climate Protection Act

Nov 15: Representative. Edward Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, introduced the Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act (H.R. 4238), which would decrease global warming pollution and cut down on energy use by encouraging large-scale recycling of cans, bottles and other beverage containers throughout America. The introduction of the bill coincided with America Recycles Day. The bill has 11 cosponsors. A December 2006 GAO report cited a nationwide deposit law as an effective policy option to increase municipal recycling [See WIMS 1/29/07].

The bill would establish a national 5 cent deposit on beverage containers, including plastic water bottles and other containers that have become more prevalent in recent years after many state programs were established. According to Markey, the bottles and other containers pour into landfills and use energy to produce, thereby creating global warming pollution and other environmental issues. In 2006, more than half of the 200 billion beverage containers that could have been recycled in the United States were incinerated or littered.

Markey said, “Congress can send the nation a global warming message in a bottle. We can still quench our thirst while reducing our thirst for energy. And we can have carbon dioxide in our fizzy drinks, while cutting down on heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” Currently, 11 states have deposit programs that encourage consumers to return containers to claim the refund on the deposit. In the states that have passed bottle bills, recycling rates are twice that of states without deposit laws. The new National Bottle Bill recognizes the leadership of the states on this issue, and exempts states that have high recycling rates or existing state legislation from the national standard for 3 years, or as long as they maintain high recycling rates.

Plastic water and juice bottles have become increasingly prevalent since many state bottle bills were initially adopted. Including plastic bottles in a national bottle bill would lead to significant savings in energy and oil consumption. One ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity and 685 gallons of oil. Aluminum cans also account for an increasing amount of waste. 58 billion cans are thrown away every year in the United States, enough to fill the Empire State Building six times. If all these cans were recycled, it would cut the emissions of heat-trapping carbon pollution by nearly 6 million tons, or the equivalent of the pollution from more than one million cars. Cans made from recycled aluminum use 95 percent less energy than cans manufactured with new materials.

Markey said, “Recycling is an everyday action that we can all take to cut global warming emissions and be good environmental stewards. Our national goal should be to one day recycle every single bottle we use, and this bill will get us closer to that goal and that day.” The National Bottle Bill has already gained support from leading environmental and recycling organizations, including the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Public Interest Research Group.

The CRI's has issued a report and presentation on the problems with increasing numbers of plastic bottle from bottled water. The report, Water, Water Everywhere:The Growth of Non-Carbonated Beverages in the U.S., chronicles the dramatic increase in sales of bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages in recent years and looks at the projected growth of the non-carbonated market. A separate presentation addresses the rapid growth of bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages and how state legislatures are considering updating deposit laws to include these beverages that did not exist 25 years ago.

Access a release from Representative Markey (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 4238 (click here). Access the CRI website for links to their reports and information (click here). [*Solid, *P2]