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Bottle bill back again

Despite evidence to the contrary and opposition by some environmentalists, bottle bill proponents remain determined to push a national forced deposit law through Congress.

Rep. Ed Markey's (D-MA) bill requires a 10¢/container deposit, a 2¢/container handling fee and the payment of unredeemed deposits by wholesalers to the state government. A similar bill is expected in the Senate, possibly by Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-OR), who has a remarkable 20-year record of bottle bill introductions. Are forced deposits a good solid waste management tool? Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants studied Maine's expanded bottle bill, which includes containers for distilled spirits, wine and all other beverages except dairy, cider and products in paperboard. Northbridge's Kevin Dietly told the GMA/FMI Environmental Affairs Conference that collection costs for Maine's expanded bottle bill are at least double those for traditional deposit programs, and the diversity of the containers makes handling more difficult and costly. The requirements add significantly to product costs, accounting for about 30% of the cost at the wholesale level. Worst of all, the expanded bill has had little impact on the waste stream, Dietly reports.

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