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Shifting Recycling Responsibility in New Hampshire

The state could be poised to be the 11th nationwide to implement producer and distributor responsibility law.

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New Hampshire’s new House Bill 1636 proposes a significant change in the state’s recycling landscape, according to the Concord Monitor, transferring the responsibility of managing recycling programs from government agencies to the creators of beverage containers: the producers and distributors.

Unlike previous attempts, however, this bill calls for a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) to oversee the program, with beverage producers and distributors as contributing members, financially supporting the redemption program through fees instead of burdening government agencies.

State Rep. Sherry Dutzy Rose, a bill sponsor, expressed the need for this change, citing inefficiencies in the current system. The conventional model of having the government set up and manage the system is ineffective in New Hampshire, particularly during budget constraints, Dutzy claimed. She further emphasized the benefit to taxpayers, as the financial burden would shift away from public funds to the producers themselves.

The proposed system aims to simplify the recycling process for consumers. By utilizing reverse vending machines, with the option for transfer stations to also serve as redemption centers, individuals can easily return their beverage containers—glass, aluminum, or plastic—and receive coupons in return.

"We want to set up a system where you can just incorporate it in your daily or weekly routine, very similar to what you do with recycling now," Dutzy explained. The redemption rates, incentivizing the return of containers, are structured to reflect the size of the container, with the costs absorbed into the price of the beverages.

New Hampshire is currently the only state in New England without a bottle bill and would join 10 states nationwide that have implemented such bills.

The bill has its detractors, as representatives from the beverage industry have voiced their concerns. Bree Dietly, Principal of Breezeway Consultants and a representative of the American Beverage Association and the New Hampshire Beverage Association, criticized the bill for its stringent requirements. "This is an extremely prescriptive bill putting the producers in charge of the system and then prescribing the size of the signs in the windows of the stores where they take back the bottles," Dietly argued. She highlighted the lack of flexibility for producers and retailers to adapt the system to their needs.

 

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