Bottle Bills and New Jersey, Not Perfect Together

I have been teaching continuing education courses for some time at Rutgers University in New Jersey. One of the courses that I teach is for Certified Recycling Professionals. Recently, I received an inquiry regarding why the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR), New Jersey’s professional recycling organization, is opposed to a bottle bill.

The question was a good one.

Why does ANJR not support a bottle redemption program? According to the Product Policy Institute (PPI), deposits get more than double the recovery rates of mixed curbside collection and yield a cleaner material. Obviously, I understand that PPI is only one (1) of numerous environmental organizations, but their argument is persuasive.

ANJR’s President, Dominick D’Altilio responded as follows:

“Simplest response to this question:  New Jersey has mandatory recycling and the Recycling Enhancement Act, which provides funding to communities and counties for recycling activities, would “sunset” if a bottle bill was instituted in New Jersey.”

Good answer. However, there is more to it than that. It is true that bottle bills help increase redemption of BOTTLES in certain cases. However, the truth of the matter is that bottle bills are not about the environment; they are about the unclaimed deposits. New York State, Massachusetts, Connecticut just to name three states, all keep the unclaimed deposits. These deposits amount to tens of millions of dollars.

Also, bottle bills, even if they do help get some more bottles in the recycling stream, are an archaic form of recycling. We don’t refill bottles any more. Thus, states with bottle bills have created a duplicate collection system that uses more fuel, creates more pollution and results in a negligible increase in recycling.

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