Bottle Bills

In 1981 Suffolk County on Long Island outlawed nonre-turnable soda bottles. By 1983 legislation had been passed in eight states requiring a 5-cent deposit on all soda bottles. The annual return rate on beer bottles in New York is nearly 90% and 80% of six billion soft drink and beer bottles. Further improvement was obtained by raising the deposit on nonrefillable containers to 10 cents and allowing the state to use part of the unredeemed deposits (at present kept by bottlers and totaling $64 million a year) to establish recycling stations.

Bottle bills, while having achieved partial success, should be integrated into overall recycling programs, which include office paper and newspaper recycling, cardboard collection from commercial establishments, curbside recycling, establishment of buy-back recycling centers, wood waste and metal recycling, glass and bottle collection from bars and restaurants, and composting programs. Advertising and public education are important elements in the overall recycling strategy. Street signs, door hangers, utility-bill inserts, and phone book, bus, and newspaper advertisements are all useful. The most effective longrange form of public education is to teach school-children the habits of recycling.

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