The Price of Redemption

06Aug11

Debt ceiling, we hardly knew ye.
Bottle
Now that the debt discussion that has held the national airwaves hostage for the past few months is over and the phony threat of default is in the rear view mirror, can we please get back to real issues – like littering?

Expanding the Massachusetts bottle law is the latest bad idea to emerge from Beacon Hill. In fact, attempting to expand the bottle law has become practically an annual exercise for the solons.
One of the perennial arguments in favor of expanding the existing bottle law by tacking a deposit on plastic water bottles is the notion that it would cut down on littering and the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills.

The new bill is opposed by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, who point out that adding a whole new class of containers to the bottle bill would further burden retailers already struggling with sluggish sales in a down economy.

Diet CokeEven in this economy, I still know people who can’t be bothered returning their soda cans and bottles for the five cent deposit. They just throw their deposit containers in with the trash. I return my deposit containers, but it’s not out of any deep concern for the environment. I know that a nickel ain’t what it used to be, but I’m still too cheap not to take back my deposit.

The way I look at it, for every 75 containers I return, I can almost buy a gallon of gas. And 75 is about the minimum number that end up cluttering my hallway before I can’t stand it anymore and finally return them.

While not part of the current proposal, some actually favor doubling the deposit on everything to 10 cents. I guess the idea is that people who think nothing of throwing out two containers worth a nickel each will return one for a dime. I’m not sure I buy that logic, but then I have never understood throwing away a nickel.

But it doesn’t matter, because the new proposal won’t affect people like me who as a rule don’t drink water from plastic bottles and always return their deposit soda cans and bottles.

When the bottle bill first came into law, there used to be redemption centers where cranky employees would count your filthy trash and hand you cash. Now we have machines that don’t complain but do like to reject two or three random containers from each lot just to be disagreeable.
Running water
If the new bill does pass and a deposit is added to water bottles, consumers have an obvious alternative – the faucet.

As Wakefield Public Works Director Rick Stinson recently pointed out, a gallon of Wakefield tap water costs less than 2 cents compared to a 16-ounce bottle of water bought in a store at $1.25-$1.50 multiplied by eight to equal one gallon, for a cost of $10-$12 per gallon.

Maybe an expanded bottle bill would increase recycling and help get plastic bottles off the streets. But this is not the time to add an additional burden on businesses when there are already more than enough recycling options available.

[This column originally appeared in the August 4, 2011 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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2 Responses to “The Price of Redemption”

  1. Superb blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you recommend starting with a free platform
    like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any tips? Appreciate it!

    • 2 Mark Sardella

      I’ve been happy with WordPress. It offeres more features than I will ever use. Seems like a good place to start. You can always move later.


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