Redistributed as a Service of the National Library for the Environment*
Bottle Bills and Curbside Recycling: Are They Compatible?
James E. McCarthy
In recent years, both curbside collection and deposit/refund (or "bottle bill") programs have been used to collect materials for recycling. In 1991, both served about 30% of the U.S. population. Along with many other measures, both methods may have a role to play in a comprehensive recycling program. Neither method excludes the use of the other. Nevertheless, many wish to compare the merits of the two systems as alternatives. This report compares the merits of curbside and deposit programs in three respects: amount of material collected; quality of material collected; and financial aspects. The report concludes that:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
As Federal policy-makers and the Congress search for ways to stimulate the recycling of municipal solid waste, attention has focused on a wide variety of methods adopted by State and local governments. Such methods include:
All of these methods and others may have a role to play in a comprehensive recycling program: none of the methods excludes use of the others. In practice, many States rely on a mix of policy measures, including all or most of those listed above.
Of the measures listed above, however, only two -- curbside collection and deposit-refund -- focus on collecting materials from individual consumers or households. Thus, while debate rages over many of these policy measures, a specific subset of the issues involves comparing the merits of curbside and deposit-refund systems.(1)
Comparisons of the two systems are difficult to make. Key data (such as the cost of collecting materials and the amount of material collected) are often controlled by entities that have a vested interest in the debate's outcome. As a result, the choice of data is itself a matter requiring judgment, and is likely to be the subject of criticism.
In addition, the two methods are not designed to serve exactly the same purposes. Deposit-refund systems reduce litter generation and make possible the use of refillable beverage containers; curbside collection does neither. Curbside programs, on the other hand, can target a wider range of recyclable materials than deposit-refund mechanisms. Measured by weight, two-thirds to three-quarters of the materials recycled by curbside programs are likely to be paper.(2) For a variety of practical reasons, paper products have never been subject to deposits; with a few key exceptions, it is difficult to see how they could be subjected to such a system.
Thus, any comparison needs to focus on the comparable elements and confine its conclusions to those elements. This report focuses on how well the systems perform in collecting beverage containers. It compares the two systems in three respects: 1) the amount of material collected; 2) the quality of the material collected; and 3) financial aspects, including net costs of operation and methods of financing.
Section I describes the features of the various State deposit-refund laws. Section II describes the evolution and nature of curbside collection programs. And Section III compares the two methods against the three criteria. The third section also addresses the effects of the two mechanisms on each other: specifically, do deposit-refund systems, by "skimming" the most valuable materials, harm or prevent the operation of curbside collection?
I. DEPOSIT-REFUND LAWS
Since 1971, 10 States with a combined population of 74 million have enacted some form of beverage container refund law. Popularly referred to as "bottle bills" or "deposit laws," the laws require beverage retailers to pay consumers a specified refund value for returning empty containers, and require wholesale distributors of the beverages to pay refunds to retailers.
In general, the laws do not require the recycling or reuse of the empty containers. Once collected, however, the containers have value as scrap material. Thus, except in rare instances, the returned containers have been recycled or reused.
Both of the popular names for these laws ("bottle bills" and "deposit laws") are somewhat misleading: the laws generally affect glass, metal, and plastic containers for the specified beverages, not just bottles; and most of the laws do not actually require payment of a deposit, although retailers and distributors have collected deposits in any case. Nonetheless, "bottle bill" and "deposit law" are commonly used in the literature and, consequently, the terms are also used in this report.
In addition to the beverage container laws, three of the same States and seven others have deposit-like requirements for auto batteries. These laws require that consumers buying replacement auto batteries return a used battery or pay a deposit of $5.00-$10.00. The consumer can receive a refund of the deposit by returning a spent battery within a specified period of time -- generally 30 days. The battery laws require wholesalers to accept returned batteries from retailers, and require recycling. Since there is no comparison to be made between these laws and curbside collection programs, the battery laws are not further discussed in this report.
A. Common Features of Beverage Container Refund Laws
Table 1 presents a summary of key features of the 10 States' beverage container refund laws. Most of the laws:
Beverage Container Refund Laws in the United States
Under the systems established to comply with the laws, deposits are initiated by the wholesale distributor of the beverage, not by the bottler or brewer. On the return side, used bottles and cans are returned to distributors, not to the bottlers or brewers.(3) Thus, in the case of imported beverages or beverages shipped long distances, containers need not be returned to the country or State of origin, but only to the local distributor, who then generally sells the material for recycling.
B. Unique Features of Individual State Laws
While the laws are similar in most States, there are some unique features in several of the laws. The differences include:
1. Coverage of Additional Beverages. Initially, the refund laws applied only to carbonated soft drinks and beer. Beginning with Iowa's law in 1979, however, several States have expanded this coverage to include wine, liquor, wine coolers, and other beverages. The most comprehensive of these expansions has been in the State of Maine; as of January 1, 1991, all beverages except dairy products are covered by refund requirements. The list includes beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks, water, iced tea, fruit juice, and fruit drinks.
2. Escheat Provisions. In most bottle bill States, beverage distributors have three sources of income that help offset the costs of handling returned containers: 1) the scrap value of the containers; 2) interest on the money held as deposits; and 3) deposits that remain unclaimed when containers are not returned.
Some view the third source of income as an unearned windfall. This poses a particular problem in States which do not allow territorial monopolies for beverage distributors, since different distributors may sell and redeem the containers. In such cases, the seller reaps a windfall in the amount of the unclaimed deposit, while the redeemer loses money.
Whether there are territorial monopolies or not, allowing distributors to keep unclaimed deposits may also provide them a disincentive to accept returned containers: if fewer containers are returned, the distributor earns more money. (4)
Thus, whether distributors should be allowed to keep unclaimed deposits has become a political issue in several States. Three of them (Maine, Massachusetts, and Michigan) have responded by passing what are called "escheat laws." Escheat laws require beverage distributors to return all or a portion of unclaimed deposits to the State. Distributors are also required to provide data concerning sales and return rates under these laws. The data serve as the basis for calculating the amount of money to be returned, and provide the best data available concerning return rates.
3. California System. Nearly 15 years after Oregon initiated U.S. experience with the bottle bill, industry and environmentalists in California agreed on a new approach. Under the California system, which was implemented in 1987, refunds are lower than in other States, retailers and distributors of beverages are generally exempt from handling returns, and returns are channeled through recycling centers or curbside collection programs.
Coming after years of intense debate, the California approach was an effort to reach a compromise acceptable to all interests, including grocers, who opposed handling returned containers in their stores, and environmentalists, who insisted on the need for an economic incentive to stimulate recycling. It is a more complicated system than the traditional refund law, requires a large bureaucracy to administer, and it has not yet gained acceptance outside of California. But with some changes implemented in 1990, and with the continued growth of curbside collection programs for recyclables, the California system now appears to have overcome some of its early problems.
Under the California law, manufacturers of most beverage containers pay a fee of $0.02 per container to a State recycling fund. When the containers are returned, the fund pays 2.5 cents per container to the recycling center or program which handled the return. This fee may be passed on to the individual or group returning the container.
Containers holding more than 24 ounces are subject to fees of $0.04 and have refund values of $0.05.
Small retailers (defined as having revenues of less than $2,000,000 per year) are exempt from handling returned containers. Large retailers may be exempt if they can demonstrate that there is a recycling center located within a one-half mile radius of their store. This area is referred to as a "convenience zone." The State Department of Conservation has mapped over 2,000 such convenience zones in the State. Approximately 500 of these zones already had recycling facilities. In the others, retailers have generally contracted with recycling firms to establish redemption centers or install reverse vending machines in store parking lots.
In order to ensure that the container industry pays the full cost of recycling, the law requires the State to calculate a "processing fee" for each type of container annually. The processing fee is the difference between the average cost to recyclers of handling returned containers and their scrap value. The container manufacturer must either guarantee a scrap price equal to the cost of processing or pay the State fund a processing fee equal to the difference between the two. This provision has created artificially high prices for some recyclables in California, and provided incentives for out-of-State recyclers to import used beverage containers. Redemption of out-of-State containers is illegal, however.
The law also has provided subsidy payments to low-volume recyclers to help keep them in business. These payments are called "convenience incentive payments" (CIPs); their purpose is to insure the long-term operation of convenient recycling locations. The State recycling fund paid $13 million in CIPs in 1990, mostly to recycling centers located at supermarkets. The CIP in 1989 was as high as 5.6 cents per container at reverse vending machines. In 1990, however, because of increased volume handled at the centers, CIPs were reduced to 1.3 cents per container at staffed centers and 3.6 cents at reverse vending machines.(5) The CIPs will be replaced in 1993 by a handling fee of 1.7 cents per container. Only certain recycling centers will be eligible for the new fees, which will be capped at $2,300 per month per center.(6)
Much of the California system appears complicated, but in two respects it is more efficient than the traditional refund law used in other States. First, because it eliminates the requirement that containers be returned to distributors, it requires less sorting of returned containers. Second, for the same reason, the law facilitates redemption of containers by curbside recycling programs.
Not needing to separate containers by brand, the operators of curbside recycling programs could become major beneficiaries of the law. In 1992, however, only 6% of the redemption fees disbursed went to the operators of such programs.(7)
4. Other. While the refund laws in the nine States other than California are quite similar to each other, there are some differences:
C. Effect on the Use of Refillable Bottles
Since most studies have demonstrated that refillable bottles have the least environmental impact of the various container delivery systems,(8) reviving demand for refillable bottles was a major goal of bottle bill legislation.
The use of refillable bottles in the United States began declining in the 19408 (Table 2). By the early 1970s, when the first bottle bills were passed, refillable bottles accounted for only 39% of soft drink volume and 23% of beer.
Early proponents and impartial analyses of bottle bills thought that mandating refund values for non-refillable containers would revive demand for refillables. For example, the U.S. Resource Conservation Committee, an interagency group established in 1976 to report to the President and the Congress concerning economic instruments that could be used to reduce solid waste, assumed that implementation of a national deposit law would increase the market share of refillable bottles from 27% to a range of 40% to 60%.(9) The GAO, in 1977, assumed an even greater increase, from 27% to a range of 48% to 80%.(10)
Market Share of Refillable Bottles in the United States 1947-1990
Sources: U.S. General Accounting Office, Beer Institute, Beverage Market
While the reasoning behind these assumptions was not always explicitly stated, the assumptions seemed plausible on two grounds. First, refillable containers, if filled locally, provided beverages at significantly lower cost to consumers. If the container was to be returned in any case (eliminating the convenience of disposable containers), the lower cost of refillables should increase the quantity demanded.
Second, the experience of the first States to enact bottle bills suggested that demand for refillable containers would increase. As shown in Table 3, each of the first four States implementing deposit laws experienced a sudden increase in demand for refillable bottles. The increase was particularly noticeable in the soft drink market, where gains of 40% or more were recorded in three of the four States. Gains occurred in each of the States' beer markets, as well.
In the long run, however, the share of refillable containers in the beer and soft drink markets has declined in most States, including most deposit States, to the point where it is insignificant on the national level: only 7% of soft drinks and 5% of beer was delivered in refillable containers in 1990. Refillables do seem to hold a somewhat higher market share in bottle bill States than they do elsewhere. In the beer market, for example, all of the States with bottle bills except California(11) exceed the national average for use of refillables: the unweighted average of the nine States was 15% in 1990, three times the national rate.
Use of Refillable Bottles Before and Soon After Mandatory Refund Laws
in Four States
Source: U.S. General Accounting Office, "States' Experience with Beverage Container Deposit Laws Shows Positive Benefits," December 11, 1980, Table 12. "Before" and "after" were not defined by GAD, but they appear to represent data for the year immediately prior to implementation of the law and the year immediately after.
In the absence of a legal requirement to use refillables, however, the power of the nine States has not been sufficient to keep a national trend toward disposable containers from spilling into their markets.
Except in California, which was discussed in more detail in an earlier section of this report, implementation of refund laws appears to have occurred quickly and with few difficulties.(12) The laws have generally been implemented on a State-wide basis within one year to 18 months of enactment. In one case (Massachusetts) implementation occurred within 10 weeks after a State-wide referendum approved the law. Return rates for deposit containers have exceeded 80% in most programs from the very beginning.
While implementation has proceeded smoothly in most States, there have been some difficulties in New York. New York has the lowest return rate of the 10 deposit States, and has experienced a number of difficulties in obtaining compliance by retailers and distributors of beverages. A 1990 study by a State government commission found that lack of enforcement, combined with financial and other disincentives for retailers and distributors, were discouraging returns for refunds.(13) As a result, State-wide return rates had declined from 80.1% to 71.8% during the most recent five years. The problems with the program are particularly acute in New York City, where retailers have sought to avoid paying refunds to non-customers, particularly "the large number of people that augment or make a living collecting containers from the trash and streets.(14)
Of those affected by the laws' provisions, retailers appear to have had the most difficulties. Many cite a lack of space to store empty containers, additional sanitation problems related to storage, and increased costs. New systems have developed to ease such burdens, including reverse vending machines, specially designed (bag-in-box) containers that ease sorting and storage problems, and legally required handling fees to ease the burden of additional costs. Nevertheless, many retailers speak of an added burden.
State governments, on the other hand, have experienced few implementation burdens. Except in California, there is no State bureaucracy required to administer the laws' provisions. Even enforcement appears to have required few State resources.(15)
II. CURBSIDE COLLECTION PROGRAMS
While there have been several expansions of existing bottle bills to cover additional products, no new State has enacted a beverage container refund law in the United States since 1986. Since then, however, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of curbside collection programs for recyclable material. From a few hundred programs in 1986 (most of which collected only newspaper), curbside collection had grown by 1991 to include at least 3,912 programs serving more than 71,000,000 people. (16) Virtually all of the programs are multi-material programs, most of which collect bottles and cans in addition to newspaper.
A. Geographic Distribution
Although curbside collection is becoming common in most sections of the country, thirteen States accounted for more than 80% of both total programs and population served in 1991 (Table 4). These States were California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. In these States, 46% of the population was served by curbside collection in 1991. In the other 37 States, only 9% of the population was served.
Rural States, particularly those in the South, Midwest, and West, have few curbside programs. In general, these States have not experienced shortages of waste disposal capacity or pressure to recycle for other reasons; in many cases they are also located far from potential markets for recovered material, making the economics of recycling less attractive.
In the urban States of the Northeast and Pacific Coast, however, curbside programs are now so common that areas without them are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Landfill shortages, opposition to new incinerators and disposal sites, and heavy publicity from environmental groups and industry have combined to create a mandate for curbside recycling that continues to spread, particularly in urban and suburban areas.
B. Types of Programs
Curbside programs are as diverse as the jurisdictions they serve: they vary widely in size, types of materials handled, and methods of collection and sorting.
CURBSIDE RECYCLING PROGRAMS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1991
* 37 States and the District of Columbia
Source: Jim Glenn, "The State of Garbage in America," BioCycle Magazine, April 1992.
1. Size. Size is one obvious variable. In 1990, for example, Nebraska had one program serving 300 people, and Montana had four programs serving a total of 3,000. At the other end of the spectrum, New York City's curbside program serves 1,800,000 households, with about 4,000,000 people.
Size of collection programs is, of course, dictated by the size of the political jurisdiction that operates or mandates collection. Increasingly, however, small jurisdictions are banding together for recycling and other solid waste management purposes. This enables them to take advantage of economies of scale, gives them greater negotiating power, and helps attract private companies as processors and users of recovered material.
2. Materials Collected. Most curbside programs collect newspaper, bottles, and cans, but this configuration is far from universal. The simplest programs collect only one material, often newsprint. At the opposite extreme are comprehensive, multi-material programs such as those in Bellingham, Washington; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Anaheim and Brea, California; Wildwood, New Jersey; and New London, Connecticut. These programs collect mixed paper, scrap metal, mixed plastics, used oil, aluminum foil, batteries, milk cartons, juice boxes, and mixed plastics in addition to the usual newspaper, glass, and cans.(17)
Within programs, there are often different levels of service. Washington, D.C., for example, which is identified as having a multi-material program serving all of the city's 630,000 residents, provides service in a variety of ways. As of mid-1992, the city itself collected newspaper from residences with three or fewer units. The city also collected glass, steel, aluminum, and plastic containers from residents of three of the city's eight wards. The other five wards were served only by drop-off sites for their glass, plastic, and aluminum -- eleven sites that operated for four hours once a week. The city does not serve apartment buildings with four or more units, but it requires the owners of such buildings to collect newspaper, glass, metal, and plastic. The latter requirement has not been enforced, however. The result is a program that captured 54,000 tons of newspaper in 1991, but less than 6,000 tons of the other three materials combined.(18)
In general, curbside programs are expanding to cover more materials, in part because of voter or interest group pressure to expand, and in part because of support for such expansion from many sectors of industry. A case in point is plastic (PET) soft drink bottles. When curbside programs began, few of them collected plastic: its high volume-to-weight ratio, and its relatively low contribution to the municipal solid waste stream argued against inclusion.(19) But the makers of PET resins and containers, organized through the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery, have worked hard to promote its inclusion in curbside programs, providing technical and financial assistance and publicizing the idea that plastics are recyclable. As a result, the number of curbside programs including PET has quadrupled in two years, from 575 in 1990 to 2,073 in 1992.(20)
A similar history is exhibited by steel packaging. Except for steel beverage cans, which are not common, few steel cans were included in early curbside collection programs. Now, food cans, aerosol cans, and even paint cans are increasingly included in curbside programs, in part because the industry's Steel Can Recycling Institute has aggressively promoted their recyclability.
3. Methods of Collection and Sorting. Methods of collecting and sorting curbside recyclables have also changed as the number of such programs increases. While hard data concerning the types of collection program are not available, at least three types of collection method are now widely used, sometimes in combination with each other.
The first, and oldest, is best applied to bulky homogeneous material such as newspaper or cardboard. Residents are generally asked simply to separate these materials and bundle them in bags or with twine for separate collection. The separate collection program often uses existing equipment (either flatbed trucks, or compactor trucks of the type used for garbage collection); it may also use compartmentalized trucks that pick up other materials for recycling.
The second, and probably most common, type of collection is through the use of recycling bins. These plastic containers are often referred to as "blue boxes," because the first widespread use of them (in Ontario, Canada) used the color blue. In most blue box programs, each household is provided a free bin in which to set out all materials designated for recycling. The materials are usually collected in compartmentalized trucks, allowing some degree of sorting at the curbside. The amount of sorting varies from program to program. Sorting at curbside can produce cleaner material, but it is time-consuming, leaving the truck and its driver idle while materials are separated.
In an effort to eliminate curbside sorting and to minimize expenditures for new trucks and bins, a third method of collection, "blue bag" recycling, has recently begun to spread. In blue bag programs, residents are asked to commingle recyclable materials in blue plastic bags, which are collected in garbage trucks. Often the bags are collected with regular garbage, eliminating entirely the additional cost of collecting separate material. The blue bags are separated from the rest of the trucks' contents at a transfer station and are sent on for sorting and processing at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
Whether a blue bag or blue box program is used, the collected material usually must be sorted and processed before it can be sold. This can be done by hand, using conveyor belts and low-skill labor, or at increasingly mechanized MRFs. There are now at least 191 MRFs operating in the United States,(21) the most sophisticated of which use air classifiers to separate lightweight plastics from heavier materials, magnetic separation to pull out ferrous metals, and eddy currents to separate aluminum cans. Even the most sophisticated facilities still have plenty of hand sorting, however, largely for glass, which usually must be separated into three color streams by hand.
By many measures, curbside recycling is a success. The programs are popular with the public, and, as a result, have been embraced by private waste haulers and local elected officials. In contrast to other solid waste management programs, implementation and expansion encounter little public opposition. Participation rates are high. The programs often divert large quantities of material from disposal, particularly in areas that are largely residential.
In combination with other programs -- such as commercial sector recycling, major appliance ("white goods") programs, buy-back of metals and other valuable materials, yard waste comporting, and drop-off sites for non-residential recyclables -- curbside collection is an integral part of most comprehensive recycling efforts.
Good data are difficult to establish, particularly on a nation-wide or State-wide basis, but participation rates in excess of 80% are typical of many curbside recycling programs, and diversion of up to 25% of the residential waste stream is reported. As shown in Table 6, however, this does not mean that 25% of all municipal waste is captured by the curbside program. Rather, the upper limit in four programs for which data or estimates were available was 6.3%.
Recycling Rates from Curbside Programs
Sources: Seattle Solid Waste Utility, Cincinnati Public Works Department, Florida Dept. of Environmental Regulation, Rhode Island Solid Waste Management Corp.
This point bears repeating, since curbside programs are often reported to capture much more than 6% of the waste stream. For example, a study for the National Soft Drink Association found that two well organized curbside programs (in Islip, New York, and Anne Arundel County, Maryland) collected 21.5% and 17.7% of the available waste, respectively.(22) To derive these percentages, amounts recycled from nearly 19,000 households were divided by total waste generation in the same households. Apartment buildings, commercial waste, white goods, and other large volume materials usually included in the municipal waste stream were excluded from the denominator. Measured the same way, Seattle would have a similar curbside recycling rate: its program captures 17.1% of the waste generated by the households that are served by the city's waste collection services. When waste from other sources is included, however, curbside's contribution to the total recycling rate declines to 6.3%.
This is not to imply that curbside programs are unsuccessful. They are very successful at reaching their target audience: single family and other low-density housing. In most jurisdictions, however, such housing generates less than half the waste destined for disposal. Curbside recycling is not designed to include waste from other sources.
Curbside collection programs have experienced a number of growing pains, most of which they share with recycling programs generally. These include failure to meet legislated deadlines, shortages of funds for program expansion, and difficulty in marketing collected material. The latter problem has received much attention: in many areas of the country, markets for newspaper, glass, and some plastics have been difficult to find and prices have dropped, to a point where cities may pay recyclers to take material rather than being paid.
These difficulties are caused by several factors, many of which are expected to be temporary. For example, demand for old newspaper (ONP) is limited in the short run by the capacity of paper mills to deink and recycle the fibers. Other industries that use ONP (such as insulation manufacturers) also have limited capacity. Building new newsprint mills to recycle the additional material takes as long as five years from conception to finished plant. Modifying existing plants takes less time, but may still require one and one-half to two years. Thus, in the short term, increased collection has led to depressed prices for ONP. Consumption of old newspaper has grown, but not sufficiently to keep prices high enough to cover costs.
This problem is expected to be alleviated with time. The nation's newsprint manufacturers have announced plans for a near tripling of capacity to use old newspaper by 1994.(23) As a result, many feel that demand for ONP, which currently accounts for more than half the weight of material collected in many curbside programs, is likely to improve.
The recession has also affected recycling markets, by reducing demand for end products made from recycled material, and by limiting the willingness and the funds available for companies to invest in new capacity. This has affected markets for recovered materials, no matter how they are collected. Recessions mean excess capacity and falling prices for many industrial commodities. Polyethylene producers, for example, have significant excess capacity at the present time. This causes lower prices for virgin polyethylene, making the economics of using recycled material less attractive. The end result has been gluts of polyethylene milk jugs collected for recycling in some areas.
Despite these growing pains, curbside collection programs continue to expand at a rapid rate. Only in rare instances has collection of a material been abandoned because of difficulty in finding markets.
D. Non-Interference with Market Choices
A final aspect of curbside programs that bears mention in any description of their basic characteristics is their non-interference with market choices. Unlike deposit programs, curbside programs are not closed loop systems: manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are not required to take back collected materials.
Whether this is viewed as an asset or a liability depends on one's perspective. Because the manufacturer and the distribution chain are not responsible for recovery or recycling, curbside programs have no direct effect on product price or consumption, and do not restrict consumer choice. This is an important argument in favor of curbside recycling, according to many of the affected industries.
At the same time, manufacturers are free to introduce new packages without concern for their impact on waste management. Not having to recycle the material, some use packages that interfere with the quality of what is collected. In recent years, waste management officials have complained about such packages as glass beer bottles with ceramic tops (ceramics are incompatible with the recycling of glass containers) and soft drink and water bottles that use PVC plastic. PVC is incompatible with the more common PET in recycling processes, and is difficult to identify and separate.
III. COMPARISON OF THE TWO METHODS OF COLLECTING AND SORTING RECYCLABLES
Bottle bills and curbside collection programs are not mutually exclusive. In fact, curbside programs serve a larger share of the population in the 10 bottle bill States than elsewhere: in 1991, 43% of the population was served by curbside recycling in the ten, while only 22% of the population in the other 40 States had access to curbside recycling. Oregon, the first bottle bill State, was also the first State to mandate that waste haulers provide regular collection of recyclables. California, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts have also been leaders in developing curbside recycling while having refund laws in place.
Nevertheless, there is a great deal of interest in which of the two systems is more effective. This is a difficult question to address, since, as noted earlier, the two systems are not designed to serve the same purposes. Deposit-refund systems reduce litter generation and make possible the use of refillable bottles, whereas curbside collection does not. Curbside programs, on the other hand, can target a wider range of materials than deposit-refund mechanisms. It would be difficult, for example, to apply a deposit approach to newspapers, which make up the majority of material collected, by weight, in most curbside programs.
Thus, this section examines data comparing refund laws and curbside collection as methods of collecting and sorting beverage containers only. In particular, the section examines three variables: amount of material collected; quality of material collected; and financial data, including costs and methods of financing.
A. Amount of Material Collected
According to a 1990 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), return rates for containers vary from 72% to 98% in seven deposit States for which estimates were available.(24) The report apparently gathered but did not present return rates for individual States, however, and it excluded California.
Table 6 presents more detailed information from other sources that appears to generally confirm GAO's conclusions. The table shows that return rates in eight of the 10 bottle bill States range from 72% to 97%.
While data are limited, curbside collection programs generally appear to collect smaller percentages of the same materials. Several examples from among the country's most comprehensive recycling programs illustrate this point.
Container Return Rates in Refund States
* year reported
Sources: California Department of Conservation, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, National Container Recycling Coalition.
The State of New Jersey is generally considered to have one of the most comprehensive curbside collection programs in the country. In 1987, New Jersey mandated that all of its counties develop curbside programs for at least three materials by 1988. All of the counties implemented separate collection of newspaper, glass, and aluminum containers, and about half included plastic soft drink, milk, and water bottles in their program.
Public participation in New Jersey's separate collection program is mandatory. The State has had the most severe shortage of landfill capacity in the country: counties without disposal facilities exported nearly four million tons of solid waste to other States for disposal in 1990. The cost of such export is high: tipping fees (disposal fees) for municipal solid waste at New Jersey transfer stations are sometimes in excess of $100 per ton. And there have been numerous controversies over siting of new landfills and incinerators, with citizen groups often successfully opposing new facilities while suggesting more intensive recycling efforts. As a result, news coverage of solid waste and recycling issues in the State has been extensive. All of these factors would suggest that New Jersey should have as high a rate of recycling as one might obtain in curbside recycling programs.
Data for the New Jersey program are shown in Table 7: 68% of glass containers, 69% of aluminum cans, and 7% of plastic containers were being recycled in the State as of 1990. The glass and aluminum percentages are comparable to the low end of the range of return rates reported for deposit containers in bottle bill States. The plastic rate is substantially below that achieved by deposit programs.
There are some complications which suggest caution in making a straight comparison between the recovery percentages for redeemed containers and the recycling percentages achieved in New Jersey. First, the deposit programs generally apply to a smaller universe of containers than do the curbside programs. Curbside programs in New Jersey target all glass containers, all aluminum containers, and in cases where plastic is included both PET soft drink containers and HDPE milk jugs. Since the refund law percentages apply to a smaller universe, they would need to be adjusted downward to make a valid comparison. On the other hand, the curbside collection percentages would also need to be adjusted downward, since some of the amount recycled in New Jersey is collected by means other than curbside collection.
A second example is Rhode Island. The nation's smallest State, is often identified as having a model curbside collection program. As of 1990, the program was serving 244,100 households, about 70% of the State total. Expansion to cover all other households in the State is expected to occur in 1993. The State's Materials Recovery Facility was considered the most modern facility in the country when it was completed in 1989.
Recycling Rates in New Jersey, 1990
Source: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy
Rhode Island's program marketed 8,037 tons of glass, 963 tons of PET plastic, and 821 tons of aluminum in 1990.(25) The State estimates that the quantities of these items in the municipal waste stream totaled 22,540 tons, 2,300 tons, and 3,220 tons respectively.(26) The State's only landfill receives substantial quantities of mixed municipal/commercial waste, which also contains glass, plastic, and aluminum containers, but which was not included in the estimated waste totals.(27) Thus, from available data one cannot calculate the actual recycling rate. Using the municipal waste data only, one can conclude that the program recycled at most 37% of glass, 40% of PET, and 25% of aluminum cans.
A third program considered among the best in the United States is that of Seattle, Washington. Seattle recycled 40% of its municipal solid waste in 1991 through a wide variety of recycling programs. It is the largest city in the country to require volume-based pricing for solid waste collection services.
Under this system, households pay a fee that increases as they dispose of more or larger containers of waste. Curbside recycling service, on the other hand, is free. Thus, there is a strong incentive to recycle in Seattle.
The Seattle Solid Waste Utility estimates that curbside recycling programs captured 26% of aluminum cans, 49% of glass beverage containers, and an undocumented (but small) percentage of PET plastic containers in 1991.(28)
Example number four is the State of Florida. Florida has one of the most comprehensive waste management laws in the nation. The Florida Solid Waste Management Act, enacted in 1988, requires that each county recycle at least 30% of its municipal solid waste by the end of 1994, and requires that 60% of newspaper, aluminum cans, glass, and plastic bottles be separated from the waste stream and offered for recycling. Florida's requirements are notable in that, as originally enacted, they imposed penalties on users of newspaper and glass, metal and plastic containers if they failed to achieve the 60% recycling target by October 1992. The penalties (called "advance disposal fees" or ADFs) are one cent per container beginning in 1993, increasing to two cents per container if the goal has not been achieved by October 1996.(29) The ADF, if imposed, will be redeemable at designated redemption centers, with the State reimbursing the redemption centers for the money they pay out.
As shown in Table 8, 39% of aluminum cans, 13% of glass, and 7% of plastic bottles were recycled in the State in the most recently reported year.(30)
Finally, a study undertaken by the Aluminum Association in 1991 presented data for five curbside programs. While the data only covered aluminum recycling, they showed that three curbside programs in non-deposit States (Rhode Island, Maryland, and Minnesota) captured 24.9%, 44.9%, and 69.8% respectively of the aluminum cans in the waste stream.(31)
Thus, beverage container deposit programs appear to collect a higher percentage of their targeted materials. This conclusion is reinforced by national
Recycling Rates in Florida. 1990-1991
Source: Florida Department of Environmental Regulation
estimates, which show that deposit programs account for a disproportionately high percentage of U.S. recycling activity for the subject materials.
For example, a 1990 study of glass recycling done for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that glass from nine deposit States (excluding California) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the glass recycled nationwide, even though the States comprised only 18% of the nation's population.(32) Adding California to the total, the 10 States accounted for over 80% of all glass recycling in 1989. This percentage has probably decreased since then, because there has been a more than doubling of the number of curbside collection programs during the period. Nevertheless, rough calculations would indicate that at least two-thirds of the glass recycled still comes from the 10 bottle bill States.
Refunds also play a significant role in the recycling of plastic soft drink bottles, which are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). According to the largest user of such material, deposit States accounted for about 75% of the PET collected in 1991.(33)
Deposit/refund systems play a less significant role in aluminum can recycling. According to the Aluminum Association, the United States recycled 63% of its aluminum cans in 1991. There is substantial recycling activity in both deposit and non-deposit States. Nevertheless, all of the deposit States report return rates for aluminum cans higher than the national average.
B. Quality of Material Collected
Refund systems for beverage containers also seem to have an advantage over curbside collection programs in the quality of the material collected. The quality of materials emerging from the two systems of collection and sorting is not an issue widely discussed. As one official of a curbside system noted, "This is not something we like to discuss publicly, because we don't want people to think their material is not going to be recycled; but the amount of unrecyclable glass [rejected because it breaks before it can be sorted by color] is enormous."
In Rhode Island, for example, non-recycled residue totaled 6,630 tons in 1990. Ninety percent of this residue, according to State officials, is glass. By comparison, the program collected 8,037 tons of glass that was sold for recycling.(34) Thus, 42% of the glass that was collected could not be sold.
A second example comes from Florida. A company that collects recyclables from 260,000 homes in the suburbs of Miami reports that 47.5% of the 10,000 tons of glass it collected in 1990 and 1991 could not be recycled, because it broke into pieces that could not be sorted by color. The breakage occurs during collection and transportation, or when the material is dumped at the sorting facility.(35)
Aware of this problem, the Glass Packaging Institute has funded demonstration projects to develop technology that can reduce glass breakage. A Rhode Island demonstration found that relatively simple changes to collection equipment reduced glass breakage by approximately 20%, and inexpensive changes to sorting equipment reduced breakage 52%.(36)
Nevertheless, even after such modifications, a substantial amount of broken glass will remain in the collected material. Since curbside programs often collect commingled material, this glass breakage affects more than the quality of glass. Aluminum industry sources, for example, have complained that glass shards, plastic, and lead from commingled recyclables are contaminating shipments of aluminum cans from curbside collection programs.(37)
Plastics collected at curbside also have a substantial contamination problem, according to many industry officials. In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the largest user of recycled PET plastic stated that, because of quality considerations, more than 90% of the PET bottles his company purchased came from deposit States.(38) The nation's largest waste hauler, Waste Management Incorporated, withdrew from a plastics recycling joint venture last year because, in its opinion, the quality of the plastic collected in its curbside programs was not sufficient to justify further investments.(39)
Refund programs generally do not have the same quality problem, because the containers are sorted before the glass has a chance to break, when the consumer returns them for refund. If glass does later break (and often it is in fact crushed before shipment, to conserve space in transportation), it breaks among other glass containers of similar color.
C. Costs and Methods of Financing
Collection and sorting of containers for recycling through bottle bill systems appears to cost more than collection and sorting of containers collected at curbside. The costs of bottle bills, nevertheless, are assured of financing, since they are incorporated in product prices and paid by beverage consumers, producers, and sellers. Curbside collection and sorting, on the other hand, is generally financed from tax revenues; as a result, in some cases, continued funding is politically uncertain.(40)
1. Costs. The net costs of both curbside collection and deposit/refund programs are difficult to establish. Empirical data are not generally available to measure the cost of either type of program on a State-wide basis.
A particular problem in the case of a deposit system is that most of the cost data are proprietary and not subject to verification. Aware of this problem, the State of New York established a commission in 1989 that was asked to determine, among other things, the actual cost of compliance with its returnable container law. The Commission reported that, "Despite repeated promises to cooperate, both the soft drink and beer industries systematically failed to provide usable data," nor would they permit an accounting firm to evaluate the data that was supplied. (41)
Many estimates have been made for both types of program, but the results are often determined by assumptions concerning key variables. Total costs depend on such variables as the volume and variety of materials collected, crew size on collection trucks, distances from collection routes to sorting locations, revenues received for recovered materials, and avoided costs of landfill or other waste management. These factors vary greatly from one section of the country to another, and (in some cases) between different time periods in the same location.
Even where the total cost of a curbside collection program is known, a second set of questions arises. How does one apportion the collection and sorting cost among the materials collected -- in proportion to the weight of each material? In proportion to its volume? In proportion to the labor, energy, and capital costs required to sort the material? Does one adjust the data to account for contaminated or unusable material which is rejected by the system and landfilled? In general, these questions are not addressed in the literature; as a result, one must be wary of the reported data.
Revenues from the sale of scrap also vary, depending on market conditions and the quality of the material. Revenues in deposit programs can be greatly affected by the amount of unredeemed containers. Thus, in the discussion that follows, one should be aware that the data cited contain more than the usual degree of softness.
One little discussed variable is the degree to which deposit systems lead to the use of refillable containers. The use of refillable containers generally costs less than the use of disposable containers, particularly if return rates are high. As noted previously, most of the early studies of the effects of bottle bills found that the market share of refillable containers had increased in bottle bill States. As a result, the studies concluded that deposit/refund programs cost less than any policy alternative. The GAO, for example, estimated in 1977 that the net saving to businesses from a national bottle bill would be $0.8 to $1.2 billion annually.(42)
In more recent years, however, brewers and bottlers have phased out most refillable containers even in bottle bill States. If deposit/refund programs do not use refillable containers, costs increase. A study conducted in New York State in 1984 found that net costs increased by as much as 2.36 cents per container.(43) Other estimates (conducted with funding from the industries opposing bottle bills) have concluded that costs are as high as 7.5 cents per container.(44) Since the United States uses more than 100 billion beer and soft drink containers per year, these per container estimates would translate into a direct cost of $3.8 billion to $4.9 billion annually if a national refund law were enacted, according to the National Soft Drink Association.(45) These costs would be borne by beverage consumers or the industries making and selling beverages.
Curbside programs also cost money, but several studies have concluded that the cost of collection and sorting through bottle bills exceeds the cost of curbside collection and sorting. One study conducted for the nation's largest brewer concluded that bottle bills cost $121 per ton of material recycled in a rural State (Vermont) and $235 per ton in a more urban State (New York). Curbside programs were estimated to cost $101 per ton recycled in Vermont and $59 per ton in New York.(46) A second study, not conducted with industry funding, also concluded that "a bottle bill is a more expensive form of waste management than curbside recycling collection," although it added that there were other benefits from a bottle bill, such as litter reduction and reduced injuries due to broken glass, that were not addressed by such a comparison.(47)
2. Financing. Who pays these costs raises another set of questions. In a bottle bill system, once the legislation is passed, the additional costs are internalized in product costs, where they are paid by consumers, producers, or sellers of beverages. In a curbside program, the costs of recycling are paid by taxpayers, whether or not they consume the affected products.
Funding shortages have slowed or prevented the implementation of curbside recycling programs in many jurisdictions. The District of Columbia provides a case in point. The city government's 1989 recycling law required curbside pickup of newspapers, bottles, and cans by April 1990, but the city has yet to comply. In November 1992, in response to a suit by the Sierra Club and Common Cause, a judge ordered the city to provide curbside recycling to all residents served by the city's garbage collection service by January 1993. At a time of intense pressure on the city's finances, which has led to furloughs of teachers and other city employees and a projected billion dollar budget deficit in fiscal 1993 and 1994, the city is less than enthusiastic about expanding recycling services.(48) As a result, the City Council passed emergency legislation extending the deadlines to 1996.(49)
New York City, which runs the Nation's largest curbside program has had similar budget problems. The cost of its program in 1990 was estimated at $127 million. In the spring of 1991, Mayor Dinkins, faced with a $3.5 billion deficit in the city budget, proposed a one-year suspension of the city's recycling program. Funding was eventually restored, but the city at one point announced the lay-off of 85% of the Recycling Office staff and the closure of the largest processing facility to which the materials had been taken. The program's future funding continues to be uncertain, relying, as it does, on general revenues.
Without a secure source of funding, many cities can eventually be forced to choose between recycling and other programs. In the long run, this may pose limits on curbside collection.
3. Do Bottle Bills "Skim" Resources from Curbside Recycling? A final issue raised by the potential coexistence of bottle bills and curbside recycling is whether deposit programs skim the most valuable materials from curbside collection, adversely affecting the economics of such programs.
Aluminum cans are the most valuable material collected for recycling. According to Recycling Times, prices for used aluminum beverage cans ranged from $400-$840 per ton in December 1992. PET soft drink bottles, if not mixed with other materials, can also be valuable. PET prices are reported to be as high as $200 per ton.(50) Other items, such as newspaper and glass often have a price of zero.
Given the price of aluminum (and to a lesser extent that of PET), many have argued that bottle bills will take the most valuable materials away from curbside programs. A study for the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) concluded that beverage containers accounted for 73% of total revenues generated by curbside recycling in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.(51) In subsequent material distributed to Congressional offices, NSDA stated, "The most damaging effect of a national deposit system is on existing recycling programs, which depend on valuable beverage containers for more than 70% of scrap revenue. Deposit laws take away this revenue."(52)
There is no doubt that aluminum is the "cash cow" of curbside recycling programs. But, even with this cash cow, the programs generally do not earn a profit. For example, in Anne Arundel County, revenues from all materials cover only 20% of the program's operating costs. Because both revenues and costs would be lower if beverage containers were removed from the curbside system, the net cost of the program in Anne Arundel County would increase by only 5% if a deposit law were in effect.(53)
In dollars and cents, the amounts involved are very small: NSDA estimated Anne Arundel's increased cost at $24,430 if a bottle bill were enacted -- 11 cents per household per month. In Islip, New York, the other community studied for NSDA, the increase in net cost was even less.(54)
Two local governments that studied this issue reached similar conclusions. Revenues would be lower, but so would be costs, if a bottle bill removed beverage containers from existing curbside programs. Because more material would be recycled, there would be net benefits to the cities in both cases. The city of Seattle concluded:
The City of Cincinnati reached a similar conclusion. In its analysis, implementation of a bottle bill in addition to the city's existing curbside program would increase the amount of material recycled by 60%, while the city's cost would decrease from $94 to $72 per ton recycled. (56)
This report has examined three aspects of curbside and deposit-refund systems as means of collecting beverage containers: the amount of material collected; the quality of the material collected; and cost factors, including whether deposit systems skim resources from curbside recycling. There are many other issues that could be addressed in comparing the two systems, (57) but the key issues raised by affected parties in recent years are those addressed in this report.
In general, the report concludes that:
These results suggest that deposit systems and curbside recycling are compatible. While each can be used to target various segments of the waste stream, both approaches in combination are likely to increase the amount and quality of the material collected.
1. Other systems, such as drop-off points for recyclable materials, could be included in this comparison. In Europe, drop-off collection is the principal method of collecting non-refillable glass bottles and jars; in some countries, glass recycling rates as high as 70% are obtained by placing thousands of drop-off containers in public places. In this country, however, drop-off programs have been limited in scope and have generally not recovered more than a few percent of target materials. As a result, they are not included in this report.
2. To give two examples from well-developed multi-material curbside programs, the City of Seattle reported in September 1991 that 76% of the material collected in its curbside program, by weight, is newspaper and mixed waste paper. The State of Rhode Island reported for the year 1990 that 67% of the material processed and sold by its curbside programs was newspaper.
3. In the soft drink industry, the bottler is often also the wholesale distributor, so that this distinction is not important; in the beer industry, however, the distributor is generally distinct from the brewer.
4. Distributors are legally obligated to accept returns, but clearly have some discretion in deciding how quickly or how often they pick them up, how quickly they reimburse retailers, etc., all of which, in turn, may affect a retailer's degree of cooperation with customers returning containers. This problem has been particularly severe in States such as New York, which do not allow exclusive territories for beverage distributors. In such cases, returns are not necessarily handled by the distributor who first sold the beverages. Thus, imbalances can occur, with some distributors keeping large amounts of unclaimed deposits, while others pay out more than they initially collected.
5. California Department of Conservation, "Convenience Zone Effectiveness Study," a Report to the California Legislature, June 1991, Summary Report, p. 15.
6. Container and Packaging Recycling Update," December 1992, p. 5.
7. Personal communication, California Department of Conservation, December 1992. Data reported are actual data for the period January 1, 1992 -September 30, 1992, plus estimated payments for the period October 1 -December 31, 1992.
8. The U.S. Resource Conservation Committee, for example, estimated in 1979 that a 20% increase in market share for refillables would reduce energy demand by 60 trillion BTU, reduce industrial solid waste generation by 180 million cubic feet, reduce air and water pollution, conserve bauxite and iron ore, and save consumers $1.1 billion. See U.S. Resource Conservation Committee, "Choices for Conservation," Final Report to the President and Congress, Washington, July 1979, p. 89.
9. U.S. Resource Conservation Committee, "Choices for Conservation," p. 88.
10. U.S. General Accounting Office, "States' Experience with Beverage Container Deposit Laws Shows Positive Benefits," Washington, December 11, 1980, p. 36.
1l. California was excluded from this comparison because its system does not return containers to retailers and distributors. Thus, there is less incentive in the system to use refillable bottles: in California, only 4% of beer is sold in refillables.
12. California had low container return rates in the early years of its program and also required a large administrative effort by the State Department of Conservation to implement the program. After four years of operation, and more than a doubling of refund values, the program reached return rates comparable to those in other refund States.
13. New York State, Report of the Moreland Act Commission on the Returnable Container Act, New York, NY, March 15, 1990, pp. 2-6.
14. KPMG Peat Marwick, "Report on the Management Study to Improve the Efficiency of the New York State Returnable Container Act," New York, NY, March 13,1990, p. 19.
15. There is little publicly reported data on administrative costs. Conversations with various State agencies indicated that the systems function on their own, with little State oversight, because, once a deposit system is established, most parties see it in their interest to make the system work in order to keep their customers satisfied. A 1980 study that examined the experience of the first bottle bill States found that Oregon and Vermont State agencies added no additional staff, and Maine added one additional inspector to implement their laws. See "A California Bottle Bill: the Economic, Resource, and Environmental Implications of Deposit Legislation," California Public Interest Research Group, University of California, Berkeley, January 1980.
16. Jim Glenn, "The State of Garbage in America," BioCycle magazine, April 1992, p. 50. No one actually knows how many programs there were in the mid-1980s, because no one counted them, but when Bio-Cycle began its annual survey in 1988, it found 1,042 programs.
17. Tom Watson, "They Want It All," Resource Recycling, October 1991, pp. 22-31. The list indicates the range of items covered; not all of the cities listed collect all of the items.
18. Personal communication, D.C. Office of Recycling, November 27, 1992.
19. According to U.S. EPA, plastic soft drink bottles comprised only 0.2% of municipal solid waste, by weight, in 1990. Glass packaging, by comparison, was 6.1% of the waste stream, thirty times as much. see U.S. EPA, "Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1992 Update," p. 2-36. By volume, the contrast is not so great: glass packaging weighs twelve times as much as plastic of the same volume according to the American Plastics Council, so the PET would occupy a significant amount of space on collection trucks even though its weight is small. Most solid waste data and most contracts for waste management specify weight rather than volume, however. Thus, the low weight of plastic makes it appear uneconomical to collect for recycling.
20. "PET Projects," quarterly newsletter of the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery, Fall/Winter 1992, p. 1.
21. Jim Glenn, "The State of Garbage in America," BioCycle Magazine, April 1992, p. 54.
22. Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. for the National Soft Drink Association, "Impact of Container Deposits on Curbside Recycling: Two Case Studies," July 1991, p. E-4.
23. Personal communication, American Newspaper Publishers Association, April 1992. In 1991, 15 mills had the capacity to produce 3.4 million tons of recycled newsprint annually. By 1994, 35 mills will have the capacity to produce 9.1 million tons, if all announced capacity expansions take place.
24. U.S. General Accounting Office, Trade-Offs Involved in Beverage Container Deposit Legislation," Report No. GAO/RCED-91-25, November 1990, p. 34. The States for which data were available were Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.
25. Rhode Island Solid Waste Management Corporation (RISWMC), MRF Performance 1990, memorandum, February 11, 1991.
26. RISWMC, "Rhode Island Solid Waste Composition Study," Final Report, October 17,1990, p. 4-3.
27. The State has no data on the quantity of mixed waste, but it is large enough to be the only set of wastes besides municipal waste included as a separate category in the State's waste composition sampling program. The sampling program showed that glass bottles, aluminum cans, and PET plastic are present in mixed waste in approximately the same percentages as in municipal waste.
28. Personal communications, Seattle Solid Waste Utility, December 4 and 8, 1992. Recycling rates for aluminum cans and glass beverage bottles are higher (63% and 56% respectively) if you include other methods of recovery, such as drop-off sites and buy-back programs. The plastic recovery rate was 5.3%, but this includes all plastics, not just PET bottles.
29. These deadlines have since been modified, but industry and local governments remain under strong pressure to meet the targeted recycling rates.
30. FY 1990-1991 Recycling Data, Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, March 27, 1992.
31. Aluminum Association, "Aluminum Recycling: Vital to You; Vital to Us," Washington, 1991.
33. Personal communication, Wellman Inc., December 1992.
34. Rhode Island Solid Waste Management Corporation, "MRF Performance, 1990," op. cit.
35. "Bottles Set for Recycling End up in Garbage Dump," Associated Press, September 12, 1991.
36. Janet Keller, "The Nitty-Gritty of Glass Recycling: Reducing Glass Breakage in Collection and Processing," Resource Recycling, February 1992, pp. 46-55.
37. "The Changing Aluminum Can Recycling Market," Resource Recycling, October 1990, pp. 29, 80.
38. See statement of Dennis M. Sabourin, Vice President, Wellman Inc., Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Amendments, Part 3, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Environmental Protection, Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 5, 1992, p. 23 and pp. 48-51.
39. See "Waste Management Bails Out of Venture with DuPont co. on Recycling Plastics," Wall Street Journal, November 7, 1991, p. B4.
40. Bottle bills could, of course, be repealed. In that sense, their continued funding is not certain. But repeal would require legislative action, which does not appear likely: none of the 10 States has repealed a bottle bill since the first of the laws was passed 22 years ago. The laws do not sunset, and as long as they are in force, they do not require appropriation of government funds to operate. Curbside programs, on the other hand, require annual appropriations from a government budget in most cases.
41. New York State, Report of the Moreland Act Commission on the Returnable Container Act, March 15, 1990, p. 8.
42. U.S. General Accounting Office, "Potential Effects of a National Mandatory Deposit on Containers," Report No. PAD-78-19, December 7, 1977, Table 12.
43. State University of New York, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, op. cit.
44. George K. Criner, Steven L. Jacobs, Stephanie R. Peavey, "An Economic and Waste Management Analysis of Maine's Bottle Deposit Legislation," (Orono, Maine: Maine Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Maine, April 1991), pp. 29-32.
45. Temple, Barker & Sloane, Inc. for the National Soft Drink Association, "Economic Impact of a National Beverage Container Deposit Law," June 1991, p. vi.
46. Franklin Associates, Ltd., for Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., "The Role of Beverage Containers in Recycling and Solid Waste Management," Prairie Village, Kansas, April 1989, p. xxxiv.
47. Frank Ackerman, Todd Schatzki, "Bottle Bills and Curbside Recycling Collection," Resource Recycling, June 1991, pp. 75-78.
48. "Judge Says He'll Set Deadlines for City to Obey Recycling Law," Washington Post, November 7, 1992, pp. B1, B7.
49. "Judge Backs Delay of Recycling," Washington Post, January 7, 1993, p. D.C. 3.
50. Recycling Times, January 12, 1993, p. 5. Prices reported were for the period December 3-29, 1992.
51. Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc., for National Soft Drink Association, "Impact of Container Deposits on Curbside Recycling: Two Case Studies," July 1991, p. IV-1.
52. National Soft Drink Association, "National Bottle Bill Would Hurt Consumers, Recycling Programs," undated (distributed 1992).
53. GBB for NSDA, Case Studies, p. IV-2.
54. Ibid., pp. IV-1 and IV-2.
55. Letter from Diana Gale, Seattle Solid Waste Utility, to R. Gifford Stack, Vice President, National Soft Drink Association, September 6, 1991.
56. Memorandum from George Rowe, Director of Public Works, to the Intergovernmental Affairs and Environment Committee, City Council, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 29, 1991, pp. 12-17. Note that the reduction in cost refers to the city government's costs only. If costs to private parties were included, as they were in studies done for the affected industries, costs per ton might increase.
57. Other issues might include the effects of the two systems on recycling infrastructures, employment, energy and raw material use, container substitution (e.g., whether plastic or aluminum substitute for glass), prices of the affected products, structure of the affected industries, public opinion, and other variables. Many of these issues were studied in the late 1970s, when a national bottle bill first came before the Congress. These studies are still instructive, but the affected industries, the structure of distribution systems, the amounts and kinds of material used for packaging, and other factors have changed in numerous ways since that time.
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