Your article “No magic bullet: Solving the Garbage Problem” in
the May June of Save the Pine Bush newsletter, is very perceptive.
In particular, your sentence, “Customers did not demand the
throwaway bottle; it was done to allow the bottling companies to
consolidate and grow bigger” is absolutely on target as is
your list of 3 reasons for throwaway bottles, and I applaud your
proposal “How about outlawing nonreturnable bottles?”
Let me offer some supplemental information and suggestions
relevant. to you to proposal.
1. The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island already
requires that soda be sold in refillable bottles. Perhaps beer
2. Refillable bottles made of plastic (rather than glass)
have been widely used in Europe. They are substantialiv thicker
than the throwaway plastic bottles used in the U.S., but still
weigh next to, nothing, much less than glass, and undoubtedly
hold carbonation much longer than throwaway plastic. Although
making bottles may not be the wisest use of increasingly scarce
and costly petroleum, plastic refillables would be a big improvement
over what we now have.
3. Many studies in the 1970’s showed that refillable bottles
are beneficial not only in reducing garbage, but also in conserving
energy and resources, and also in reducing cost to the consumer.
Price surveys, including some by my church, showed that soda
was invariably cheaper in refillable bottles, based on comparison
of prices for the same size, same brand, sarme stores. Studies
concluded that if all soda and beer were distributed in refillable
bottles, our nation would reduce its energy consumption by more
than 1/4 of 1%. That statistic was generated when refillables
were still fairly common, so I expect that the saving would be
closer to 1/2 of 1% today.
4. Refillable-bottle systems are economically feasible only
if the redernption rate exceeds 90 percent. Therefore, even
though Labatt and Molson beer are the only beverages widely
distributed in refillables in this region today, container-deposit
laws in N.Y. and other states are vital in preserving the
viability of refillable systems because they keep people in
the habit of returning ermpties to the stores that sell beverages.
The last I heard7 the ret.urn rate in N.Y~ averayed about 75%,
but that was an average of nearly 90% upstate and 50% NY
5. Unfortunately, inflation over the past 30 years has rendered
the 5-cent bottle deposit progressively less of an incentive
to motivate consumers to redeem empties. If our ultimate
aim is the reintroduction of refillable bottles, we need
to push now for increasing the deposit to, 10-15 cents on
all beverage containers. Enclosed is a memo espousing this
theme. I am somewhat uneasy about proposed legislation that
would divert unclaimed deposits to the State for environmental
projects. Revenue for such prodects is needed, but I fear
that enactment of this provision might cause government to
tolerate or even welcome consumers not redeeming empties,
thereby increasing revenue but transforming the deposit into
an optional tax (and losing the incentive to return empties
and encourage refillables).