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Recycling 101 - 6.9.14


By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, Jun 6th, 2014
Posted in All Home & Garden

I started writing this article in January when information concerning the bottle bill often made the news and was discussed at length. Since then, several groups throughout the state have voiced their opinions, for one reason or another, against such a bill. An article written by Elizabeth Dunbar of Minnesota Public Radio News, published on February 12 in the Rochester Post Bulletin stated that the some lawmakers say there just isn’t time to consider such a big change this year. Ten states have deposit laws, and recycling rates for bottles and cans in those states are twice as high as in Minnesota. The Brooklyn Park representative has stated that when you look at the value of material we’re throwing away, it’s very significant.

For at least another year, it looks like your 12-pack of pop is still going to cost you $3, not $4.20. If you read the rest of this article, you may find a couple things that may give you a better understanding of how this may affect each of you personally, one way or another, or it may cause even more confusion. This is a collection of some of the information that has crossed my desk in recent months concerning this topic.

This past January, Twin Cities Television WCCO, Channel 4 reporter, Heather Brown, interviewed Wayne Gjerde of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This paragraph and the next contain information from this report concerning the possibility of a $0.10 deposit on bottles and cans containing water, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages. You would be reimbursed the $0.10 when you bring the bottles and cans to any of numerous redemption centers throughout the state. The dime deposit could save 107,000 tons of recyclables (1.9 billion containers) from going to the landfill each year. It could also increase the recycling rate of bottle and cans from the present 45 percent to 84 percent.

Minnesota is in the top three recycling states along with Oregon and California. Urban Minnesota’s recycling rate is 47 percent and Greater Minnesota has a 44 percent recycling rate. The national average for recycling is 35 percent Each year, Minnesota produces 5.7 million tons of waste. Thirty percent of this ends up in a landfill, twenty-one percent is incinerated, and forty-six percent is recycled. Paper accounts for a little less than one-half of all material that is recycled in Minnesota. One-third of the material now sent to landfills could be recycled.

In one of my articles from December of 2013, I mentioned a lot of this material is undoubtedly the aluminum cans discarded each day by Minnesotans that, laid end to end, would reach from Minneapolis to Grand Marais and the plastic bottles that would reach from Winona to Bemidji. I find it very difficult to imagine the size of the pile of bottles and cans that would accumulate in one year. Perhaps a half or whole Metrodome, if it still existed, or perhaps even more. Let’s just say that it would be quite a pile.

So, how would this deposit thing work? I am sure many of you remember when there was a deposit on returnable bottles a few years ago. You paid so much a bottle, six pack, or case when you purchased your beverage. When the glass bottles were empty, you would take them back to a store and get your money back, or you would simply buy the same number of filled bottles, and an even trade would be made. Children would frequently save bottles they would find and when they had enough for a candy bar or two, they would take them to the store and trade the bottles for the candy.

This would work kind of the same way, but different. The containers today are certainly recyclable, but not refillable as they were 30 or 40 years ago. You would pay the deposit at the time of purchase and when you returned the bottles or cans to a redemption center, you would get your money back. Many states that have bottle bills at the present time, have machines where you place your bottle or can on a tray, the machine reads the bar code, and if the container has the correct code, the machine returns the deposit you or someone else paid. Few, if any machines pay in cash, most print vouchers that can be used as cash in most stores. Many states have a nickel deposit, others have a dime, and a few have gone with a $0.15 deposit. Yes, there is opposition to the “bottle bill”...and No, you haven’t heard the end of it.

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