Thursday, April 09, 2009

Do We Need a Bottle Bill?

A visit to the main post office on Watchung Avenue reminded me of the current discussion on whether a deposit is needed on plastic water bottles. This array could be seen from the ramp up to the side door.

Click here to read proposed legislation that would establish a deposit system to encourage recycling of bottles and cans.

Water bottles especially seem to be an increasing component of litter all over Plainfield. Of course, the simple solution would be for people to dispose of the bottles in recycling cans rather than to drop them on the ground for someone else to deal with. Maybe the proposed 10-cent deposit would either make people more inclined to carry personal, refillable water bottles or not to buy so much bottled water.

I saw a sign once in the Plainfield High School library that listed among prohibited items "stylish water" and it struck me that indeed it had become stylish to have a bottle of water in one's bag or backpack. But many brands are not pure spring water, they are just municipal tap water from some remote town, probably no better than what comes out of our own taps.

The fad has resulted in a kind of "product placement" at meetings and forums, where it is near impossible to snap a picture of a speaker or political candidate without Poland Spring or somesuch featured prominently on the dais. Whatever happened to those pitchers of ice water that we used to see?

As kids way back in the mid-20th century, we used to collect soda bottles to turn in for deposit at the corner store, garnering money for penny candy. Plainfield has quite a few adult scavengers today who collect cans off the street to make money. Perhaps a deposit on plastic bottles would make them more desirable to street collectors.

Hydration has become almost a fetish in our society today. I see people drinking water even in church, as if being deprived of liquid for an hour or two would ruin one's health. Maybe the depressed economy will make people rethink the need for 99-cent water bottles on hand at all times. Adding 10 cents to the cost surely would raise awareness of alternatives.

Warm weather will undoubtedly bring an increase in litter, especially water and drink containers. Would a bottle bill help keep our streets and properties more clear of litter?

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger NaRudy said...

The only issue I would have with a bottle bill would be its impact on municipal recycling. The reduction of materiel in municipal recycling might make it no longer worth it to recycle paper, aluminum foil, etc.

If that can be overcome, I'm all for it.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I worked in retail in NYS for years. I was always amazed at the people who were against the bottle bill. Yes, it was not exactly fun dealing with bottle returns, but I saw the immediate impact of less bottles strewn about the roadside. I was stunned that they didn't require deposit in NY on ALL beverage containers..just carbonated beverages & beer. THEN the water fad kicked in during the mid-90's and once again plastic bottles appeared everywhere along side the roads. If a financial "penalty" upfront via a deposit is what it takes for people not to litter, I am all for it. I hope NJ requires bottle deposit on ALL plastics, bottles what have you. It's better for the environment. The only ones against, unfortunately are businesses. This is one of the few times the government gets it right IF they pass it. NYS is finally tweaking their bottle bill law to cover plastic water & juice bottles as well. Let's hope for the environment it passes in NJ as well.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I moved to NJ in 1994 and was shocked there was no bottle deposit. I lived so many years in both CT and NJ with one. It would definitely make an impact on the bottles and cans tossed on the streets in town.

I even remember earning 2 cents a bottle decades ago as a child. With the population here in the state, I think we really need bottle deposits.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we really need a campaign to teach people how to be respectful of their neighbors. What low lifes! You don't litter. It is disrespectful to the people of the town. Maybe the bottle deposit will help, but there is a bigger issue of keeping Plainfield clean.

9:06 AM  

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