I grabbed the brown glass long-neck from the floor next to the couch this morning, and dropped it into our recycling bin. I had set it there last night after watching a pretty decent movie from Netflix…it was called “A perfect Getaway”
If you like action Thrillers with a really nice twist at the end…its worth it.
As the bottle clinked into the bin with the Salad dressing bottle and the others destined for their “green box” brethren. I Thought back to some of the old days when my family would get cases of soda from the market and we would bring the bottles back. The bottles would make their way back to the bottler and then back to the market again. I remember how the bases of some of the thicker Coke bottles had that worn dull look, a bit like “beach glass”. These bottles would be used over and over, and it was socially accepted. No fears of what might have been in there before..sticky goo… from the previous user, or maybe even a cigarette butt.
We bought, we drank, we returned…it was natural. I also remember my grandfather mowing the lawn with a Blatz long-neck in his hip pocket. He too, took his bottles back to have them refilled as did the generations before him. If I ask my daughters now what happens to an old soda bottle they say it is recycled, we are part of the 30-35% that recycle here in Colorado. Those numbers seem small compared to what can be obtained. When I was growing up in Michigan, a new law was passed in 1976 and that went into effect in 1978…What law? you might ask… The Famous Bottle Bill.
This required a 10 cent deposit on carbonated beverage containers…Soda and Beer…mostly, this was long before the bottled water craze and the multitude of sports and energy drink we see today. At first people were pissed off, it added almost two and half bucks to every case, but then people realized they got that money back when they brought back the bottles, the people who then got pissed were the store clerks and businesses that had to deal with the empties…in time they got used to it. In the early 80’s, in college, I remember hanging out in the dorms and tossing back a few with my dorm mates…ya it was against the rules…but that’s another story. Sometimes, an out-of-state student would pitch a can into the trash. Everybody else in the room would exclaim…”DUDE! We don’t throw dimes away…pick that back up”. We would then explain our bottle bill. Michigan, then and now, has the highest bottle deposit of any state. Yes, it is only a dime, but the other states that have bottle bills are mostly just a nickle. The Statistics on recycling show that the difference is huge. In Michigan the recycle rate averages about 95% other deposit states are 10% to 30% lower…The Container Recycling Institute has estimated a national beverage container recycling rate of about 33%, a rate that would be much lower if it were not for the high recycling rates in the eleven deposit states pulling up the national average.
In 2004, about 130 billion aluminum, glass, and plastic beverage containers were not recycled: double the amount wasted in 1990.1 Instead, these containers ended up in landfills and incinerators, or strewn across the landscape as litter.
I also remember seeing “homeless” type people collecting cans and bottles along the roadways when I lived in Michigan…they were getting paid for this… in the deposit they collected from the cans. The results were obvious over the years…far less road side trash. People did not want to throw away their dimes. If they did, there was a small population of people who would pick up their slack.
If you want to read more check out this great article.
So what will the future, hold? True…recycling by re-using / refilling the bottles? A Nation-wide bottle bill?
Both? It’s only a matter of time before all the landfills are filled.
The ratio of non-deposit vs. deposit containers collected during the Worcester Earth Day cleanup is 4.2:1. This result is remarkably similar to the tally conducted at the 4/12/03 Charles River Cleanup, at which the non-deposit containers outnumbered the deposit containers by a 4.5:1 ratio.