WM, others take aim at Minnesota bottle bill proposal

WM, others take aim at Minnesota bottle bill proposal

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Oct. 9, 2013

A proposal to introduce a deposit on PET bottles and aluminum cans in Minnesota was met with strong opposition last week during a public hearing held by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Representatives from the grocery, retail, manufacturing and recycling sectors expressed their concern that a deposit on beverage containers would raise costs, hurt business and require a state that already has respectable recycling rates to do too much.

Julie Ketchum, the government affairs director for Waste Management, asked industry representatives to unite in opposing a deposit program. "We urge you not to consider deposits," Ketchum said, adding that Minnesota's overall recycling figures put the state at "number two in the nation." She added that "Minnesota is comparable with California and Oregon."

State recycling data provided by MPCA indicate there is room for improvement when it comes to container recycling. According to the agency, the state's PET beverage container recycling rate has risen from 24 percent in 2008 to 37.9 percent in 2012. Aluminum can recycling has jumped from 33 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2012. While those rates are promising, MPCA principal planner Peder Sandhei said they would need to rise even further if the state is going to reach its goal of recycling 80 percent of beverage containers.

"This shows that we are doing better than we thought we were ... but are still far below the 80 percent goal," Sandhei said.

Container Recycling Institute president Susan Collins voiced her support for a deposit program, offering California as a prime example of how a state can benefit from such a program. The Golden State has seen its recycling rates surge since adopting a deposit program in 1987.

The MCPA will have until January to submit a draft proposal to Minnesota's legislature.

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