Bottle bill expansion makes it through the funnel

The House Environmental Protection Committee on Monday approved a bill that would extend the 5-cent deposit to bottled water, tea, juice and sports drinks.

It’s a step in the right direction, although it would be better to increase the deposit so that redemption centers could receive more than 1 cent for each can and bottle they handle.

Governor Culver’s original bottle bill proposal would have doubled the deposit to 10 cents, giving an extra penny to the redemption centers. However, Culver’s bill also would have returned only 8 cents of the deposit to consumers. The other 2 cents would have gone to fund some environmental programs.

I’m all for increasing environmental funding, but the key to widespread political support for the can and bottle deposit is that it is not a tax–consumers get all of the money back. Converting the deposit into a tax that is not fully refundable would erode public support for this very important recycling program.

I hope the legislature will extend the deposit to a broader range of bottled drinks this year, but in 2009 I hope someone will step up with a bigger bottle bill reform initiative.

For an overview of other bills that hang in the balance this week, read this Des Moines Register piece. Any bill not approved by a legislative committee by this Thursday will be dead for this year’s legislative session.

  • I don't think a deposit increase

    is needed in order to increase the handling fee.  Whoever now pays the penny to the redemption centers (I believe it’s the distributors, but I could be wrong) would pay two cents, and consumers would still get their full 5 cents back.

    I think Culver really screwed up his original proposal and its roll-out.  He should have gone straight for the expansion to more kinds of containers and increasing the handling fee, keeping it simple and focusing on the two most important problems with current law.  Things got all muddled when he proposed increasing the deposit, not giving all of the deposit back and funding other issues with the money/tax.

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