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.