There are those of us alive in 2017 who still remember when you weren’t charged a nickel deposit on a bottle of soda.
Back before 1983 in New York, you just tossed the bottle away like everything else and didn’t think anything of it.
It either ended up in a landfill or the environment, spoiling the sides of roads, in wooded areas or in lakes and streams.
It was a mess.
But then we passed the bottle bill, requiring people to pay a charge on top of the purchase price of plastic and metal cans and bottles. If you wanted your money back, you had to return the bottle to a recycling area.
The legislation wasn’t very popular at the time. People complained about being charged extra money for a popular product, and they didn’t want to be burdened with the task of collecting and returning all those cans and bottles just to get their own money back.
But the legislation halted a growing environmental disaster of epic proportions, the benefits of which are still being felt today.
Bottle bills helped reduce roadside container litter by 70 percent.
In 2015, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the law led to the recycling of 4.6 billion plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers totaling more than 306,000 tons. As an added benefit to the environment, the recycling of these beverage containers helps eliminate 200,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.
We griped about it. Some of us blew it off. But we got used to it. We made it more convenient. We expanded it. And now we enthusiastically embrace it as if it was always the law of the land.
Now we need to do the same…
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