P.O. Box 21293, St. Paul, MN 55121
(651) 291-2722 (888) 542-2932 fax
Recycle Smart Minnesota
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Tim Wilkin, Recycle Smart Minnesota, (612) 554-7273
MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE GETS POLLUTION CONTROL AGENCY REPORT URGING 10 CENT CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEME THAT NEARLY QUADRUPLES STATE’S RECYCLING COSTS AND DAMAGES CURRENT SYSTEM
MPCA report designed to bring beverage container recycling rate to 80 percent
ignores consumer financial burden, dismisses success of single-sort recycling,
masks costs and inconvenience
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report with a plan for a beverage container deposit system in the state has landed at the legislature, incorporating a flawed scheme that would quadruple the overall cost of recycling in Minnesota and place the burden on the backs of consumers, according to Recycle Smart Minnesota, a broad-based coalition of retailers, food and beverage businesses, farm organizations, grocers, restaurants and distributors.
A vocal advocate of recycling in Minnesota, Recycle Smart Minnesota is a proponent of single-sort curbside collection and opposes the proposed imposition of a 10 cent deposit system for nearly all beverage containers up to a gallon in size.
“This forces consumers into a more inefficient system and it makes it more difficult for them to recycle,” said Tim Wilkin, spokesman for Recycle Smart Minnesota. “What we know is that when you make it easy and more convenient for the consumer, they’ll recycle more, and more of these valuable materials are recovered.”
Single-sort recycling, now available to about 60 percent of Minnesota residents, has demonstrated major gains in recycling in every community where it’s been introduced, Wilkin explains. Minneapolis boosted its recycling rate by 58 percent with single-sort, increasing its overall recycling collections by more than 400 tons. Additionally, the city of Albert Lea’s new single-sort recycling saw an immediate increase of 50 percent. Other cities, including St. Paul, are expecting substantial increases in overall recycling as they implement newly adopted single-sort systems.
Current recycling costs Minnesotans an estimated $74 million per year, according to Recycle Smart Minnesota. The MPCA’s bottle deposit proposal would spend $219 million more to focus on what amounts to about 3 percent of the overall waste stream. The figure includes MPCA’s total system cost of $179 million, plus an estimated $40 million to be borne directly by consumers through trips made to redemption centers where deposits could be refunded. Fifty two counties would have only one redemption center, forcing residents into long trips just to redeem their beverage containers.
MPCA’s bottle deposit scheme would increase the overall recycling rate from about 46 percent to just under 48 percent, according to Recycle Smart Minnesota. “The bang isn’t worth the buck,” Wilkin said. “Consumers would be out of pocket a lot of money.”
Though some at the state legislature have indicated that bottle deposit is off the table for the 2014 session, Wilkin advises caution. “This idea will come back, and it won’t be any better next year,” he said. “People need to know that it would damage the current system financially by pulling the most valuable materials from the recycling stream, while having only a slight increase in recycling.”
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