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'A Penny Isn't Enough'

June 09, 1988

California's bottle bill isn't working very well. A lack of business is responsible and was inevitable. Californians recycled over 50% of the aluminum cans before Assemblyman Burt Margolin's (D-Los Angeles) bill was passed. This was done for profit through the approximately 650 recycling businesses in place prior to the bill.

After the bill, 2,400 new recycling center were created and several new companies (newly created or from out of state) raced in to negotiate contracts with the grocery chains and mine the new riches. The existing recyclers knew that there was not enough material for 2,400 centers to be profitable, and they were unable to match the promises of the new companies to serve all the stores in a chain.

So now the cry goes out for 3 cents per container. The problem is still the same. The bottle bill compromise worked out with the beverage industries, grocers, and consumer groups left out the most important group--the recyclers who already did more than half.

Convenience is not the key. Nor is 3 cents per container the key--not if our recycling increase on aluminum has increased less than 5% with an additional 2,400 recycling centers. Very few of the old-line recyclers qualified for the convenience zone designation defined in the bill.

If we increase the redemption to 3 cents the cost of the program goes from $120 million to $360 million.

The solution is still the same. Work with the industry that was already doing the job, not around them. They didn't cost the public anything before. In fact, they paid salaries, taxes, and millions of dollars which went back into the communities. Don't continue to subsidize inefficiency.

STEVE YOUNG

Baldwin Park

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