Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bottle Bil Battle

In a story in yesterday's Times Union Confidential blog it is reported that the Food Industry Alliance is upset that its long time nemesis, Judy Enck, now Governor Spitzer's top environmental assistant, has been meeting in secret with representatives of Tomra, a company that manufactures and distributes reverse vending machines. The beef? Apparently Ms. Enck has excluded any discussions with the industry group.

The thrust of the attack, however, is that Spitzer is somehow violating his pledge of open government by not talking to the industry. I suppose they have a point but the Governor seems committed to the expansion and the industry's arguments are unchanged, and have remained so since around 1981. Our take is that if they want an audience it would help if they had something new to add to the debate.

We've been trying to get the industry folks to look at a different approach since we offered up the third part redemption center concept almost thirty years ago. The theme there was to create a deposit bank that would supervise a third party collection system that would be based on an infrastructure of redemption centers. With increased handling and collection fees it would be feasible to take deposit containers out of the food stores.

The reality is that deposits are an efficient collection and recycling methodology that are much more so than the antiquated and expensive municipal curbside programs. The mistake of the so-called environmentalists is that they want to maintain both systems simultaneously. An expanded deposit system/redemption center infrastructure would make curbside in NYC thankfully obsolete; and relieve the redemption burden for space-constrained stores.