Friday, March 16, 2007

Bottle Bill and Recycling

In yesterday's Crain's Insider the newsletter posted an item from the Hugo Neu recycling company; the firm that was lionized when it announced that it would be handling all of the plastic collected in the city's municipal recycling program. Well now it seems that the company has some serious doubts about the so-called "Bigger Better Bottle Bill."

The doubts arise naturally from the fact that the BBBB will remove thousands of tons of recycled plastics and aluminum from the curbside program and will cost Hugo Neu an estimated $1.2 million a year in lost revenues. All of which is not really surprising to us since we have been commenting for awhile on the difficulty, if not the total incompatibility of trying to maintain dual recycling systems.

When it comes down to it the curbside program is grossly inefficient and is maintained more to satisfy the ideological impulses of the environmental lobby than for its recycling effectiveness. As NYPIRG itself admits, a deposit system is a more efficient collection methodology than the municipal program's $300/ton collection cost.

What deposits are not good at is being fair to the city's beleaguered store owners who simply lack the storage space for the current system, let alone the proposed expanded one. The solution lies in using a deposit-based system that takes the cans and bottles out of the stores and into free standing redemption centers. In order to make this kind of a system work, however, it is essential that redemption fees are adequate to support the creation of the recycling businesses that would emerge with such a system.

Clearly, this kind of an approach would be job creating as well as recycling efficient. What stands in the way are the folks at NYPIRG and their assorted allies who can't seem to fathom anything that would relieve local store owners of any of their burdens. The bottom line: the state cannot support a dual recycling system that erodes the effectiveness of both methodologies.