A volunteer poses with the bottles and cans collected at a Massachusetts watershed cleanup.
A month after the governor of Delaware proposed dumping the state’s beverage container refund law in favor of a new tax for community recycling, in-state and national environmental groups have come out against the recommendation. Delaware is one of 11 states that has a law providing for beverage container refunds, which are strongly opposed by the beverage industry and some beverage retailers.
In their response, Delaware advocates and the Container Recycling Institute said the Delaware law and refund system need to be expanded, not done away with. They pointed out that the current deposit law applies only to soda and beer in glass and plastic bottles, 19% of all beverages sold in the state, and is the only deposit law that does not include aluminum cans, although 50% of beverages are in cans.
“Expanding our bottle deposit law along with statewide curbside recycling will be the best way to keep Delaware’s ocean, waves and beaches clean,” said Melissa Dombrowski, Chair of the Surfrider Foundation’s Delaware Chapter.
Curbside recycling programs have been demonstrated to achieve a return of 30 to 50% of beverage containers, while the most effective refund states achieve 80% returns or better. Delaware’s rate is significantly lower than most other refund states in part because of the limited scope of containers covered.
Dave Dempsey is a writer active in conservation for more than 25 years. A frequent freelance contributor and newsweekly columnist, Dave is the author of four award-winning books on the environment and a biography of Michigan’s longest-serving Governor, William Milliken. A native of Michigan who now lives in the Twin Cities metro in Minnesota, Dave served as environmental advisor to Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard from 1983-89. President Clinton appointed him to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in 1994. Dave has also held numerous administrative, policy and consulting positions for nonprofit conservation and environmental organizations in Michigan and Minnesota. He was both policy director and executive director at the Michigan Environmental Council and Great Lakes policy consultant for Clean Water Action. Dave has a bachelor of arts degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in natural resource development from Michigan State University, and has served as an adjunct university instructor at MSU in environmental policy.