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Governor O’Malley has rightly included container recycling in his newly introduced Climate Change plan, in the form of a deposit on recyclable beverage containers, more commonly referred to as a Bottle Bill. The plan would get our state to an achievable goal of an 80% container recycling rate by 2020.
This summer alone, nearly 1 billion recyclable beverage containers will get trashed instead of recycled in Maryland. As the Governor points out in his plan, less than 25% of our bottles and cans are being recycled. This means more leaky landfills, dirtier air from incinerators, and more litter and litter cleanup costs. Our low container recycling rate has serious consequences – for public health, climate pollution, and our quality of life. Maryland can do better
Widely considered one of the most, if not the most effective recycling program in the country, the 10 states with Bottle Bills have container recycling rates triple ours and have all seen major reductions in litter. A 2011 Impact Analysis by the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center asserts that “Beverage container deposit programs have proven to be the most effective tool for reducing litter.”
Reuse and recycling programs are best for society. They are cleaner, safer, and less of a drain on natural resources. As the Governor explains, "We will set the long term goal of becoming a zero waste state. ... In order to reach our goals we have to come up with smarter and more innovative and more sustainable ways to deal with our waste."
Maryland should be leading the country in recycling and sustainable waste management, not falling behind as we currently are. While the beverage companies are profiting from an increasingly single-use throwaway society, taxpayers and local governments are left to pick up their trash, quite literally. We pay the financial and public health costs of the ever increasing amounts of packaging they produce.
This commonsense law is a simple way to incentivize recycling and reduce litter and we applaud Governor O’Malley for taking the first step towards bringing the Bottle Bill to Maryland. So far this summer Maryland PIRG has talked to more than 5,000 people across the state about container recycling and the response has been overwhelmingly positive - we’ve collected thousands of signatures in support of Governor O’Malley bringing the Bottle Bill to Maryland.
It won’t be easy. Already, special interest lobbyists are putting pressure on the state to back off. It’s going to take a lot for Maryland to overcome special interest opposition, so it’s important that Marylanders have the Governor’s back.
It’s time to bring the bottle bill to Maryland to increase recycling and reduce litter.
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