Deposits put some teeth into recycling
Remember collecting bottles to return them for the deposit? If not, listen up.
Back in the day when softdrink bottling companies reused glass bottles over and over, kids used to make candy money by collecting the 2 or 3 cents grocery stores would pay on behalf of the bottlers.
That was back before soda began coming in aluminum cans or plastic bottles and America became a disposable society.
In recent years, some states have reimposed can and bottle deposits, with an eye toward recycling rather than re-use.
Now a couple of congressmen from the East Coast have introduced a bill to make bottle deposits mandatory nationwide.
Called the Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act of 2009, it would add a 5-cent deposit to the price of each applicable container. If a store sold the same brand of beverage in the same kind and size of package, it would have to accept empty, unbroken returns and refund the deposit money.
Exempted would be states that already have deposit laws, or which already have a high recycling or reuse rate for beverage containers.
The last time Nebraska attempted to impose a deposit system on containers, retailers opposed the idea because of the cost and inconvenience.
But if we are really serious about recycling, making an impact on the wallet or purse is one sure way to do it.
Besides, giving kids a chance to earn a few bucks by recycling empty containers would be a good lesson in simple economics.
Grocers are also being affected by local drives to cut back on the numbers of those disposable plastic bags going into the landfills or blowing around the parking lots.
Washington D.C. is imposing a 5-cent tax on grocery bags -- paper or plastic -- and other communities are following suit, some by as much as 25 cents or more.
The idea is to encourage people to use those reusable cloth bags that are now hanging beside those plastic bags at the checkout counter.
Now comes word that those reusable cloth bags can harbor fungus and bacteria. In fact, two laboratories found that 64 percent of the bags had some type of bacteria, nearly one in three had elevated levels of bacterial contamination, and yeast and mold was found.
A closer look at some of the studies, however, found that they were commissioned by, you guessed it, the plastics industry.
But they do have a point. Any time you are carrying produce, meat poultry or fish, there are going to be microorganisms. So, since you aren't throwing them away, you should treat those reusable bags like you would a cutting board -- clean and sanitize it between uses.
The simplest way would be to throw it in the washing machine.
One has to wonder, however, what the environmental impact of laundering all those reusable bags will be.