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Re: E-M:/ Bottle-return debate

Stephaney Guild <skeroson@yahoo.com> wrote:
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 10:51:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: Stephaney Guild <skeroson@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: E-M:/ Bottle-return debate
To: Rane Curl <ranecurl@engin.umich.edu>

Having recently graduated from college and, while in college, having lived with a large variety of people and their varied degrees of cleanliness, I don't think an awareness campaign would encourage people to clean their empties.  Even in my own home I have difficulty getting my guests to make my life easier when returning bottles.  I have a friend who, though he is often kind enough to move his 'empty' container to my home location for returnables (box in kitchen), also consistently fails to drink the last half inch of his beverage (not a pretty nor good-smelling combination).  I have a few other friends who insist on using bottles and cans for ashtrays or a place to spit while chewing.  On top of this, I have previously worked in a gas station as well as a small grocery store (with can/bottle return machines) and I understand the messes and inconvenience that come with accepting returnables.  To compund the whole thing, I know what it is like to deal with disgusting bottle returns (though I have never seen one filled/coated in vomit, thank goodness) and I am still not about to rinse other people's ashes or tobacco spit out of a bottle to take it back. 

I don't think people will decide to clean their returnables before bringing them to the store, no matter what kind of awareness campaign, simply because people regard these returnables as waste products.  Most people do not deal with the mess and the odor associated with these returnables on a daily basis, nor does it occur to them to think about it.  Or there are people like me who know a bit more about the inconveniences of this system but don't want to deal with it in my own home.

I'm not confident in the 'penny plan' for many reasons which have already been covered on this list.  The current bottle bill works in its current capacity simply because of the reward.  It would be nice to see it expanded to cover all beverage containers (or in a different world, all manufactured products that have recycleable value) and/or expanded to raise the rates to reflect inflation (great suggestion to the person who made it). However the current ideas proposed for an expanded bill do not resolve a few very large issues.  It bypasses the retailers who must collect these items (storage and cleanliness issues) and it appears that there is limited incentive for large retailers.  It fails to acknowldege the difficulty of getting distributors to remove the bottles from stores (the truckers don't like the nastiness and they try to avoid pick up whenever possible, an even larger issue for restaurants and bars).  It doesn't address the overall issue of waste reduction.

There is a lot of work to be done; just my two cents.

- Stephaney

Rane Curl <ranecurl@engin.umich.edu> wrote:
Enviro-Mich message from Rane Curl

On Tue, 22 Aug 2006, Ishgooda wrote:

> I work at a Rite Aid store. Cans and bottles can become a nightmare to
> contend with in small backrooms. We have six open bottom open top boxes
> lined with large bottle return plastic bags situated in a walk space
> with about an 18 inch clearance. This means filled bags collect in
> piles on top of the boxes until the distributors pick them up. They try
> to avoid doing so. Each bag contains over a hundred cans or plastic
> bottles. In the summer, gnats cloud over the top of the bags
> necessitating pesticide use in a closed area...or the inhalation of
> bugs. Some of the returnables come in in absolutely disgusting
> condition. Sticky, filled with leftover cigarette ashes. (even vomit in
> one case) It's nauseating. We only take the brands we sell as there is
> no way to return the ones we don't. (no pick up). Grocery stores have
> much larger areas to deal with the recyclable than others. Expanding
> pickup to bottles from water, etc at the store level for some (such as
> us) would be totally unworkable. Shift Supervisor, Rite Aid

Is any effort made to ask everyone to rinse all bottles and can before
recycling? I don't recall signs in the stores, much less messages on the
containers themselves. An awareness campaign in this regard might go a
long way to reduce the problem.

--Rane L Curl

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