Thursday, December 23, 2004

Change urged
in bottle law

Have the counties run the
program and cut the deposit
to 5 cents, the House GOP urges

State House Republicans want to transfer the bottle-recycling program from the state to the counties and reduce the additional amount consumers pay for beverages to 5 cents a container from 6 cents.

"That's how it works everywhere else," said Rep. Galen Fox (R, Waikiki-Ala Moana), House minority leader.

Fox said the House Republican Caucus would introduce the proposal when the next state legislative session begins Jan. 19.

He said transferring the program from the state Health Department made sense because the counties are already in the business of collecting trash, running landfills and will soon begin curbside recycling programs.

A state Department of Health representative said it would not be fair to comment on the proposal, since no one in the department had seen it.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa also had no comment.

The new program, which started last month, allows the state to collect 6 cents per container marked "HI 5 cent Dep" from beverage bottlers and importers. The fee is passed on to retailers, who pass it on to consumers.

When consumers return the bottles and cans at redemption centers, they get back 5 cents. The cent not refunded is used to run the program.

Under the GOP proposal, bottlers, retailers and consumers would pay just 5 cents a container. Consumers would still get back 5 cents per container turned in. The money to run the program would come from containers not redeemed.

"Not everything gets returned. That's a flat fact," Fox said.

He said the idea to transfer the program from the state to the counties originated with people working with the recycling program, but he would not name them.

The state started collecting 6 cents a container Nov. 1.

The GOP proposal would distribute that money to the counties based on their resident and visitor populations, because "some counties are more loaded with tourists littering the place," he said.

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