Bill aims to make recycling easier
Larger stores would have to take back containers they sell
Supermarkets, department stores and other retailers that sell beverages in HI-5 deposit containers will be required to accept the empty bottles and cans for redemption under a bill making its way through the state Legislature.
New Bottle Bill
» Requires most retailers who sell beverages in HI-5 containers to accept empties for redemption
» Exempts retailers who subcontract recyclers to have redemption centers within 1,000 feet of their businesses
» Requires redemption centers to open at least 35 hours a week including some evenings and weekends
» Requires centers to count the first 200 containers for redemption, rather than weigh them
Senate Bill 1702, SD1, is headed to a vote by the full Senate after the Energy and Environment Committee voted to recommend its approval Thursday.
Under current law, retailers within a 2-mile radius of a redemption center are not required to redeem deposit beverage containers. The bill eliminates that exemption. However, they can get an exemption if they subcontract a recycler to have a redemption center within 1,000 feet of their business, under the bill.
Not affected by the bill would be other retailers that are exempt under current law because they sell beverages only through vending machines, have premises less than 5,000 square feet, have demonstrated financial hardship or meet other criteria established by the state health director.
Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Menor, who authored the bill, said the change will increase recycling by making it easier for consumers to redeem their empty containers.
"We're under 70 percent redemption on the recyclable containers. That's not enough. Too many of these items are still being dumped into the landfills. We gotta do a lot better," said Menor, D-Mililani.
In addition, the bill requires redemption centers and retailers that accept empty deposit beverage containers to operate at least 35 hours a week, including some evenings and weekends, and requires them to count containers up to 200 for redemption. Redemption centers now have the option of refunding consumers per container or by weight.
Ed Thompson of the Hawaii Food Industry Association said, "We can't be doing redemptions in the stores. The sanitation is the biggest issue. We would have to deal with insects, mice and rats."
When the program started, Thompson said there were areas that did not have redemption centers because property owners and shopping center managers did not allow them. And he said there is at least one shopping center on Oahu that still does not allow container redemptions on its property.
If the bill becomes law, most stores would probably chose to have reverse vending machines, Thompson said, which will require at least 100 square feet of store space.
"For us it's going to be a big cost. Square footage in Hawaii is expensive," he said.
Gov. Linda Lingle submitted legislation this year that transfers management of the deposit beverage container program from the state Department of Health to retailers. Menor said he does not think lawmakers will support such a transfer.