Bill requires stores to have redemption services


POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A long-debated issue over where to recycle bottles is back again.

Senate Bill 243 is making its way through the state Legislature requiring retailers measuring more than 75,000 square feet to redeem recyclable beverage containers.

That would include big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Sam's Club, and Hawaii's newest arrival, Target.

“;This bill is about making things more convenient for people who want to do the right thing by recycling their bottles and cans,”; said Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kalaeloa-Makakilo), introducer of the bill. “;They (big-box retailers) have the space to accommodate redemption centers and should be willing to do their part for our environment.”;

The Senate bill targets the remaining 28 percent of Hawaii residents who don't recycle, based on recent statistics from the state Department of Health. Many consumers have complained that it is a hassle due to center locations and inconsistent hours.

Several versions of the bill have been introduced, but stalled, in the Legislature since the Hawaii bottle bill took effect in 2005, requiring the state to reimburse consumers their 5-cent deposits for aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers.

Earlier versions offered retailers tax credits, or required them to operate a redemption center if there was not one within a two-mile radius. A House bill last year sought to require dealers in high-density populations to operate centers.

Another House bill introduced this session would extend rebate programs for the purchase of reverse vending machines to 2014.

Reynolds Recycling, which operates most redemption centers in the isles, testified against the Senate bill. President Terry Telfer said big-box stores probably won't offer enough machines for the volume of customers they receive daily, resulting in long lines.

Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Carol Pregill also opposed the bill, saying: “;Retailers should not be mandated to become garbage collectors.”;

Besides the cost of reverse vending machines, Pregill said retailers would also need to pay for additional staff, electricity, security and contract services to haul containers from the property.

“;Given the state of our economy, this is not the time to burden retailers with additional costs,”; she said.

The Sierra Club supports the bill, but wants it to include stores 10,000 square feet and larger so it would include most supermarkets, without putting a burden on smaller mom-and-pops.

Sierra Club director Robert Harris said similar laws already are in place in California, Oregon, New York, and Massachusetts. The state health department supports the bill, saying it also would lower the square footage threshold.


Bottle bills

» SB243: Requires retail dealers with more than 75,000 square feet of retail space to operate redemption centers, effective October 2009.
» Introducers: Senators Mike Gabbard, Gary Hooser
» Status: Passed second reading, approved by committee on health. Scheduled for third reading today.
» HB574: Extends rebate program for reverse vending machines past the June 30 expiration date, to 2014, and increases financial incentives. Appropriates moneys for county recycling programs
» Introducers: Representatives Pono Chong, Sharon Har
» Status: Passed second reading, approved by committee on finance. Scheduled for third reading tomorrow.