Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Legislature should
pass bottle bill

The issue: Proposed legislation
is intended to clear up the litter
that mars Hawaii's landscape.

A proposal before the state Legislature is intended to reduce the litter that blemishes Hawaii's parks, roadways and beaches and jams our landfills. The so-called bottle bill should become law.

The measure would put a redemption fee on each of the estimated 800 million plastic, glass or aluminum beverage containers sold in Hawaii each year and would direct that the money collected would pay for administering the recycling program and cover the costs that retailers and distributors incur.

Such programs have been successful in the 10 states that have established them, according to the Container Recycling Institute, a research and education organization in Virginia. Oregon, which passed the nation's first bottle bill in 1971, saw an 82 percent decrease in litter in the second year the law was in operation. Other states are recovering about 80 percent of containers for recycling.

Hawaii has drop-off recycling centers, but Suzanne Jones, Honolulu's recycling coordinator, said the recovery rate is only about 20 percent. The city considered curbside recycling, where residents would separate containers for pick up. Such a service could recapture 40 to 60 percent, but would be expensive, she said.

A redemption charge would encourage recycling. Although legislators have not yet set the charges, the original House bill would have placed a 5-cent deposit on a container holding 24 ounces or less and 15 cents on one that holds 25 ounces or more. Beverage distributors would pay 2 cents on each container.

Beverage industry officials who oppose the program argue that these charges would be passed on to the consumer, and that in such a price-sensitive market, sales would be affected. But figures from the institute show that by and large, the fees did not decrease beverage consumption.

Retailers were concerned because they would become responsible for refunding the deposits. State Rep. Hermina Morita, who sponsored the bill, said the proposal has been adjusted so that recycling businesses would set up collection centers to do that task.

Morita believes the distributor fee and unclaimed deposit charges will cover operating costs. Jones contends that the/program rightly places costs on those who buy such products.

The bill has received wide support. County public works departments say it will reduce pressure on landfills.

Recycling businesses, of course, see other people's trash as treasure. The recycling institute's figures show that almost every state with such programs gained employment. Clubs and community organizations view the program as a way to raise funds as they can collect discarded containers for the deposits. Conservation groups hail the measure as a victory for the environment.

This bill should result in a cleaner Hawaii.

Russian president
silences critical press

The issue: Vladimir Putin
orchestrates the takeover of an
independent media company.

CONTROL of the media is essential to any government coup or imposition of a police state. The brazen seizure of the only major Russian news company critical of the Kremlin by agents of President Vladimir Putin should be seen in no lesser regard.

The democracy that Russians so joyously celebrated a decade ago faces a new threat of authoritarian rule. In dealing with Russia, the Bush administration should recognize, as many Russians do, that a loss of freedom of speech and press is only a first step.

Vladimir Gusinsky, a pioneer in commercial banking -- he founded the MOST bank -- and real estate in Russia's fledgling market economy, built his media empire in the mid-'90s. By Western standards, Gusinsky is no media saint. Like most of the other new Russian tycoons, he rubbed elbows with mafiosi, engaged in questionable financial dealings and was too close, and indebted, to Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, whom he backed to be president.

When the various outlets of Gusinsky's Media-Most empire criticized Putin during last year's presidential campaign, especially for the war in Chechnya, Putin, who is a former KGB agent, lashed back. Last June, he, ordered a raid on Gusinsky's media headquarters by masked, gun-toting thugs and jailed him for three days on charges of corruption. The charges turned out to be hollow, but Gusinsky was released only after agreeing to sell his media holdings to Gazprom, the government-controlled natural gas monopoly. Fearing arrest, Gusinsky holed up in Spain but his media continued to operate and criticize the Putin administration.

Having failed to shut down the Media-Most company, Putin obviously assigned Gazprom to do so by initiating a business takeover. Gazprom seized NTV, the only major independent TV network, in Saturday's pre-dawn hours. Gazprom and an allied shareholder of Media-Most's Sem Dnei (Seven Days) publishing company then suspended publication of its influential daily newspaper Segodnya (Today) and fired the staff at its weekly news magazine Itogi (Wrap-up), published in cooperation with the U.S. magazine Newsweek. All that's left of Media-Most as Russians have come to know and respect it is the popular news radio station Ekho Moskvi (Echo of Moscow), and its days probably are numbered.

Putin would like to depict all this as business transactions over which he has no control, but Russians know better.

This is not about business, said freelance writer Yevgenia Albats in the English-language Moscow Times: "It is about democracy in Russia, a democracy that perished early Saturday morning."

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin