THE ISSUE: State senator files bottle bill for 2020.
OUR OPINION: Florida needs to step up and have one.
If you’ve been keeping current with the news lately, you know that garbage pollution is a global issue with no clear end in sight.
What was once a novel idea in the early 1900s, synthetic plastics have now completely saturated the consumer industry while impenetrable waterways and human food sources with the impurities of waste along the way.
To combat this stark reality, state Sen. Keith Rader is looking to steer consumers and companies to higher recycling rates with his proposed “Florida Beverage Container Deposit Act,” (Monday, Aug. 19, page A3), filed for 2020, and it is something that lawmakers in Florida should get serious about enacting.
The proposal, similar to what 10 other states currently have, would require consumers to pay a 5 cent tax per beverage container between 6-25 fluid ounces, and 10 cents for each for containers between 25 fluid ounces and 1 gallon purchased. The tax would be 100% refundable to the consumer as long as the bottles are brought back to “reverse vending machines” at grocery stores and redemption centers.
This includes plastic, glass, aluminum, steel and bimetal.
States like Maine, Michigan, New York, Hawaii and others already have beverage container laws, and have seen their recycling rates skyrocket. After imposing a 10-cent deposit in 2000, Michigan saw a 95% return rate on bottles and cans (Florida’s recycling rate is at 56%). Annually, these programs return millions of dollars worth of deposits right back to the consumer.
Recycling is a lifestyle and expectation in these states, and the bottle bills turned into law are proving to be intelligent, common sense waste management tactics imposed by state governments. Florida needs to be a part of it.
Rader’s proposed Senate Bill 50 also seeks to reduce litter in Florida by providing a “financial incentive” to do so. With money to gain, people are motivated to pick up roadside waste. Keeping roadways clean is essential to tourism, Florida’s largest industry, and improves the quality of life for residents.
Citrus County should take the lead on this. The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) are planning changes in garbage management, and improving recycling rates should be a part of the county’s long-term plan.
We call on commissioners to commit further to making citizens dispose of their waste properly and take action.
Commissioners across Florida should unite together to endorse this bill and make a pledge statewide efforts in proper recycling. Citrus is a green county on the Nature Coast. Let’s live up to the name.
Realistically, it is a shared responsibility between consumer and producer to make sure recyclable waste is managed. This bill proposes a plan to mandate just that.
Americans cannot expect other countries to take our garbage and recycle it. We need to do it ourselves. Don’t be afraid of a deposit-refund system to ensure recyclables are recycled.
Above all, it is our responsibility as humans to work harder to leave no tracks behind. After all, we don’t want our great-great-great
-grandchildren bragging to say they climbed Garbage Mountain in Lecanto over the weekend.