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Letters to the Editor
The Boston Globe
P O Box 2378
Boston, Massachusetts 02107-2378
The article "Many unhappy returns - R.I. bottle redemptions in Mass. cost both states" (November 7,1999) made it sound as though Rhode Island's aluminum can scavenging problem is unique. It is not. Scavenging of blue boxes is a problem in many communities across the country.
When a can or bottle is worth a few cents, someone will seize the opportunity to make a few bucks by collecting the scrap value. The reward for bringing containers to a grocery store or redemption center in Mass. is higher than the 2-cent scrap value of an aluminum can. Like 8 other states and one city with bottle bills, all beer and soda containers are worth 5 cents in Mass.
Author Brian Tarcy noted that Mass. is losing some money - maybe as much as $676,000 - $1.7 million a year. But, that has to be measured against the $25 million in unclaimed deposits collected by the state last year. Additional benefits to the state include roadsides, parks and beaches that are free of beer and soda cans and bottles, and recycling rates for beverage containers that exceed 80 percent - more than twice the national average.
Rhode Island's curbside programs may be losing a few dollars here and there because some aluminum cans are being scavenged. But, that would happen with or without a bottle bill state for a neighbor. The real loss to the citizens of Rhode Island is that they don't have a bottle bill of their own to reduce litter, increase recycling and raise money for environmental programs.
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