June 20, 2000
Letters to the Editor
The Albuquerque Tribune
Albuquerque, New Mexico
In a vain attempt to increase recycling of plastic beverage bottles the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) has brought 'slam dunk' to Albuquerque.
The trade association has placed 800 three-foot high, plastic 'bottle bins' at convenience stores, gas stations and other high traffic locations in and around the city. Citizens are encouraged to 'slam dunk' their empty plastic beverage bottles into the green bins. That should be no problem since a good number of soft drink consumers in Albuquerque are well over 3 feet tall. What might be a problem is convincing the citizens that the bins will have any long-term effect.
Similar 'bottle bin' programs in other cities have done nothing to improve the falling plastic beverage bottle recycling rate, which has dropped for four consecutive years. Promotional programs, like 'slam dunk', that glamorize recycling in attempt to trigger the recycling impulse, are short term and short lived. Recycling is not a short-term enterprise. It takes a long-term commitment and a strong incentive to achieve high recovery rates of plastic bottles or any other recyclable material.
Bottle bills provide that incentive by requiring refundable deposits on beverage containers. The proof is in the recycling rates. Plastic soda bottle recycling rates are three times as high in the ten bottle bill states and the one bottle bill city than they are in most non-bottle bill states. Bottle bills do more than recover plastic soda bottles (and other beverage containers) for recycling. They also keep them out of landfills and off of city streets, playgrounds and parks.
Albuquerque should replace the 'bottle bins' with a bottle bill.