This week’s long-awaited hearing on the bottle bill was cut short, due to endless discussions of other items, and will resume next week. That’s the bad news.
The GOOD NEWS is that the little bit of testimony that we had time for was absolutely perfect! See the short press release below.
The other GOOD NEWS is that the delay may prove to be a blessing in disguise, because it gives us that much more time to hammer away at the 5 votes we need.
In the meantime, here’s how you can help, one more time . . . And don’t forget to share this e-mail with your own network and beyond. You never know whose desk it might land on.
1. COME TO THE DAD-GUMMED HEARING! TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 11:30 CDT, LEGISLATIVE PLAZA, ROOM 12
I hate to say it, but except for our legion of speakers, Tuesday’s hearing room was PRACTICALLY EMPTY. Folks did trickle in over time, and we are grateful to every one of them. But if this bill is really as popular as we say it is, we should be able to PACK THE HEARING ROOM!!! Shame on us if we cannot.
Think of it this way: One way or the other, you’ll see history being made. Either the bill passes, which will be hugely historic; or I explode into a thousand pieces, which will also be historic, though not nearly so pleasant.
But seriously: Next week, we’re the second item on the agenda, following a budget presentation by the Department of Tourist Development. That will probably take 20 minutes, so feel free to arrive closer to 12 noon. We should be finished–one way or the other!–by 12:30.
2. WORK YOUR CONTACTS IN THREE SWING DISTRICTS
We need to be sure of five votes, and we can’t take any chances. The following three senators in particular need to hear FROM THEIR OWN CONSTITUENTS by Tuesday morning, and preferably by Saturday evening. (Please don’t call on Sunday–that’s Easter.)
They’ll all be back in their districts later today and will return to Nashville Monday afternoon. If you personally don’t live in one of these districts, try to think of folks who do. Tell them the basics–using the bullet points below if you like–and then give them the contact info.
Thanks as always!
1. SENATOR MIKE FAULK (R-Church Hill)
Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson and Union counties
District office (423) 357-8088
Nashville office (615) 741-2061
Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Rhea, Roane and Scott counties
District office (865) 285-9797
Nashville office (615) 741-1449
Cumberland, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White counties
Home: (931) 839-3392
Nashville office (615) 741-3978
TODAY’S PRESS RELEASE:
Bottle Makers to Senate Committee: “We Support Bottle Bills”
Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the proposed “bottle bill” (5-cent deposit on glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers) was cut short by the clock, but not before executives from the nation’s second-largest glass-container manufacturer told lawmakers, “We used to oppose bottle bills. Now we support them.”
Peter J. Walters, vice president for purchasing and distribution at Muncie, Ind.-based Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc. (formerly the Ball Corporation), explained that container-deposit programs alone provide the quantity and quality of recycled glass required by his industry.
Other collection systems, such as curbside and drop-off bins, not only yield low volumes, he said. What material they do generate is often mixed with unacceptable items such as test-tube glass, Pyrex bowls and ceramic coffee mugs.
The problem is not simply the cost of buying and installing expensive sorting equipment, said Walters, nor is it just the added energy cost of running furnaces at higher temperatures. It’s the fact that even the best sorting systems can’t always filter out minute contaminants. Champagne bottles have been known to explode because of the weakness created by a tiny bit of embedded stone.
Also giving testimony on Tuesday was Jai Templeton, mayor of McNairy County in southwest Tennessee. Templeton is a member of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors, which has endorsed the bottle bill.
Templeton told the committee that he personally favors the measure, in part for its ability to create jobs and reduce solid waste at no cost to local government, but equally for its ability to reduce litter. According to the county sheriff’s deputy in change of litter pickups, he said, at least half of McNairy County’s litter is beer bottles, soda cans and other beverage containers.
The proposed bill is expected to eliminate 80% – 90% of beverage-container litter while continuing to fund the county litter crews and other litter programs.
Hearings on SB 1404 are scheduled to resume Tuesday, April 7, at 11:30 a.m. in the Senate Environment Committee.
A summary of key points:
- This year’s bill (via an amendment that was approved on Tuesday) poses no new cost to beverage distributors. They will pay only a “container-recovery fee” of 1/8 cent, which works out to roughly what they now pay via the “litter taxes.” These taxes will be repealed when the bill passes, and the funding for the litter grants will instead come out of the bottle-bill revenues.
- Empty containers do NOT get returned to the grocery store. Returns are to any of hundreds of independent businesses known as certified redemption centers, which may be owned by individuals, businesses, local governments and nonprofit agencies.
- Redemption centers make a living by (1) selling the container scrap to local scrap dealers or end-users; and (2) receiving 1 cent per container out of the unclaimed deposits. Assuming 5 billion containers a year, 85% redemption, 500 redemption centers and a 5-year average of scrap prices, this provides an average annual gross revenue of more than $200,000 per center.
- Redemption centers may, if acceptable to the local government and the local recycling infrastructure, also accept non-deposit items such as cardboard, newspaper and pickle jars. This potentially doubles the number of “convenience centers” in the state, at no cost whatever to the state or to local governments. And because people will be going to the redemption centers to get back their deposits, their recycling of these other items will also increase. (Overall residential recycling in deposit states is 3 times what it is here–31% vs 10%.)
- The bottle bill will dramatically reduce TN’s litter, half of which is bottles and cans. A 5-cent deposit will reduce this portion of litter by 80% to 90%, and will reduce overall litter by at least 40%, perhaps more.
- A randomized survey of 777 registered voters by UT’s Social Science Research Institute found that 80.4 percent of Tennesseans support a 5-cent deposit.
- All three of the major container-commodity trade groups–the Aluminum Association, the Glass Packaging Institute and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers–now acknowledge container deposits to be a legitimate and effective way to get both the quantity and quality of container scrap their members need.
- 80% of all containers are beverage containers; and 80% of all returned containers (including virtually all of the glass and aluminum) are used to make new beverage containers. The plastic that is not used in containers is used in such products as carpet and fleece.
- The bill will keep more than 200,000 tons of material, collectively worth at least $50 million, out of landfills, while saving the energy equivalent of 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a year and avoiding 150,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases.
- The bill will actually help hold down future beverage-price increases, because in most cases, it’s less expensive to make new containers out of recycled ones. Beverage prices are lower, on average, in the 11 deposit states.
Marge Davis, Ph.D.
Pride of Place/Tennessee Bottle Bill Project
A Project of Scenic Tennessee, Inc.
45 Burris Court
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
home (615) 758-8647
fax (615) 754-0966
cell (615) 294-2651
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