State legislators seek incentive for recycling used water bottles

Two Bottle Bills, designed to decrease litter by offering monetary incentives for recycled bottles, have been introduced in the Texas House of Representatives and in the Senate.
State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) introduced HB 1473 to the House and State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) introduced SB 645 to the Senate. The bills would require that bottles be refundable for five or ten cents. The refund would come from a deposit paid when the bottle is purchased. The bills also intend to make potential environmental improvements, such as improving water quality and reducing pollution.
“The Green Society student organization has taken the initiative to gain support for the ‘Bottle Bill.’ First, I authored a resolution that was sponsored by COLFA Senator Rosalyn Huff to have UTSA support this legislation. It was passed by the general assembly in early March,” Chad Sundol, president of UTSA’s Green Society, said.
“Second, we have collected petition signatures from the student body and are actively getting the students to call their legislators and the committee members to show their support of the bills.”
Sundol said the main oppositions to this bill will be the Texas Retailers Association and the Texas Beverage Association, “who believe in the status quo of curbside recycling.”
The Texas League of Conservation Voters (TLCV) commissioned a report saying that the bill could reduce litter by as much as 80 percent and could create up to 2,300 jobs in the state.
In a statement on the report, Rodriguez said, “This study demonstrates a beverage container deposit program is a job creator that will have a dramatic impact on economic development and substantially increase recycling in Texas.”
David Weinberg, executive director of the TLCV, said, “It would be difficult to get it passed at this point in time in Texas.” This is because beverage producers and retailers are typically opposed to deposit-recycling legislation, according to Weinberg.
The House bill had a public hearing in the Environmental Regulation Committee on March 26 and now is awaiting a vote by the committee. The Senate bill has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee and is not yet scheduled for a vote. According to NPR, a similar law was also proposed in 2011, but failed to pass, and that, currently, 10 states that have passed similar “bottle” bills.