Critics, Supporters Weigh In on Bottle Deposit Proposal

Created: 02/11/2014 10:48 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- Minnesota’s recycling rate has been flat in the past decade at just over 40 percent. Now a proposal for a ten cent deposit on bottles and cans could be derailed until next year. This comes after the beverage industry, grocers and several others rallied against it. Supporters of the bill say it's a solution to Minnesota’s lagging recycling rate.

For the past decade, Jeff Bagniewski has owned a convenience store in Rochester. "In a store like this you deal with pennies and nickels so a dime is a big thing,” said Jeff Bagniewski, Owner of Jeff’s Little Store.

Jeff has concerns about the proposal for adding ten cents to the cost of each canned or bottled beverage in Minnesota. Ten cents the customer pays up front, but could get back when it's recycled.

"When they have to pay more for a certain item that might be something else they aren't buying,” said Bagniewski.

Jeff supports a new interest group called Recycle Smart Minnesota. A coalition that strongly opposes the bottling bill.

"Customers don't need the mess, the inconvenience and the expense,” said Tim Wilkin, Chair of Recycle Smart Minnesota.

Recycle Smart Minnesota argues under the new proposal consumers would only be able to redeem their recyclables at certain locations.

"They'd be forced to separate their sticky empties, you got to put them in a bag separately, they drip all over each other you got to haul that in your car,” said Wilkin.

But supporters of the bill say there's three options for consumers under the program. "One is you can keep putting containers into your curb side recycling and if you do that than your ten cent deposit ends up supporting your local programs,” said Paul Austin with Conservation Minnesota.

Paul Austin with Conservation Minnesota says consumers could also get their cash back by redeeming recyclables at local retailers, something that has been proven to work in Iowa. "They have a recycling rate of I believe of 84 percent with a five percent deposit on beverage containers,” said Austin.

While some see this bottling bill as the solution, for others, the negatives don't outweigh the positives. "Overall it definitely will affect the bottom line,” said Bagniewski.

Supporters of the bill say there isn't enough time to push the proposal through this legislative session. It's something that will be discussed and considered for next year.