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An idea worth bottling.

Byline: The Register-Guard

The idea for Oregon's landmark bottle bill was hatched in the mind of Richard Chambers, a logging equipment salesman who couldn't abide the sight of litter on the state's trails and beaches.

As Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch recounted earlier this year, Chambers returned from a hike on Nestucca Spit and read a newspaper article about a British Columbia lawmaker who had proposed banning nonreturnable cans and bottles. Seized by satori, he phoned Paul Hanneman, a local state representative and proposed doing the same in Oregon and going one step further - giving folks money back for returning their empties.

Hanneman introduced the bill at the next legislative session and, despite fierce industry opposition, it became the nation's first law and the model for nine other states that have adopted deposit laws.

Now, U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, of Vermont, has promised to give a national, bottle bill a full legislative hearing in the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee that he chairs.

The national need for such an initiative is obvious. An estimated 114 billion beverage containers are thrown away each year - buried in landfills and and thrown on to roadsides and parks. Despite a national emphasis on recycling, more bottles and cans are recycled in the 10 states that have bottle bills than in the 40 that do not.

Oregon has shown that bottle bills work. Yet any effort to create a national bottle bill faces a tough battle. The same special interests - retailers, distributors and bottlers - who fiercely battled the Oregon bottle bill 31 years ago in the state Legislature have thwarted several similar efforts in Congress over the years. In Oregon, they have successfully resisted common-sense efforts to add other types of beverage containers to the deposit-return system and to raise the deposit rate.

Jeffords' proposal would establish a 10-cent deposit and set a national goal of recycling at least 80 percent of bottles and cans. It's an effort that should have the support of every member of Oregon's congressional delegation, especially given this state's historic role in establishing deposit laws and promoting recycling across the nation.

Think about it - a national bottle bill. Wouldn't that have made Richard Chambers proud?
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Vermont lawmaker proposes national deposit law; Editorials
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Jun 30, 2002
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