Through the 100 Percent Recycled Looking Glass

| 11/20/2008 4:10:02 PM

I’ve always been jealous of those states listed on glass bottles. People in those states receive a nickel or a dime for recycling their glass containers. Kansas, to my dismay, does not offer a deposit-refund system for recycling glass. I know I shouldn’t need a monetary incentive to recycle glass (considering it’s 100 percent recyclable), but according to recent news from the Glass Packaging Institute, a nickel and dime goes a lot way.  

100 green bottles by James Cridland.

Photo by James Cridland/Courtesy flickr

The only states that offer a refund for recycling glass are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont. About 28 percent of glass containers were recycled in the U.S. in 2007, a far cry from the 67 percent of glass that was recycled in 2007 in California (a state that has had a beverage recycling program since 1987). 

With a national recycling rate of 33.4 percent in 2007 for all materials, it’s a wonder why more refund programs are not in place for other recyclable materials. In several states, such as Nevada, laws have been passed to ensure automobile battery recycling, which may explain the 99 percent recycling rate for automobile batteries. 

It’s difficult to rely on people’s good will to influence them to recycle. So, should money be offered as an incentive, or even jail time as a motivation, for proper disposal? 

The answer is in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where a law requires restaurants and bars to recycle glass and aluminum cans. Because of the law, the city provided 20-yard, 4 to 5 tons containers for the materials. According to some of the restaurant owners, it’s easier and less problematic to recycle with the provided containers, and less excess trash is on the ground.