Testimony on SB 0394 Statewide Container Recycling Refund Program

Maryland PIRG supports SB 0394, which establishes a statewide redeemable 5 cent deposit on single use beverage containers to decrease litter and waste. Putting recyclable trash in landfills or burning it through incineration is unnecessary and terrible for public health and the environment.

Position: Favorable

Maryland Public Interest Research Group is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group that takes on powerful interests, working to win concrete results for our health and well-being on behalf of thousands of members across the state.

Maryland PIRG supports SB 0394, which establishes a statewide redeemable 5 cent deposit on single use beverage containers to decrease litter and waste.

Putting recyclable trash in landfills or burning it through incineration is unnecessary and terrible for public health and the environment. Marylanders have to deal with paying the financial and public health costs of the way we handle our trash, and powerful interests from the plastics and chemical industry to the bottling industry and solid waste companies are profiting at our expense. In order to decrease our waste, we have to deal with each component of the waste stream – we’re excited that SB 0394 does just that, by targeting beverage containers.
 
Marylanders see bottle trash as a problem; it litters our neighborhoods, our waterways, and our parks. More than 3 billion beverage containers end up as litter or trash in Maryland every year, while less than 1 billion are recycled.  To put that in perspective, that’s enough bottles and cans to wrap around the Chesapeake Bay 34 times.

And every bottle that is trashed instead of recycled means more leaky landfills, dirtier air from incinerators, and more litter and trash cleanup costs.

Marylanders recognize this problem, and they’re ready to do something about it. Since July Maryland PIRG has had conversations with more than 15,000 people across the state, and have found through our conversations that Marylanders are ready for the bottle bill. In January, we delivered more than 7,500 petitions to Governor O’Malley in support of a bottle bill.

We know the bottle bill works because the 10 states that have it have container recycling rates triple ours and have all seen major reductions in litter. The bottle bill is proven effective to reduce litter, increase recycling, and save cities and towns in litter and trash pick-up costs. A 2011 impact analysis by the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center asserts that “beverage container deposit programs have proven to be the most effective tool for reducing litter.”

Reuse and recycling programs are best for society. They are cleaner, safer and less of a drain on natural resources. Ultimately, if we want to move our state towards zero waste, we must take on bottle trash head on. Thousands of citizens are asking for a bottle bill because they want to clean up their neighborhoods, waterways, and air.

Maryland PIRG encourages you to support SB 0394.

i.  “2006 Beverage Market Date Analysis,” The Container Recycling Institute, 2008. Sales derived from: Beverage Packaging in the U.S., 2007 Edition,” Beverage Marketing Corp., December 2007.

ii.  “2011 Impact Analysis of Beverage Container Recycling Program,” University of Maryland Environment Finance Center, P 17

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Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.

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