More details trickled out Monday about a proposal to add a 5-cent, statewide deposit to beverage containers, but county and city recycling managers in Maryland say they remain concerned that the plan could complicate –– and cost –– the recycling programs they operate.
The legislation, which is still being developed but would offer 5-cent refunds for each glass, aluminium and plastic beverage container, would cut into curbside collection once the program is established, said Shaila Aery, a lobbyist who is working for Owens-Illinois to pass the bill in Maryland.
Under the latest draft of the bill, to be sponsored by Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Dist. 43) of Baltimore, counties and cities would be required to establish redemption centers that they could run themselves or license to private or nonprofit operators, Aery said.
Under the draft, if consumers put their beverage containers in county or city recycling bins rather than redeeming them, the jurisdiction could receive the deposit.
Redemption centers where people would return containers for deposits would get a handling fee, paid by the state from deposits that were not claimed.
If the county operates the redemption center, it not only would get paid for the materials but would receive a 2-cent handling fee per bottle or can for at least the first three years, under the draft bill. Redemption centers run by private operators would get a 1.5-cent handling fee.
The draft calls for the state to review the program to see if local governments’ costs are being covered and to reduce the handling fee to 1.5 cents if that is sufficient to cover their costs, Aery said.
Members of the Maryland Association of Counties are waiting to examine a final version of the bill, said Leslie Knapp Jr., the organization’s legal and policy counsel. Recycling officials said a proposal they saw in November looked like it could hurt county recycling operations.
Proponents of the deposit legislation, which has not been filed, note that states that offer deposit refunds on beverage containers recycle about 76 percent of them, while Maryland is recycling just 22 percent.
Owens-Illinois supports the deposit proposal in Maryland because it would help the company meet its environmental goals and reduce its materials costs, said Ryan Modlin, the company’s vice president of government affairs.
Owens-Illinois uses about 36 percent recycled glass and gets about 80 percent of it from the 10 states that offer deposit refunds, Modlin said.
Those states are not near two Owens-Illinois plants in Virginia (in Danville and Toano) that could use the materials, but Maryland is close by. Having a materials source nearby would reduce transportation costs and emissions, he said.
A representative from Alcoa also appeared at an event Monday in Baltimore to support the bill. Also attending were Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. (D-Dist. 6) of Dundalk and Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Dist. 16) of Chevy Chase.