As environmentally conscious as leaders in the brewing industry are, deep down, we all know that bottles and packaging don’t always wind up in recycling bins. For Washington brewers, however, a “Bottle Bill” initiative before legislators is poised to help make sure bottles do end up where they belong.
Before we discuss it, a bit of history. Back in the 1970s, states like Washington and Oregon took two different paths in efforts to reduce waste and encourage recycling. Washington elected to tax big-time waste producers, generating $7 million or so a year in revenues that go toward recycling-awareness efforts. Oregon, however, went the route now commonly known as the Bottle Bill. The state encourages recycling by paying consumers to return bottles to certain outlets. Some stats estimate that this policy can cut litter anywhere between 34 and 64 percent. That’s a dent.
Senate Bill 6498 is Washington’s proposed Bottle Bill, which would offer a redemption rate of at least 5 cents per bottle. Dealers, which “means every person in this state who engages in the sale of beverages in beverage containers to a consumer” would be required to buy back bottles, as long as they fit certain criteria—being the kind the dealer already sells, are clean, etc. Bottles would also need to be clearly embossed, stamped, or labeled with the redemption rate.
We’ll see how far SB 6498 makes it down the pike, and what impact that means on day-to-day ops at the brewery. Wherever it lands, we do applaud legislative efforts that take our environment into account.