Four days after your April 19 editorial supporting L.D. 1204“Our View: Recycling finance idea no threat to bottle bill” – several dozen citizens lined up in Augusta to testify otherwise.

L.D. 1204 is the beverage industry’s proposal to remove 32-ounce-and-larger containers from Maine’s deposit law and instead create a temporary fund to subsidize other recycling.

In return for this expenditure – about $371,000 a year for six years – Maine’s beverage distributors will net $1.1 million a year in avoided handling fees, label registrations and the like.

Meanwhile, Maine municipalities must absorb an estimated $2.3 million in new costs for waste collection, processing and disposal.

“Any legislation that would take a product that is currently removed from the municipal solid waste stream and deliberately add it (back in) … makes absolutely no sense,” testified Geoff Herman of the Maine Municipal Association.

Taxpayers already spend $80 million a year trying to manage and reduce Maine’s solid waste; it’s hard to see how adding another 28 cents per person will move the needle much.

In fact, said Victor Horton of the Maine Resource Recovery Association, L.D. 1204 could “quite possibly turn back” Maine’s recycling rates, because without the careful handling of a bottle bill, scrap values plummet.

Municipally collected glass, for instance, has negative value. And PET plastic that’s worth $320 to $360 a ton now will bring just $20 to $100 a ton when the deposit disappears. A national trade group testified that this bill will cost Maine’s PET recyclers at least $700,000 a year.

Still, the folks likely to suffer most from L.D. 1204 are Maine’s redemption centers. Oversized containers account for far more of their business, they testified, than the generally accepted 7 percent. Reduce that volume, they said, and you reduce income, employees, tax base, even charity donations.

L.D. 1204 is no bargain.

Marge Davis

former Maine resident

Mount Juliet, Tennessee