The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 19, 2013

Your View: Bottle tax would hurt recycling effort

By Tim Wilkin, President, Minnesota Beverage Association

— Minnesota's beverage industry couldn't agree more with your sentiment that recycling offers environmental and economic gains (Minnesota recycling falling behind, Jan. 14, 2013).

We strongly support the expansion of single-sort recycling to more households in Minnesota. The convenience of this state-of-the-art approach to recycling boosts recycling significantly and lowers collection costs. Every household that has trash collection could and should have recyclables picked up as well.

But your advocacy of a "container fee" or a refundable container tax would set back efforts to improve curbside recycling, because the two compete with each other. A 10 cent refundable tax on every beverage container would mean those containers would no longer go into the convenient curbside bin, but consumers would need to haul their sticky empties back to a store or redemption center.

Communities would lose the valuable revenue from aluminum cans and plastic bottles. And most importantly, consumers would bear the hidden costs of paying for that new redemption system, which includes other hidden taxes that are not refundable.

There's no doubt we can do better and our industry supports best practices in residential recycling and away from home recycling, such as recycling at public events and our "Message in a Bottle" program at convenience stores.

We don't need to undermine our existing recycling investments with a new container tax scheme that will complicate recycling, inconvenience consumers, increase costs, and incentivize fraud.