The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 8, 2014

Legislature won't take up 10-cent deposit

By Elizabeth Dunbar

Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesotans won’t be asked to pay a 10-cent deposit on bottles and cans anytime soon.

DFL lawmakers say there just isn’t time to consider such a big change this year. But some of them still hope there is time to address the state’s lagging recycling rates through other legislation.

Opposition to container deposit mounted even before anything was formally introduced. Trash and recycling haulers, grocers and the beverage industry all lined up against it. Lobbyists representing national industry groups flew into Minnesota for meetings and hearings, and opponents even formed a new interest group, Recycle Smart Minnesota.

But the DFL lawmakers who were thinking about introducing the container deposit bill say lack of time is the main reason they’ll hold off.

“I think our maximum time period is nine weeks, so it’s not really a time that we’re going to be looking at major policy issues,” said state Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL- Brooklyn Park.

Because of its complexity, the bill likely would have needed hearings in six different House committees, Hortman said.

“We really don’t have the time for a knock-down drag-out fight between the interest groups,” she said. “I think next year would be a great time to take a look at it. When you look at the value of material we’re throwing away, it’s very significant.”

Ten states have deposit laws, and recycling rates for bottles and cans in those states are twice as high as in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s overall recycling rate has been flat in recent years at just over 40 percent. The state has always been among the top recycling states, but now other states are catching up.

In the Twin Cities metro area, the goal for the last nearly 25 years has been to recycle half of all waste. Some lawmakers say even without a deposit bill this year, the Legislature should at least boost that goal.

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