Waste Management Expository Essays

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Waste management is a topical issue which has remained a priority for many countries in the recent past. Today, many nations are more concerned about sustainable development, more so in regards to some of the effects that have been witnessed lately because of poor environment conservation (Verespej, 2011). This study seeks to explore the container deposit laws in the United States of America to espouse the idea that the law should be expanded to include non-carbonated drinks such as water, sports drinks, and iced teas among others. It is important to note that the bill has been passed in different states such as Oregon, which passed it in 1971, Massachusetts in 1982 and others that sought to encourage recycling while reducing litter in the environment. It became apparent after the Second World War that the use of aluminum cans and plastic bottles promoted the littering. Through the bill, the waste management responsibility becomes an all-encompassing duty both to the consumers and to the manufacturers of these products rather than the taxpayers and the government. This study is a significant one that explores some of the rationales behind expanding the bill, while also paying attention to those that oppose the move in order to come up with an informed position concerning the matter.

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Brief History of Container Deposit Laws

The container deposit laws were introduced when it was realized that some of the used containers were making the environment so disorganized with litters everywhere, more so in the public spaces. For many years, people drunk sodas and beers packed in refilled glass bottles, but around the 1930s, the manufacturers introduced still cans, which could be used and disposed of. Around the periods after the Second World War, the cans became more prevalent and replaced the glass beers and sodas. The study shows that by around 1960s, about forty-seven percent of beers distributed in the United States were sold in aluminum cans rather than refillable bottles (Brege, 2006). This led to a flare-up of beverage container litter, which alarmed environmentalists. As a result, the thought to have legislation was sought to place a compulsory rule for the refundable deposit on soft drinks and beer containers to reduce the excessive litter in the environment.

In 1971, Oregon became the first to pass the law (bottle bill), which required refundable deposits on all soft drinks and beer containers. Later in 1986, ten states followed the suit to enact the law. It is imperative to point out that the law, even though intended to conserve the environment was also sought to conserve the natural resources. One of the known ways of conserving the natural resources in the united states is recycling, which has been used for a long time to limit the number of solid wastes in the landfills. It was reported that through the law, the number of solid wastes from beverages reduced in different states in the united states that adopted the bill. Therefore, it has remained a positive approach in lieu of other approaches to waste management in the United States of America.

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How Container Deposit Laws Work

From this study, it is clear that the container deposit on beverages is not new, but something that has been practiced in the United States of America for a long time. It was an ideal system put in place to ensure that the glass bottles were returned to be refilled with the contents and resold in the market. When the cans were reduced as packages for the beverages, the rampancy of environment littering led to the introduction of the law to control such. As a result, it became mandatory by law that all the containers used to be returned to the distributor who then takes them to the manufacturer to re-clean, refills them and resells them in the market.  The law works by having a consumer paying a redeemable deposit of $0.05, which is refunded back when he or she returns the container. It is a deal, which exists between the retailer and the distributor, and the retailer does the same with the consumers. The retailer pays a deposit to acquire the beverages rom the distributor and then sells them to a consumer who also pays a deposit. When the consumer returns the container, the deposit is paid back, and the retailer does the same with the distributor. In other words, the containers and bottles remain the property of the bottlers and distributors in various states in America.

The Position of the Proponents of the Law

Majorly, the supporters of this law are more interested in seeing a protected environment from littering, which would greatly be caused by used cans and bottles from beers and beverages. According to Brege (2006), discarded cans play when allowed would promote trash in the United States.  Some of the entities that have voiced their concerns in this respect include conservation and community groups that think that the deposit bill should include bottles of non-carbonated drinks such as water, iced teas, sports drinks and others to limit the amount of waste thrown in the trash. They argue that since the bill does not cover these beverages, they have been overwhelmingly produced and thus a threat to the environment. The supporters add that since the enactment of the law, the amount of containers dropped on the streets has dropped. In this regard, they believe that when the law is expanded, the environment would be safe from littering which has been on the rise by excluding the beverages from the deposit laws.

More importantly, the bottle bill has shown to be an environmental victory in different parts of the United States of America. States like New York and Massachusetts have recorded a positive environmental conservation. However, because non-carbonated drinks were not covered in the law, their sales have increased with more than twenty-two percent, an indication that when not addressed would be soon the major waste management in the country (Bubb, Ferguson, Trostel  & Turner, 2008). Today, they have become some of the major sources of litter in different communities in the country. From this understanding, it is apparent that when included in the law, they would reduce litter, while on the other hand increasing the recycling rates in the country. It is a thought supported with altruistic reasons sought to support the public from the effects of environmental degradation that have led to some regrettable results, not only in the united states but in the world at large. When included in the bill, the amounts of money spent on the trash collection programs would be driven to other projects that would benefit the public. Therefore, it is an important move, which requires sufficient attention to be passed, which would save the public a great deal.

The Position of Those Who Oppose the Law

Those who oppose the proposed move are worried about the rate of inflation that would follow. They believe that when consumers pay deposits on non-carbonated beverages, people would be forced to be prepared with more money than necessary when buying the products. It leads to an expensive affair that does not make sense to them at all. They also argue that the deposit bills were passed in the ages when recycling techniques had not been heightened as it is today. They think that instead of promoting deposit laws on non-carbonated beverages, it is better to perfect the art of recycling, which would cover a wide range of products, not only beverages (Verespej, 2011).

On the same note, they add that the amount of money on deposits is higher than that that would be used for recycling activities. Similarly, the deposit tax increases the prices of beverages, which is not healthy for the society. On the other hand, the argument that deposit returns are greatly expensive for the distributors, which implies that it is not the way to go when there is need to improve the economy of the country (Brege, 2006). They believe that having the deposit law is an archaic and costly approach that would divert the public attention from the existing comprehensive recycling programs. For those who support this thought, they believe that instead of expanding the law, the government should encourage people to adopt more improved means such as pay-to-throw programs. Through this mind-set, it is believed that recycling is cheaper compared to the deposit laws that is sought to be expanded on the non-carbonated beverages. Therefore, they think that it is not any wise to promote it, but rather, people should be encouraged to a more improved recycling program.

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This study in exploring the existing issues about the expanded deposit laws on non-carbonated drinks divulges the different positions about those who support it as well as those who oppose it. However, in the milieu of deciding whether it should or should not be adopted, it is important to gauge the merits and demerits of taking a particular position. In this precept, the proponents of the law on the non-carbonated drinks are merited in relation to how the law has led to environmental success in the country. Just as pointed out herein, when the plastic and aluminum cans were introduced on beers and sodas, there was increase littering, which prompted the introduction of the bottle bills. Therefore, it makes sense when the same is applied to other beverages as well.

On the same note, those who oppose the law seem not to understand certain concepts behind it. For instance, arguing that deposits are similar to taxes is not true. The program works that when the deposits are paid, they are recollected when the bottles are returned, which means that the consumer does not pay anything extra. Therefore, the law should be supported since it has a greater benefit in environmental protection.

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  1. Brege, A. J. (2006). Michigan’s Waste Problems: How Expansion of the Bottle Bill and Other Options Could Help Michigan Defeat the Dormant Commerce Clause and Out-of-State Waste. TM Cooley L. Rev.23, 303.
  2. Bubb, N., Ferguson, P. O., Trostel, A., & Turner, A. J. (2008). Improving recovery of recyclable and reusable materials in Wisconsin: the feasibility of a bottle bill and other policy options. Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  3. Verespej, M. (2011). Oregon OKs expanded bottle bill. Plastics News(Detroit)23(12).
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