Both supporters and opponents spoke today (Wednesday) during a public hearing at the statehouse on a proposed change to the bottle deposit law. The change would force all stores to take back the bottles and cans with deposits. Norwalk store owner Scott Havens says curbside recycling is a better option for taking care of cans and bottles. He says trash bags full of dirty cans and bottles are dragged into his store producing a mess. He says, “Given my choice, I wouldn’t charge anyone for using a can or a bottle. Let our customers keep their money up front, and then they can put their recyclables in the green bin.” Havens says the aluminum cans provide the most revenue for recyclers, so shifting pop cans to the curbside would make recycling more economically feasible for cities and counties. But, Tom Hadden, the executive director of the curbside recycling program in the Des Moines metro area says the value of aluminum fluctuates, so you need a large volume of cans to make a profit. Hadden, who runs the metro waste authority, says if the legislature gets ride of the nickel deposit, many cans will end up in the ditch or trash. He says 65-percent of the people in the metro area use the curbside recycling – while the rest of the material would go to the landfill. He says if you don’t have the bottle bill bars and stores that don’t have curbside recycling would send their bottles and cans to the landfill. Manchester recycling center operator Joel Reinhert says the deposit law should be expanded to include sports drinks and water bottles. And he says handlers of the bottles should get a raise. He says, “I don’t understand what’s wrong down here at the statehouse. We’ve got 85-percent of the people that’re for it, but yet you guys continue to do nothing. Do the lobbyists have a stranglehold on you guys that much down here?” But grocer Fred Greiner of Boone called the bottle law outdated and unsanitary. He says, “what started out as a simple and somewhat clean process has now turned into a sanitation nightmare. The volume of bottles continues to grow, and so does the filth that is brought into our stores. We are a retail food establishment, not a garbage dump.” Stores are now able to get a waiver on taking back the cans and bottles if there’s an approved recycling center close by. About 100 of the 600 grocery stores in the state have obtained the waivers. Legislative leaders say it’s unlikely such a controversial measure will pass so late in the session.
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