SALIDA, Colo. (CBS4) – Some students from Salida are headed to the state Capitol on Wednesday on a mission to save the environment. They’ll testify in favor of a bill that would create a bottle deposit system in Colorado.
The students will go up against some powerful lobbyists.
At Crest Academy they’re surrounded by nature’s beauty, but the students know how to talk trash as well. In fact students there are so disgusted by all the trash littering roads and rivers, they decided to travel all the way to the state Capitol to ask lawmakers to do something about it.
“I’m prepared to give my opinion because I think it matters as much as an adults,” student Jessica Adamson said.
They’re lobbying for a bill that would require a nickel deposit on every glass or plastic bottle of soda or water bought in Colorado. If returned, the empty bottle would be worth 5 cents.
“Without the bottle bill, bottles will ruin our state,” Adamson said.
“In states that have this bill they have about an 80 percent recycling rate for these types of bottles, so it would have a huge improvement on Colorado’s environment,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver.
Pabon also says the state would make money. The bill demands distributors pay a half cent on every bottle manufactured, but the state would only reimburse for bottles redeemed. Since not everyone would recycle, state economists estimate the bill would mean a net gain to the state of nearly $30 million when fully implemented. It’s money that would go in part to K-12 education.
“So this is about saving our environment and saving our schools,” Pabon said.
But bottlers and grocers say there are problems with the bill.
“Curbside recycling is four times cheaper than bottle deposit bills,” Chris Howes with the Colorado Beverage Association said. “We’ve got sanitation issues with the product coming back to grocery store and we don’t think it will work. We think it will be a cost on the customer and ultimately a cost on the state.”
There’s no question the business lobbies have influence, but the students say they’ll make their voices heard.
Denver Recycles, the largest municipal recycling program in Colorado, is not taking a position on the bill. It will be heard before the State Affairs Committee.
Eleven states have bottle deposits.