(Andrew Doughman/Nevada News Bureau) – Nevada could go the way of California in paying people to recycle bottles in a proposal being considered at the Legislature.
Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, has a bill that would establish a bottle-deposit program whereby people could recycle bottles and cans in exchange for one nickel per container.
He said the bill creates an incentive for people to recycle, citing high rates of recycling in states with similar programs.
Ohrenschall said the price of soda and other beverages will not increase with the proposed program because people who recycle will recoup 5 cents per bottle.
Since Nevada would most likely not achieve a 100 percent recycling rate, the state would keep the extra money.
“I don’t consider it a tax because it’s a choice,” he said.
Nevada’s Department of Environmental Protection estimates that the recycling rate in Nevada is less than 25 percent. In states where people can exchange bottles for cash, that rate is double or triple the rate in Nevada.
Ohrenschall said he is sponsoring the bill in order to reduce littering through an incentive for people to recycle. Right now, he said, there’s too much littering in Nevada’s deserts.
“I think the desert is beautiful,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a wasteland.”
The bill does have a start-up cost for the state, the cost of which can vary with amendments to the bill.
Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said he has seen a similar program in Michigan, where he used to live.
“If the consumer pays an extra dime per can, he or she is then incentivized to return the can and be redeemed for that value,” Goedhart said. “I believe it is a pass-through. It is put on consumers’ backs and they get their money back at that point of time.”
Representatives from the Retail Association of Nevada and beverage companies testified against the bill before the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee.
Some committee members seemed upset with the opposition because large beverage companies like MillerCoors continue to operate in states with bottle-deposit laws.
“I’m always sort of amazed, we have a bill here that’s modeled on another state,” said Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas. “…and yet you come here and tell us we’ll all get boils and die a horrible death if this bill is passed.”
Environmental groups and the Nevada Farm Bureau testified in support of the bill.
Several Assembly members had questions about the bill, including many about whether it was best to let recycling centers or retail stores collect the bottles and pay people for their bottles.
The bill will mostly likely return to the Assembly committee with amendments for further consideration.