Water bottles flood landfills

  Californians drink a quarter of the nation’s bottled water, but they recycle only 16 percent of the bottles. The rest — 1 billion water bottles a year — are tossed into the state’s landfills.

“We have developed the very healthy habit of drinking more water, but we have not developed a healthy habit of recycling water bottles,” says Mark Oldfield, a spokesman for the California Department of Conservation.

But one nonprofit group, Californians Against Waste, has a cure: Double the state’s recycling deposit. That would give people a nickel for every beverage container smaller than 24 ounces, and 10 cents for any larger ones. The idea was supported by a recent California Department of Conservation study, which found that doubling the deposit on all containers would increase overall recycling rates from 58 percent to 82 percent.

But when state Sen. Byron Sher, D-Palo Alto, added the doubled deposit to a recycling bill in April, it drew fire from bottling companies. Bob Achermann of the California Nevada Soft Drink Association, which includes the companies that bottle Dasani and Aquafina water, says doubling the recycling deposit would add a few extra cents to the cost of a bottle of water and discourage purchases.

A Senate committee dropped the doubled deposit from the recycling bill in June, but Sher says he will try to add the measure to another bill later this summer.
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