New Hampshire Views: Four decades later, no need for a bottle bill
In 1971 Oregon passed the nation’s first bottle bill. When that wave of environmental enthusiasm came to New Hampshire, it was then-Newmarket state Rep. Patti Blanchette who took up the cause – and became disparagingly referred to as “Bottle Bill” Blanchette.
The nasty nature of the debate was unfortunate for several reasons. Blanchette didn’t deserve the dishonor. She worked hard to represent the voters who put her in office. And unlike today, it could be argued the state and the environment were in need of the cleaning up a bottle bill would do.
Needless to say, Blanchette’s effort failed, as have others since then.
But that hasn’t stopped Democratic Rep. Charles Weed of Keene from trying again.
House Bill 1287 would require a deposit of 5 cents per container of beer, wine, water or carbonated beverages.
The difference, however, between now and when Blanchette pushed for a bottle bill is the lack of need.
Today, many New Hampshire communities have recycling programs. In towns like Newmarket, there is curbside pickup. In Epping, locals haul their own to the town recycling center.
And it’s not just bottles that get recycled. Paper and plastics are also taken out of the trash and later returned to useful life.
Another reason for opposing HB 1287 is that individual communities have the option of deciding whether to recycle. In this, the “Live Free or Die” state, having and maintaining such a local option is important.
Thankfully, there was little support for Weed’s bill during a recent public hearing.
For example, Craig Bulkley reportedly warned the bill could cost the state $1.4 million in lost wine sales, and $5.7 million in beer taxes. The chief operating officer of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission also noted New Hampshire’s competitive advantage over neighboring state with bottle bills that require deposits on beverage containers.