Poll: Should there be a bottle bill in Minnesota?

If you’re a faithful recycler, you probably fairly blanch when you pass the occasional trash bin, overflowing with bottles and cans which are better off recycled.

You may be about to pay for others’ disregard.

The Minnesota Legislature may soon consider a 10 cent recycling fee for bottles, cans and other beverage containers, the MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar reports today.

If Minnesota is like the nearly dozen other states in the country that have bottle bills, it could be a battle royale. Few issues can be as contentious as recycling fees, and this debate could include class warfare, since the less-educated and poor are the worst offenders.

The motivation is an effort to get the state’s recycling rates up. Grocers and retail stores hate the idea because they have to set up a system to accept bottle and can returns. Customers hate it because (a) they have to pay another 10 cents and (b) they have lug cans around after they’ve finished it.

If you’re of a mind to recycle, it’s a pretty simple system now: If you’re at home, you drop it in the blue bin. If you’re out somewhere, drop the can in the nearest recycling barrel. Easy. That ends when it starts costing you 10 cents a can to do what you’re doing now.

Trash haulers also depend on the revenue from the aluminum (and plastic, as the case may be) at the recycling center to offset the cost of running separate trucks in neighborhoods to pick up recycling. Although most already charge a recycling fee to customers, the companies would likely have to increase the fee to make recycling feasible, which provides additional motivation for people not to use the recycling services.

All because people throw bottles and cans in the trash now.

Minnesota has a goal of recycling 80 percent of beverage bottles and cans. It recycles only 51 percent now.