Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Redeeming Bottles

(Inspired by ProfK.)

We've never saved our cans and bottles to redeem the deposit charge, but last year we encouraged David to do so in order that he would learn the value of working for his money, saving up, etc.

David really got into it with full vigor. Our relatives now dump all their cans and bottles in our garage and David even makes Kinneret collect the cans and bottles her friends discard at work. In the morning he goes to school with one bottle of water and sometimes he returns home with three empty bottles. I've even caught him picking up cans in the street and he's asked me if he can sift through our neighbors' garbage cans. He can spend hours--ok, not really hours--in the garage sorting his stash and preparing for the big day. And whenever he sees someone pushing a shopping cart overflowing with bags of empty bottles he stares in amazement and awe.

Except for the yucky parts it sounds all nice and good.

Or not.

For all the talk about the importance of recycling, etc., the bottle redemption program is nothing more than a hidden tax that is perhaps one of the biggest government scam ever. The vast majority of people do not go back to the supermarket with their empty bottles and cans and those orphaned nickel deposits get deposited into government coffers. And spare me the mussar that these people have no one to blame but themselves for losing the deposit money.

I waste an inordinate amount of time taking David to the store with his stash. First of all, most stores only accept brands they sell. This could mean multiple stops. Then at each store there are often long lines of people--always the ones with the shopping carts filled to heaven--in front of you. Of course at least one machine is always broken, so maybe you can get rid of the plastics and cans, but you're going to have return (who knows when) another time for the glass. Even just the process of of inserting the bottles into the machine can take a while, as it can take numerous attempts before the machine will accept your offering without spitting it back out at you. Of course in the middle of this process the machine will fill up and then you wait and wait and wait for the manager to come and empty it. (The guys with the shopping carts piled to heaven aren't exactly their customer service priority.) Finally you think all is done, yet all you get is a slip of paper and now you have to wait on line for ten minutes to exchange it for cash. God forbid you had more than twelve dollars worth of bottles, because in that case you have to come back another day. (And since many of the redemption areas are filthy, you have to waste time at home afterwards take a shower and otherwise disinfecting yourself.) The effort literally just isn't worth my time.

The whole process is such a pain and I've thought of just giving him the money and tossing his stash into the  garbage. But in the meantime he continues to collect bottles and cans.


JS said...

We have recycling pickup by us, so I've never bothered with the deposits.

But, the other day I opened a LOT of cans of tomato sauce/paste when cooking. In the past I just chucked the cans in the garbage since I usually don't have time to rinse them out (and as opposed to corn, the sauce adheres to the can and really needs a good rinsing or the can will start to stink in the hot garage).

Anyways, I happened to have some extra time, so I'm standing there rinsing the cans. And, of course, the tomato sauce/paste won't come out easily. And the cold water is proving ineffective. I must have had my hot water running for several minutes to get them all clean.

Afterwards all I could think was that I probably wasted more energy and water resources washing them than will be saved by recycling. Many studies have shown the savings are marginal if existent at all.

Oh well.

tesyaa said...

JS, I don't recycle except for newspapers and cardboard boxes. I haven't gotten a summons yet.

For fun, I once saved 50 soda cans at work to get the deposit back. I can't remember what I did with the $2.50.

ProfK said...


If you find it such a pain to recycle the cans and bottles, check some local charitable organizations--some of them will pick up bags of the recyclable material or provide a local drop off place--and they have bulk recycling arrangements. You get the donation credit and they take care of the work and keep the actual money realized.

Those cans don't have to be spotless, just emptied and quickly rinsed--and some, like canned veggies, don't need rinsing at all. As to the smell in the garbage can, we keep an outside can for recycles and the house can is emptied frequently into it--no smell in the house. Those living in apartment buildings already have drop places in their garbage disposal areas for recycles.

Beware studies--many have also shown savings that are way more than marginal

Lucky you for not getting a summons yet--our area is quite medakdek on recycling and yes, summonses are given out if you don't comply.