Feb 19, 2020
Illustration done by Casey Supple/The Collegian

Recycling deposit laws need to expand to all 50 states

Criminals get caught left and right by police for smuggling in drugs and other illegal substances but the last thing you would expect to see on the news is a truck overflowing with gigantic plastic bags of recyclables and someone in handcuffs.

Recently, California has caught several individuals from other states who were bringing over thousands of dollars worth of recyclable products this summer.

Some may be asking, why would people from other states drive all the way across the country to cash in their plastic bottles and aluminum cans? Why can’t they go to their own states and cash in the recyclables there?

Well, the answer lies in how many states legally allow recycling centers to be available for their residents. In the U.S., there are only 10 states, along with an unincorporated territory, that have container deposit laws for recyclable products.

The small number of states that allow their residents to cash in recyclables for money have prompted many to begin illegally bringing their own recyclables from other states to places where there are recycling centers. Collecting refunds on any bottle or can purchased in another state is deemed as an illegal act, and individuals can be detained for this.

Looking at the container deposit laws are what we need to do. Taking a progressive step forward is the initiative lawmakers should make. While getting as little as 5 to 15 cents for each product turned in, Americans struggle with making ends meet.

The real question to be asked is why aren’t all 50 states in America full of recycling centers? The main point of having these deposit laws is to help the environment and reduce litter and trash strewn all over our highways and streets.

We need to expand our resources to provide opportunities for every resident in every state we live in to have recycle centers available to initiate a change in how we see recycling. If people recognize the real price in what plastic or aluminum products they’re buying, then their next reaction should be making the difference in how they act.

People may begin understanding that they should value what they put money into and that there will be resources available for them to gain that money back. In that sense, our nation can begin recognizing that recycling is a commodity for people to take hold of instead of littering their surroundings without a second thought to it.

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